Nigeria quizzes Boko Haram spokesperson
02 February 2012, 16:53
Abuja - Nigerian authorities on Thursday questioned a
man believed to be a spokesman for Islamist group Boko Haram after his
arrest as security forces seek to stop a wave of attacks blamed on the
Several security sources said on Wednesday that a
suspect believed to be the person who goes by the alias Abul Qaqa had
been arrested, but authorities have not officially confirmed his
detention or his identity.
One security source said he was flown to the capital Abuja on Wednesday and was undergoing questioning there.
is under interrogation," the security source in the capital said on
condition of anonymity on Thursday morning, declining to provide further
Meanwhile, the country's recently appointed police
chief Mohammed D Abubakar was expected in Kano, Nigeria's second-largest
city hit by co-ordinated bombings and shootings on January 20 that left
at least 185 people dead.
President Goodluck Jonathan, under
immense pressure over the government's failure to stop attacks blamed on
Boko Haram, sacked police chief Hafiz Ringim and all Ringim's deputies
on January 25.
There was heavy security in Kano ahead of Abubakar's expected visit, including a helicopter that hovered overhead.
The man who goes by the name Abul Qaqa has claimed to speak on behalf of Boko Haram on numerous occasions.
He has claimed responsibility for scores of attacks in Nigeria, including the Kano violence, the group's deadliest attack yet.
purported spokesperson has regularly held phone conferences with
journalists in the north-eastern city of Maiduguri, Boko Haram's base.
versions of the arrest emerged, with one source saying he had been
detained in the northern city of Kaduna early on Wednesday and others
saying it occurred in a raid in Maiduguri on Tuesday.
A secret police source said "he was tracked down using state of the art tracking equipment".
media reported that agents used GPS to track him and that the suspect
was from the Igala ethnic group in central Kogi state.
Ogar, a spokesperson for the secret police, did not respond to phone
calls on Thursday, but on Wednesday night said she could not confirm any
"When you have an ongoing operation, a lot of people are
brought in, and until you are able to put a face to a name ...,"
nothing can be confirmed, Ogar said. "My office has not confirmed to me
that they have him."
Boko Haram has carried out increasingly
sophisticated attacks, mostly in Nigeria's north, that have left
hundreds of people dead.
The spiralling violence has sparked deep
concern in the international community and shaken the country, whose
160 million population is roughly divided between a mainly Muslim north
and predominantly Christian south.
has been intense speculation over whether Boko Haram has formed links
with outside extremist groups, including al-Qaeda's north African
Diplomats say some Boko Haram members have sought
training abroad but that there is no proof of operational links with
foreign extremists and that the group remains domestically focused.
say the violence has been fed by deep poverty in the north, where
masses of unemployed youths have little trust in government or hope for
the future in a country long considered one of the world's most corrupt.
Haram has mainly targeted police stations and other symbols of
authority. Christians have also been killed, including in a wave of bomb
blasts on Christmas day, but Muslims have been victims of attacks as
The group has also claimed responsibility for the August
suicide bombing of the UN headquarters in Abuja which killed at least 25
It launched an uprising in 2009 put down by a brutal
military assault that left some 800 dead. After going dormant for about a
year, it re-emerged with a series of shootings and bomb blasts.