The alleged mastermind of the Christmas Day bombing at Saint Theresa Catholic Church, Madalla, Niger State, Habibu Bama, has died in controversial circumstances.
Mr. Bama died while receiving treatment from gunshot wounds he sustained in an alleged scuffle with soldiers of the Joint Task Force in Damaturu, Yobe state.
“It’s true. He died this morning from gunshot wounds he sustained,” a top official of the State Security Service (SSS) confirmed to PREMIUM TIMES.
The deceased was declared wanted by the State Security Service for his alleged role in the Madalla bombings which killed over 40 worshippers.
Mr. Bama was a former soldier and hailed from Bama town in Borno State. He is believed to be a senior member of the terrorist group, Jama’atu Ahlis Sunnati Lil Da’awati wal Jihad, popularly called Boko Haram.
Though the JTF is yet to confirm Mr. Bama’s death, security sources have confirmed that Mr. Bama indeed died in the hospital under the custody of the JTF.
The death of Mr. Bama has again raised the question of the JTFs ability to manage and gather information from alleged terrorists
A knowledgeable source told PREMIUM TIMES that Mr. Bama’s death could be an extra-judicial killing as the JTF could have arrested him without shooting.
“He was unarmed when they saw him in the market. He is not a hefty man. They could easily have overpowered him or in the worst case scenario shoot him in the leg to arrest him,” our source said.
A senior official of the State Security Service told PREMIUM TIMES the JTF officials were not trained in information gathering and are used to using brutal force, a tactics observers say is negatively affecting the capacity of security agencies to gather information about the sect.
“They are used to just shooting anybody. It’s not impossible that they killed him,” the source said.
PREMIUM TIMES learnt that many Boko Haram members have suffered similar fate (killed when they could have been captured alive), which has become a source of worry for the SSS.
The action of the JTF was one of the major points of discussion in the recent meetings Borno elders had with President Goodluck Jonathan.
The elders stated that the brutal tactic adopted by the JTF was hampering intelligence gathering and could make residents shy away from providing information to security agencies.