Buried in the middle of the lead story of Nigeria’s Thiday newpaper’s of today (Thursday, January 19, 2011) was another story. It was big enough to be the paper’s main story but it was surprisingly buried in the middle of another story, which though important was not big enough to swallow this other story in my estimation.
This buried story was the granting of bail to Boko Haram suspects that were facing charges over the planting of bombs in Suleja, a town in middle belt Nigeria. The charges the suspects faced included the detonation of bombs at various public places which led to the deaths of 16 persons at the electoral commission’s office in Suleja on April 8, 2011.
Other offences alleged to have been committed by them include the death of three persons at a political rally in Suleja on March 3, 2011; deaths of three Peace Officers on May 23, 2011 at Dakwa Village in Bwari Area Council of the FCT; and the deaths of three persons at the All Christian Fellowship Church Suleja on July 10, 2011.
Basically, these six suspects are facing trial over the deaths of a minimum of 25 persons through a devilish bombing campaign. Yet they were granted bail with terms that made it look like they killed their neighbour’s goat. They were granted bail in the sum of N2 million and one surety in like sum with the provision that the surety must be a Grade Level 12 civil servant working under the Federal Government or the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) authority and must be resident in Abuja.
Anyone familiar with the Nigerian legal system, which could jail a man for smiling at another man’s wife, will be highly surprised at this development. From the story in Thisday, these men were not granted bail because the evidence brought against them by the Nigerian police was weak, they were granted bail because the judge considered them eligible for bail, eligible to walk the street even if there is enough evidence to show that these men may be very dangerous.
The bail granted is even more surprising considering that murder is not a bail able offence in Nigeria as in many other jurisdictions. So on what basis is the judge of a Federal High Court granting bail to suspects accused for series of bombings that led to 25 deaths? Has Boko Haram members also infiltrated the judiciary?
Increasingly, it is becoming obvious that the Boko Haram terrorist group are embedded in government or have active support from official sources. The on-going controversy over the escape of the main suspect behind the Madalla Catholic Church bomb blast that killed about 40 people, after being arrested in a governor’s lodge and then escaping while hand cuffed and with police escort further raised the possibility of high level conspiracy being hatched using Boko Haram as a cover.
The Leadership newspaper, based in Northern Nigeria had reported that the Boko Haram suspect may have been allowed to escape due to “the alleged involvement of two sons of a prominent traditional ruler in the Madalla bombing.”
According to Leadership Newspapers quoting an unidentified source “the suspect’s escape might have been stage-managed by the police. “The suspect, who is also known to be an arms dealer, was reportedly tracked down by the security forces and investigation had linked him to the sons of the traditional ruler who is said to enjoy political patronage from people in the corridors of power” The paper reported.
Also interesting revelations has been made about Zakari Biu, the commissioner of police, under whose watch the chief suspect in the Madalla bombing escaped. A profile of him in Thisday today read like fiction. Zakari Biu who is said to have lost his son to the Independence day bomb attacks at Eagle Square, Abuja on October 1 st 2010, however is also suspected to have been behind a series of bomb attacks on civilians under the late President Sani Abacha, according to Thisday. The Independence Day bomb attack was suspected to have been carried out by the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND).
Interestingly, Zakari Biu is also from Borno State, where Boko Haram originated and the hot bed of Boko Haram activities in Northern Nigeria. The suspect that was allowed to escape is also from the State and was arrested in the Borno’s State governor’s lodge. Are all these just coincidence of happenings or a trail to unravel the Boko Haram mystery? Did Zakari Biu develop sympathy for the Madalla bomb suspect and allow him escape or he has been one of the link men in the security forces for Boko Haram all these while?
The link between Boko Haram and the security forces and the judiciary has always been an issue even before the Nigerian President raised the alarm that the Boko Haram sect members have infiltrated his government. There have been allegations in the past of how members of the sect when arrested are quietly released by the police due to pressure from top traditional rulers or political office holders. In some instances, charges are dropped against them quietly or in some cases they are granted bail and the case is never prosecuted again. The emerging picture is a mafia like inter linkages between the Nigerian security forces, political office holders, judiciary and the members of the Boko Haram sect. What is still not very clear is their agenda. Obviously, they are not bombing the lives out of innocent Nigerians for the fun of it.Breaking News as I am about posting this on my blog is that the Madalla Catholic Church bombing Boko Haram suspect has been arrested again. Good news. But I hope it is the same person, since the person initially arrested was not shown to the media? I am sceptical? Well, strange things do happen. Forgive me.