Source: Vanguard/ allAfrica
The General Officer Commanding, GOC, First Mechanised Division of the Nigerian Army, Major-General Garba Wahab, yesterday defended the arrest of 33 suspected Boko Haram adherents in Kaduna, saying the suspects had perfected plans to cause havoc in the state.
Kaduna State Information Commissioner, Alhaji Saidu Adamu had protested arrest of the suspects, pointing out that those detained by the military were not members of the Islamic sect.
Adamu said, « we want to state that there is no truth in that assertion that soldiers arrested 33 Boko Haram members in Kaduna. We find it necessary to make this clarification to put the records straight and calm down unnecessary tension. »
But in an interactive session with community leaders and newsmen, General Wahab argued that the suspects had prepared to strike Kaduna had they not been arrested, noting that the Army had no reason to arrest innocent Nigerians.
« We want to assure everybody that the troops were deployed to do what they ought to have done. The arrests were made after 10pm that fateful day and 13 of those arrested were from Niger Republic. We will not just pick anybody to detain if we did not have facts at our disposal. Before effecting the arrest, we were sure of our facts and that was why it took us three weeks of surveillance before those people were arrested.
« Information gathered revealed that the arrested suspects were hiding weapons in an unknown destination which prompted their arrest. We want to assure residents of Kaduna that the Army will not go out of its way to pick innocent persons.
« What we are doing is for the safety of the people in the state and not to gain favours from other sources.
On the day of the raid we arrested 100 people but after interrogation, 67 of them were released since investigation proved they were innocent. However, 33 others are still in our custody out of which 13 are Nigeriens. »
Also speaking, the District Head of Barnawa, Alhaji Kabiru Zubairu, said the community had a committee whereby all Nigeriens in its domain were screened and registered, adding that they were not visitors to the area.
Zubairu said « nine of the people arrested were commercial motorcyclists from Malumfashi in Katsina State and we have been living peacefully until this incident; even one of my brother’s sons is among the people arrested.
« I even tried to convince them that government cannot come and arrest people without having concrete evidence. I cannot give 100 percent assurance that the people arrested are not linked with the sect, but I am pleading with the government to ensure justice because it is a security issue. »
He then appealed to the authorities to carry out investigation and release the innocent ones as according to him, « we want Kaduna to remain a place people can live without fear of discrimination. »
By Luka Binniyat