Troops of the Nigerian Army 144 Battalion in Asa, Ukwa West Local Government Area of Abia State ,have captured a wanted terrorist kingpin among the 486 Boko Haram suspects intercepted in Abia State on Sunday.
The Defence Headquarters, DHQ, which made this disclosure in Abuja, yesterday, however, said that the screening was continuing in Abia State until the military was satisfied with the true motives of that mass movement.
Soldiers of the 144 Battalion had arrested the 486 suspects travelling from Adamawa State to Port Harcourt in Rivers State.
The arrested suspects were moving in a motorcade of 35 Hummer buses when they were intercepted by soldiers around 2am between Arungwa Junction on the Enugu-Port Harcourt Expressway and Imo Gate, the boundary between Abia and Rivers States.
Two of the buses carrying the insurgents were said to have escaped arrest and it was not clear whether the occupants succeeded in entering Port Harcourt or they were within the Abia State territory.
Speaking through the Director of Defence Information, DDI, Maj.-Gen. Chris Olukolade, the DHQ said: “A terror kingpin in the list of wanted terrorists of security forces in Nigeria have been detected in the ongoing screening of the 486 suspects nabbed while travelling in over 33 Hiace Hummer buses at night along Enugu-Port Harcourt expressway last Sunday.
“So far other security agencies, including the para-military, have joined the screening exercise to ascertain the status of the remaining suspects.
“Those identified as possible security risk or illegal immigrants are expected to be identified for further action.
“Meanwhile, the identified terror kingpin has been taken into custody. Further development will be communicated to you in due course.”
Following the arrest, Abia State Civil Liberty Organisation, CLO, and the Aba Hausa community have called for security beefup in the area.
CLO Chairman, Aba Unit, Dr. Charles Chinekezi, said the arrest of the suspects in Aba and Sunday’s uncovering of Improvised Explosive Devices, IEDs, at the auditorium and car park of the headquarters of the Living Faith Church a.k.a Winners’ Chapel, in Imo State was a clear indication that the Boko Haram insurgents had infiltrated the South-East.
Chinekezi said since this was the case, governments of the South-East should beef up security in the zone to prevent the insurgents from wreaking havoc in the area.
He said that since insurgents had allegedly infiltrated federal security organs, the South-East state governments should make special security arrangement to curb any security challenge in the area.
Chinekezi said that CLO aligned itself with the security measures put in place by the governor of Imo State code named ‘Know your neighbour’ and urged other South-East state governors to emulate him.
Also, the former Amirulhajj of Abia State and Deputy Chairman of Aba Muslim Community, Alhaji Musa Iheakaram, urged the state government and security agencies operating in Abia and the entire South- East to beef up security in their states.
Iheakaram said it had shown that the dreaded sect was in the zone.
“The discovery of the IEDs planted at headquarters of the Living Faith Church a.k.a Winners’ Chapel in Owerri by terrorists should be an eye-opener because that which happened in Owerri on Sunday could happen to any church or mosque in Aba,” he said.
He called on the police in Owerri to make public the names of those it had arrested in connection with the Winners Chapel incident, which he said would help to determine where they came from.