The Federal Government’s war on terrorism got a boost in Damaturu, Yobe State yesterday when soldiers captured one of the believed masterminds of last Christmas Day bombing of St. Theresa’s Catholic Church, Madalla, Niger State.
In the net of the Joint Task Force (JTF) after a shoot-out is Habib Bama, an ex-soldier. Scores of worshippers were either killed or injured in the Madalla attack which was claimed by the Islamist sect, Boko Haram.
Security sources said that Hama, one of the Boko Haram leaders, who is believed to hail from Borno State, was arrested in Damaturu metropolis yesterday morning by the troops after a gun duel. A top security official told reporters on condition of anonymity that the suspected Madalla Christmas Day bombing mastermind had made spirited efforts to resist arrest but was “over-powered by heavy gun-shots and bombardment by soldiers deployed for the brief, but successful operation.”
He was seriously injured. The source also said the arrest was possible due to intelligence networking. It was believed that Bama, who was declared wanted by the State Security Service (SSS) since January, might have sneaked into Damaturu to lead the Sunday attacks in the Yobe State capital which claimed the lives of over 30 people and many others injured. “I think he couldn’t sneak out of the town again because of the 24 hours curfew since Monday,” a military officer told journalists
An official of the newly-deployed JTF in Damaturu who does not want his name in print, confirmed Bama’s arrest, adding that it was possible following a tip-off provided by some residents in Damaturu and Potiskum, adding that troops and other intelligent agents in the state swung into action which culminated in his arrest in the early hours of yesterday. “Habib Bama was picked up from an undisclosed location in the metropolis, but attempted to escape this morning (Thursday).”
He, however, did not give further details on how the suspect was arrested by the JTF soldiers. He urged the residents to continue to co-operate with the JTF, police and other security operatives in restoring peace and protection of lives and property. Meanwhile, the Yobe State Government yesterday reviewed the 24 hours curfew from 10am to 4pm “until the security situation improves.”
A statement from the governor’s Special Adviser on Press Affairs and Information, Abdullahi Bego, said: “Consequently, public movement within Damaturu metropolis is now allowed between 10am and 4.00p.m daily. Members of the general public are expected to remain in their homes from 4.00pm to 10.00am daily.
Restriction on public movement in other parts of the state remains from 10.00pm to 6.00am daily, while restriction of movements in Potiskum township remains between 6.00pm and 6.00am daily. These restrictions will be subject to periodic review as the security situation in Damaturu and around the state continues to improve,” he said.