THE State Security Service, Nigeria’s secret police, said Monday the extremist Boko Haram sect, blamed for scores of attacks, including the August suicide bombing of UN headquarters here, has strong links to a Nigerian lawmaker.
The group’s spokesman, Ali Sanda Umar Konduga, currently in the custody of the Service made the confessions, Marilyn Ogar, the Service spokesman said today.
The Service said Mr. Al-Zawahiri’s arrest confirms its earlier position that some of the Boko Haram extremists were being sponsored and promoted by some leading politicians in the country.
The Service said the suspect confessed the serving lawmaker took over the running of the sect after its initial sponsor died in a motor accident while trying to deliver a part payment of Five Million Naira (N5 Million) to him.
The service did not mention the names of the sponsors and also withheld their the names of their political parties; however, there are strong allusions to a Senator from Borno State. While being paraded before reporters on Monday, the suspect admitted he had contacted the Senator (name withheld) on several occasions. The lawmaker has shown a significant level of sympathy to the group and had in the past supported calls to dialogue with the group.
The suspect, known in the media as Usman Al-Zawahiri, is a former “political thug” operating under a group known as ECOMOG and was, according to the SSS, arrested on November 3rd, 2011 about 2030 hours at Gwange area of Maiduguri in a joint operation by security forces.
His arrest came days before the deadly coordinated attacks on Borno and Yobe States that claimed over 150 lives during the recent sallah weekend.
Ms Ogar claimed in a statement the suspect said the pseudo name, Usman Al-Zawahiri, was given to him by the said politician to portray him as an extremist as well as conceal his true identity.
The suspect also admitted that he was behind threat text messages sent to the Judges of the Election Petition Tribunal in Maiduguri, Governors Sule Lamido and Babangida Aliyu, Ambassador Dalhatu Tafida, former President Olusegun Obasanjo and Justice Sabo Adamu, chairman of the Borno State Election Petition Tribunal.
“Most of the threat messages he sent to Justice Sabo Adamu were scripted and relayed to him by the National Assembly member,” Ms Ogar said. “Meanwhile, analysis of Al-Zawahiri’s phone has confirmed constant communication between him and the legislator,” she added.
The Boko Haram sect, whose leader was killed by the police in 1999, abhors westernization and is supposedly campaigning for the Islamization of Nigeria.
The sect has been the major source of internal security breach in Nigeria over the past two years. It has claimed responsibility for numerous deadly attacks on police, community leaders, churches and prisons, and recently, the bombing of the United Nation’s office in Abuja and the Sallah weekend attacks and Borno and Yobe state that left about 150 dead.