Government yesterday recorded another major feat in the fight against Boko Haram Islamic fundamentalist sect when six prominent members of the sect, who took part in the abduction and killing of two expatriate staff of Stabilini Visioni Construction Company in Sokoto last week.
This is as the Department of State Security (DSS) headquarters yesterday paraded them, saying they were apprehended in various parts of the country in the course of investigating the abduction of the British and Italian nationals (Christopher McManus and Franco Lamolinara, respectively), who were abducted at their residence in Birnin Kebbi, Kebbi state on May 11, 2011.
The sect has killed no less than 1,000 persons in various parts of the country since they commenced their onslaught to Islamise the northern parts of the country.
They had bombed churches, mosques, markets, shops and have recently resorted to burning primary schools as well as attacking military, police and other security agencies and para-military outfits.
According to Mr. Doyin Adetuberu, second-in-command to Merylin Ogar, the Assistant Director, Public Relations of the DSS, "after a painstaking investigation process, the Service made a number of arrests in Adamawa, Katsina, Kaduna, Sokoto and Kebbi States".
He said the people who were behind the dastardly act were aged between 19 and 20 and were discovered to have conducted surveillance on the victims before their abduction and taking into hostage.
Said Adetuberu: "They are Bashir Ibrahim (aka Adda'u); Ibrahim A. Habibu and Gambol Maiborodi. Further investigations revealed that the plot was masterminded by the Abu Mohammed led faction of the Boko Haram in Nigeria.
"Following a raid on Abu Mohammed's hideout at Layin Hanwa area of Zaria on 7th of March, 2012, Abu Mohammed and five others were arrested while holding a Shura Council (the sect's highest decision making body) meeting. In the ensuing exchange of gunfire, a soldier was killed and his throat slashed while one service personnel was seriously injured by members of the Boko Haram sect. Abu Mohammed and the other suspects sustained various degrees of wounds".
The DSS spokesman added that the guards protecting the two foreign hostages in Sokoto had been directed by their sect leader to kill them in the event of any envisaged threat.
"The arrested suspects, therefore, advised that a rescue operation be immediately initiated moreso as one of them had escaped during the Zaria raid.
"Consequently, a joint security operation was launched. One of the arrested suspects, Mohammed Rabiu Adam (aka Dan Hajiya) who killed the soldier during the Zaria raid, led the security team from Zaria about 11 pm on Wednesday 7th of March, 2012 to Sokoto and arrived their destination about 4:30 am on the 8th of March, 2012".
He added that "prior to their arrival, security operatives had mounted a street cordon and search operation along all the routes around Mabera Estate, Sokoto to prevent any attempt by the guards to smuggle out the hostages.
"Apparently acting on the directive of their member of the sect who escaped from Zaria, the guards murdered the hostages before the arrival of security forces. However, the guards could not leave the building because of the heavy security presence in the area".
The DSS added that when the security forces arrived at the building where the hostages were being held, there was a prolonged exchange of gunfire during which three of the guards were killed while the wife of one of them, sustained bullet wounds and was rushed to the hospital.
He said no lives were lost on the part of the security forces though some Service personnel sustained gunshot injuries.
"Altogether, the following persons have been arrested in connection with the incident: Abu Mohammed, Mohammed Rabi (aka Dan Hajiya), Abubakar Abdulrahman Habibu, Shitu Salihu, Abubakar Umar and Ahmed Samaila," he added.
He said Abu Mohammed unfortunately died on March 9, following severe bullet wounds sustained during the Zaria raid.
Meanwhile, Senate yesterday mandated its Committees on National Security and Intelligence, Defence and Army and Foreign Affairs, to investigate the recent failed attempt to rescue two foreigners captured by dreaded Boko Haram sect that eventually led to the killing of the hostages by their captors.
The decision of Red Chamber to investigate the failed rescue attempt was sequel to a motion sponsored by Senator Atiku Abubakar Bagudu, who expressed dissatisfaction with incessant cases of kidnapping, abduction and hostage taking in the country.
In his remarks, Senate President David Mark, said the judiciary should be an important part of the struggle at wiping out terrorism, noting that the committees would have to look into the rescue operation with a view to determining what went wrong.
Although some senators said the rescue attempt was not failed because the perpetrators were killed and other arrested, Mark insisted that since the goal of the operation was to rescue the hostages, not achieving the goal was a failure.
Also, a minute's silence was observed by senators for the departed, even as it was resolved that a condolence message would be sent to the Governments of Britain and Italy as well as the families of the deceased.
Bagudu said the two gentlemen were held for over 10 months by terrorists until last Thursday they were killed by their abductors in the process of a joint rescue operation by Nigeria and British Special Forces.
In his words: "The Senate was aware of the pains, anguish and sorrow endured by the gentlemen, families and all those involved in the tragic rescue effort and observed the unprecedented diplomatic cooperation provided by the Federal Government of Nigeria to both Britain and Italy, a measure that underlies Nigeria's firm commitment against criminality and terrorism."
Bagudu further said the Federal Government, the Governments of Sokoto and Kebbi States, religious leaders and traditional rulers had called for the full sanction of the law on the perpetrators of the act.
Speaking in support of the motion, Senator Isa Galaudu said the operation might have been conducted in a manner that was below expectation and not properly planned, resulting in the death of the hostages.
But, the Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu, told the lawmakers that Nigerian security agencies could have done better if they had been allowed to handle the operation without the involvement of an outside entity.
Kicking against the position of Deputy Senate President, Senate Leader Victor Ndoma-Egba, said: "It is well know that terrorism is a trans-border and transnational issue. It is no longer a local matter. We should be able to look beyond our borders in tackling the issues."
He said the thought that it was improper to engage the services of the British Forces was wrong in the light of the fact that a British citizen was involved.
In his contribution, Senator Pius Ewerhido, said the development was a national embarrassment, noting that security agencies should take advantage of the SIM card registration to reduce the activities of kidnappers in the country.