Nigeria jails Boko Haram 'spokesperson'

2011-12-06 18:35

Abuja - A Nigerian court on Tuesday sentenced to three years in prison an alleged spokesperson for Islamist sect Boko Haram whose confessions led to accusations of political links to the extremists.

Ali Sanda Konduga, whom authorities claim was the Boko Haram spokesperson quoted in the news media under the alias Usman al-Zawahiri, had been charged alongside a senator for criminal intimidation.

It was unclear whether Konduga had reached a deal with authorities. Secret police announced his November 3 arrest only about three weeks later and said he confessed to various crimes as well as his links to politicians.

Before the sentence was handed down on Tuesday, Konduga told the court he would assist authorities in investigating the violence blamed on Boko Haram, which has claimed responsibility for scores of attacks.

The attacks include the August suicide bombing of UN headquarters in Abuja that killed at least 24 people.

"In view of the plea for leniency... this court hereby sentences you, Ali Sanda Konduga, to three years imprisonment," Judge Oyebola Oyewumi of the chief magistrate court in Abuja said.

Konduga was charged alongside Senator Mohammed Ali Ndume last month for criminal intimidation and pleaded guilty to the charges.

Ndume, a senator from Borno state in the country's northeast, where most of Boko Haram's attacks have occurred, pleaded not guilty and his case has been transferred to the high court. He was also charged with breaching public trust.

Speculation has been rife over political links to at least certain factions of Boko Haram, as well as whether the group has formed ties with outside extremists, including al-Qaeda's north African branch.

Boko Haram is believed to have various factions with a number of different aims, and the alleged confessions of Konduga seemed to involve mainly local politics.