Government raises panel to probe police over escape of Boko Haram kingpin

National Security Adviser, Owoye Andrew Azazi

The National Security Adviser (NSA) Owoye Azazi on Friday raised a panel to investigate the the shocking and dramatic escape of  Kabir Sokoto, a key Boko Haram suspect believed  to have masterminded the Christmas Day bombing of St Theresa Church, Madalla, Niger State.

The committee will examine the response of the Inspector General, Hafiz Ringim, to the query issued him on the matter and determined the culpability of other police officers who were in charge of the suspect before he fled.

The Minister of Police Affair, Caleb Olubolade, who announced the measure while briefing State House correspondents Friday, said the committee had just a week to complete its assignment.  

He did not disclose names of members of the committee. He only said members comprise “senior officers, military officers, officers from the ministry and other agents.”

Mr. Azazi had directed the Mr. Olubolade,  to get Mr. Ringim to explain within 24 hours the circumstances surrounding Mr. Sokoto’s escape.

The minister said, “Like I did say the other time, I have given some directives. The inspector general of police has responded. A committee has been set up above the police which takes into cognisance experts in various aspects to come together and conduct another investigation, so that has been assembled and they have been set to work. I think this is how far we have gone.”

On whether government is satisfied with the IGP’s response to the query, the minister said, “Yes onething is to explain and another thing is to look at the content of those explanations, that assignment will be done by the investigation panel set up by the National Security Adviser. I am not a member of the committee.”

Mr. Olubolade further appealed to Nigerians to be calm and understanding while efforts were being made to unravel the circumstances leading to the Boko Haram’s kingpin’s escape.

“I have to tell Nigerians that because an investigation panel has been set up, Nigerians should be patient and allow them do their job very briefly,” he said. “A time line has been given to them and at the end of that something will come out, so we should not pre-empt.”

An initial police investigation into the alleged escape of the  suspect has seen the suspension and house arrest of the Commissioner of police, Zakari Biu, under whose command the suspect made his escape.

Sources told Premium Times that about six police officers had accompanied Mr. Sokoto to his house in Abaji, a suburb of Abuja, to conduct a search and were at it when a mob swept in and made away with the suspect.

“The officers were there to conduct a search and by law, the owner of the house is required to sign off on a document that lists out the evidence found in his house,” another source told our reporter. “That is standard practice. It was while they were at it that a mob numbering over one thousand overpowered the police.”

There has been a public outcry against the way the police have so far handled the case, which culminated in the escape of the suspect. Many describe the police’s method as shoddy while others believe the police, aided the escape of the suspect.

Nigerian security forces have however beefed up security in Abaji where Mr. Sokoto allegedly escaped. 


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