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Update: Arrested 486 Terrorists Now Called Traders By Northern Leaders Based in Aba, Abia State

New York[RR] ASA–87 out of 486 arrested terrorists by intelligence agencies based in Abia State are purported now as traders heading to Igweocha (aka Port-Harcourt) for normal business deals, Republic Reporters has learnt. According to DailyTrust.com, “Leaders of northern communities in South-South and South-East yesterday called for the unconditional release of 486 traders arrested by […]

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New York[RR] ASA–87 out of 486 arrested terrorists by intelligence agencies based in Abia State are purported now as traders heading to Igweocha (aka Port-Harcourt) for normal business deals, Republic Reporters has learnt.

According to DailyTrust.com, “Leaders of northern communities in South-South and South-East yesterday called for the unconditional release of 486 traders arrested by soldiers in Asa, Abia State..”, it said.

It must be recalled these curlous men were arrested in Asa-Ngwa Abia state allegedly around 2am in the morning. Dailytrust.com said this happened in “two days beginning Saturday as they headed for Port Harcourt where they are mainly based and engaged in trade and menial jobs…”, it said.

Spokesman of the leaders’ forum in the region, Alhaji Musa Saidu, said at the moment they are making efforts to reach out to top military authorities on the matter.

Certain Alhaji Musa ‘maintained that the detainees are not Boko Haram members, “but innocent artisans and traders from the North who are in the region to earn a living.

“We are not relenting in our efforts to ensure the unconditional release of these people. We are finding it difficult at present because the Army authorities in both Abia and Rivers states say they don’t have powers to free the detainees.

“We were there yesterday, but did not achieve anything. They kept telling us that they are acting on orders from above. I want to use this medium to appeal to the military authorities again to release these people. They are innocent traders who travel all the way from the North to sell their wares. Most of them trade in food stuff. They normally come from Jigawa and Bauchi states to sell food stuff. After buying the food stuff, they load their wares in trucks and use buses to come back to Port Harcourt. Others are artisans, cobblers and wheelbarrow pushers. They like to move in groups,” he said.

He added: “The Military has an intelligence unit and they should know how to carry out investigation to find out the mission of these people and if they have carried out their investigation and have found the suspects to be innocent, they should be released and allowed to go. They were arrested since Saturday and from the information we gathered, they have not taken their bath since then. They were denied access to food and medication. Some of them are now ill because they are kept in an open place. The Director of Defence Information said one of the kingpins of Boko Haram who is on their wanted list is among the suspects. If that is true, such person should be made to face the full wrath of the law. But our prayer is that innocent people should not be allowed to suffer.”

“Meanwhile, in Aba, Abia State, northerners, especially traders have called on their hosts to stop associating them with the Boko Haram sect, saying not every northerner is in support of the group.

Addressing journalists in Aba yesterday, the Chief Imam of Aba Central Mosque, Alhaji Idris Bashir and Secretary of the Aba Onions Market, Alhaji Sani Jos, lamented that since the soldiers arrested the 486 northern traders traveling to Port Harcourt, the Igbos are labelling every northerner Boko Haram.

Republic Reporters gathered that these Northern leaders cried out stating, “They noted that calling everybody from the North Boko Haram is like giving a dog a bad name in order to hang it.

“When you drive your vehicle anyhow, they (Igbos) will start abusing you by calling you Boko Haram. And this thing is making us angry. Honestly, we are not happy at all,” Alhaji Idris said.

“Due process should be followed in the screening so that those who are innocent are released immediately. And if they (soldiers) find anyone among them who is a member of Boko Haram, they should take him or her away”.

Bashir, who said the Muslim community in Aba are 100 per cent behind soldiers and other security outfits in ensuring peace in the country, urged the military to publish the name of the Boko Haram kingpin, who it said was among the 486 northerners arrested.

“We are not saying that soldiers or security agents should not do their jobs; we did not say so. What we are saying is that they should do it properly. How can they continue to hold the innocent people among them? If there is any bad egg among them, let them take those people to Abuja and continue their investigation,” he said.

On Wednesday Mr Mike Omeri, the Coordinator, National Information Centre, said the 486 people arrested by security operatives on Sunday, in Abia, were travellers.

Omeri disclosed this at a joint news conference organised by the centre in Abuja, which was reported by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).

The coordinator said the arrest of the travellers was not targeted at any group of persons or individual, but done in view of the general security situation in the country.

He said when the suspects were interrogated, one of them, who had been on the watch list of the Department of State Security Services (DSS) since 2007, was identified.

Omeri said that the incident further led to the questioning of the suspects, who were travelling in “a convoy of over 30 buses with none of them having up to N1,000.

“Clearly, their mission was suspicious and had to be thoroughly investigated; we, therefore, appeal for the understanding of the public in allowing our security agencies carry out their legitimate duties.’’

Republic Reporters publication attracted wide reactions from commentators and political analysts

Dr. Mike Okeke said; “Boko Haram’s menacing activities in Nigeria dates back to about 2002 and appears to be growing at a geometric rate since then. Today, this terrorist organization has claimed tens of thousands of lives of Nigerians including the lives of its misguided young members who could have made positive contributions to the growth of Nigeria, but for their fanatical devotion to their misguided ideology. I wonder why the leadership of Nigeria appears to have ignored efforts in going after the sponsors of this deadly organization called Boko Haram, so as to put a permanent stop to this madness. All we have been hearing for years now is how the Nigerian security forces captured or killed the insurgents – Boko Haram members. If you truly mean to cut down a tree, the most effective way to accomplish that is to go to the roots and uproot the tree. Cutting off the leaves and the branches of a standing tree will not terminate the life of such a tree. All it does is to create a momentary illusion that the tree is now out of the way. But before you turn around, the roots will supply the tree with nourishments, enabling the tree to grow out new and stronger branches and leaves. If the leadership in Nigeria is really serious about eliminating the terroristic activities of Boko Haram, why has the leadership ignored the sponsors of Boko Haram? Why are the Nigerian security forces killing off our misguided northern young men rather than going after their sponsors? Does anyone out there believe that Nigerian government does not know who the sponsors of Boko Haram are? How can the authorities in Nigeria with all their intelligence apparatus not know who the sponsors of Boko Haram are since 2002? Who is fooling who here? I am beginning to believe that this Boko Haram stuff is politics as usual for Nigeria’s leadership. Just stop and consider how many misguided young Boko Haram members who have either died as suicide bombers or killed by Nigerian security forces. Can anyone tell us the number? These are young men who could have been productive members of the Nigerian society, but they are out there being manipulated to die for the rich and the powerful. Many more will die in this foolishness and deception as the leadership in Nigeria continues to protect the sponsors of Boko Haram and continues to pretend and deceive the world that it is fighting terrorism. Recently, it was reported (below) that 35 commercial buses carrying unemployed young men from the north aged between 18 and 24, suspected to be Boko Haram members, made their way into the Igbo heart land of Abia state. Out of the 35 commercial buses, 33 were intercepted while the other 2 buses escaped with their occupants. If the occupants of the 2 escaped buses are Boko boys, I wonder where they are now. The thought of this makes me very uneasy. “Agwo no kwa na akilika” – (there is a deadly snake hiding in our roof). From the 33 intercepted buses, about 486 young male passengers suspected to be Boko Haram members were detained for interrogation. This is another opportunity to ask the commercial bus drivers the following questions:

1. Who are the owners of the buses?
2. Who are the bus drivers working for?
3. Who paid for the buses to transport these young men?
4. What is the relationship between the bus owners and the persons who paid for their services.

The above questions and more in the same line will lead us to who the sponsors are – assuming Nigeria’s leadership does not know, which I strongly doubt at this point. Boko Haram appears to have sophisticated war weapons, including vehicles. Those poor and misguided members of Boko Haram clearly don’t have the wherewithal. Clearly, some wealthy and powerful persons are financing this whole deadly insurgent business. It is difficult for me to believe that the leadership of Nigeria does not know or is not able to know who these sponsors are. Whether the sponsors of Boko Haram are inside or outside Nigeria, it is impossible for the leadership of Nigeria to deny their knowledge since 2002. Just follow the money trail and it will lead you to the sponsors of Boko Haram. Calling on America to come and help fight Boko Haram in Nigeria makes no sense to me because Nigeria has not made any visible efforts to expose and bring the sponsors of Boko Haram to justice. Nigeria does not need America to fight Boko Haram and this my candid opinion. Get rid of the sponsors of Boko Haram and their terroristic activity will come to an end. Why is this so hard for the leadership of Nigeria to do? How many more innocent lives will be lost just because the leadership of Nigeria prefers to protect the sponsors of Boko Haram rather than protect the lives of the citizens? When shall the leadership in Nigeria start showing earnest and sincere concern for the poor and the suffering masses who become sacrificial lambs for the rich and the powerful? The Boko boys appear now to have penetrated into the Igbo heartland with their deadly jihad mission. Our homeland is truly on fire and there will be nowhere to hide. Nowhere is safe in Nigeria anymore. The leadership in Nigeria is busy playing politics and makes no efforts to uproot this deadly tree by exposing the sponsors of Boko Haram and bringing them to justice. The cup of corruption is now full and running over. Only the poor will continue to die for the crimes of the rich.., “, he said from his Atlanta base.

Another source said the arrest was made in Asa, Ukwa-Ngwa, LGA: “The 144 battalion of the Nigerian Army, Asa in Ukwa West Local Government Area of Abia State last Sunday arrested a convoy of 33 buses conveying 486 suspected insurgents including eight females between Aro Ngwa and Imo Gate along the Enugu- Port Harcourt expressway.

“The suspects intercepted around 3am on Sunday, claimed to have come from different parts of the Northern states and aged mainly between 16 and 24 and were said to be searching for jobs.

Briefing newsmen at the Headquarters of the 144 Battalion of the Army, Asa where the suspects are being detained, alongside the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Mr. Charles Ajunwa and Commander of the military base, Lieutenant Colonel Rasheed Omolori who confirmed the arrest, the Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Abia State, Dr. Eze Chikamnayo, explained that two buses escaped with their occupants.

Although Lieutenant Colonel Omolori declined comment, he said the incident has been reported to the Defence Headquarters, Abuja.

It added: “The Commissioner said the sheer size of the movement made it suspicious, adding that none of the suspects was able to identify the location they were heading to and wondered how such a long motorcade could not be intercepted by security personnel until they reached Abia.
Dr. Chikamnayo said that at the moment, the Army and other security agencies in the state were working to unravel the actual mission of the suspects and those behind the movement.

The Information boss thanked the state Governor, Chief Theodore Orji for creating the enabling environment and investing resources for security personnel to do their job effectively as well as lauded the men of the Nigerian Army and other security agencies for being alive to their responsibility.

He was of the view that if other security personnel in other parts of the country will do as much as their counterparts in Abia, insurgency in the country will be a thing of the past.

“I expect every state to work hand-in-hand with their security personnel to check insurgency. Every security problem is local and if we handle it locally it will be nipped in the bud,” he said.

He cited the case of Abia State during the days of kidnapping and how it was taken as an Abia problem and condemned the idea of demonstrating in Abuja over matters that should be handled locally…”, it said.

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Uche Igwe

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