Some of the suspects admitted to undergoing terrorists trainings in Borno.
Mr. Nazeef, said to be a lecturer in the Department for Islamic Studies, was paraded alongside four others, at the SSS headquarters in Abuja. The lecturer was said to be the spiritual leader of the cell.
The SSS spokesperson, Marilyn Ogar, who briefed journalists at the commission’s headquarters, said the suspects were arrested at a mosque in Zuba, Abuja.
She said the Boko Haram cell was uncovered in Igala land of Kogi State.
According to the SSS, Mr. Nazeef, 44, who hails from Idah, Kogi State, completed his secondary education at El-Kanemi College, Maiduguri before he graduated from the Islamic University of Medina, Saudi Arabia.
Following completion of his National Youth Service Corp in Jos, he obtained a Masters degree from the University of Jos before obtaining a PhD in Arabic and Islamic studies from the Kogi State University where he was an assistant lecturer.
The other four arrested were Umar Musa, 37 (head of operations/instructor); Mustapha Yusuf, 21 (aka Habib; armourer/chief courier); Ismaila Abdulazez, 19 (foot soldier); and Ibrahim Isah, 22 (aka One in town also foot soldier), the security service stated.
Ms. Ogar told journalists that the group was plotting to launch violent attacks in Igala land, Kogi state.
She said Mr. Nazeef confessed to holding several preaching sessions every last Saturday and Sunday of the month at Ethosho secondary school Ojiolo, Dekina, Kogi, where he has about 80 adherents. He also reportedly confessed to teaching his adherents the virtues of Jihad and the sanctity of the Sharia system as an alternative form of governance.
Mr. Nazeef was accused of maintaining extensive link with Boko Haram cells in Maiduguri as well as facilitating the trip of two of his adherents to Boko Haram’s Sambisa camp in Maiduguri for training in weapon handling.
Speaking to journalists, Mr. Nazeef amidst tears denied having any connection to Boko Haram. He said he believed he was being set up by the sect for preaching against shedding of blood, whether humans or even animals.
“I have never met these people, never in my life. But I know this man (pointing at Mr. Musa). I used to see him in some Islamic activities, I even have one of my messages. He attended twice and I stopped seeing him when I (went) against Boko Haram.” Mr. Nazeef said
Mr. Musa, an indigene of Ankpa, Kogi, who completed his NYSC in 2004 after graduating with a degree in Islamic studies from Bayero University, agreed that he had to links to the dreaded sect but was lured into their activities as a result of unemployment.
He worked with Kogi State teaching commission until 2009 when he lost his job. He established his own private school which he abandoned for a N50, 000 monthly salary with the sect’s education unit as a Munzir (instructor).
Mr. Musa insisted that Mr. Nazeef, who they referred to as a spiritual leader, appointed him head of operations and munzir of the group.
He also said that he returned from Sambisa, Maiduguri, with Mr. Yusuf, who just passed his Joint Admission Matriculation Board (JAMB) examination but could not pass his post JAMB exams, to reunite with Mr. Nazeef in Kogi where they plotted to carry out violent attacks in Igala land.
Also speaking, Mr. Yusuf from Ayingba in Kogi State said he came in contact with Mr. Nazeef in 2013 while seeking admission into Kogi State University.
He said Mr. Nazeef discouraged him from having a Western education and persuaded him to join the Boko Haram sect.
He noted that Mr. Nazeef only camouflaged as a lecturer in the university.
He said it was Mr. Nazeef who directed Mr. Musa to take him and Mr. Abdulazez to Sambisa camp; and that upon their return, they held several strategic meetings in ASTA petrol station where he was appointed armourer by Mr. Nazeef.
Mr. Yusuf also confessed to being in possession of two AK 47 rifles and 30 rounds of live ammunition before his arrest/
Mr. Abdulazeez, from Ogugu also in Kogi, working as a mobile tailor in Nyanya, Abuja, said he was indoctrinated into the group by Mr. Yusuf in Nyanya, Abuja but subsequently visited Mr. Nazeef in Ayingba and then further took a trip to Maiduguri with others on Mr. Nazeef’s directives.
Mr. Isah, in his account, said Mr. Yusuf invited him to one of Mr. Nazeef’s preaching sessions at Eshosho school where he taught them workings of the sharia system and its superiority to secular governance.
Ms. Ogar, while noting that investigation was still ongoing, advised parents sending their wards to teachers to be careful about the kind of teachers their children are sent to.
“Investigation is still going on and of course as we uncover those involved in one way or the other. Parents that have to send their children to teachers should be careful about the people you send your children to as teachers,” Ms. Ogar said.
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