This Day (Lagos)

1 November 2012

Nigeria: IG - Senators Accused of Links to Boko Haram Are Being Investigated

Three senators from Borno State accused of links with Boko Haram are currently being investigated to ascertain the veracity or otherwise of the allegation.

The Inspector-General of Police (IG), Mohammed Abubakar, disclosed this Wednesday during the conference/training of sectional heads of zonal and state Criminal Investigation Departments (CIDs) at the Force Headquarters (FHQ), Abuja.

Senators Mohammed Ndume, representing Borno South Senatorial District; Ahmed Khalifa Zannah, representing Borno Central Senatorial District; and the former Governor of Borno State, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff, have been variously accused of having ties with the Islamic sect that has carried out terrorist attacks in Northern Nigeria.

But as the police carry out its investigation, Senator Zanna has sued the Minister of Defence, Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Chief of Defence Staff and the spokesman of the Joint Task Force (JTF), Lt. Colonel Sagir Musa, for defamation of character.

The IG said that the police are investigating the allegations against the senators and looking for evidence to prosecute the matter in a court of law.

"We are doing so much. We are looking for evidence and those who have it should give it to us. We are investigating. You cannot take anybody to court without concrete evidence. All the senators you are talking about are under watch and we are investigating.

"So we need assistance and that is part of what the seminar will discuss today (Wednesday) because these investigators need evidence to prosecute their cases," he pointed out.

The IG decried the decay and incompetence of the CID to resolve certain criminal cases that ordinarily should have been resolved quickly, adding that the investigative unit was very key and important in any police organisation in the world.

"There is no doubt that the investigative unit of the police is very key and important to any police organisation in the world. When we came on board, we realised the lapses and incompetence of not only police officers but also the department to resolve certain criminal cases that ordinarily should have been resolved quickly.

"We found it very expedient that we must go back on track. You are aware of the fact that there are several unresolved cases of murder, rape, kidnapping and other heinous crimes in this country not because the police are incompetent to resolve them or fish out those behind the acts.

"As such, we have several factors, which we shall discuss today (Wednesday) in order to move the force forward," Abubakar explained.

He further reiterated that the police was working towards the establishment of an efficient and effective CID that would command the respect of Nigerians, observe human rights, do justice to all, shun torture, refrain from illegal detention and grant bail to bailable offences without collecting bribes.

Speaking on the Hon. Farouk Lawan and Femi Otedola bribery case, Abubakar noted that there were other factors the police force had to key into for them to complete the investigation, saying that as soon as they complete the investigation, they would do what was right and ensure that prosecution takes place.

Despite the investigation by the Nigerian Police Force and the State Security Service (SSS) into his alleged ties to Boko Haram, Zannah has dragged the Minister of Defence, Chief of Defence Staff, AGF and JTF spokesman before an Abuja High Court, asking for N5 billion as damages for alleged defamation of character.

The suit filed by Gbenga Olagundoye on behalf of Zannah claimed that Musa on October 19 at a press conference used defamatory words against him.

According to the court papers, the written press statement issued by Musa was captioned "JTF Arrests Boko-Haram Commander in Senators House".

It added that JTF in the statement claimed that the high profile member of Boko-Haram, Shuaibu Bama, was arrested in the house of a serving senator along Damboa Road, GRA, Maidiguri.

Zannah said the statement ordinarily meant that he had harboured a wanted Boko-Haram terror suspect in his house, thereby suggesting that he is a supporter of the terrorist group.

He said the publication was a calculated move meant to disparage him before the general public.

Olagundoye claimed that Zannah had "suffered considerable distress, mental trauma, shock and embarrassment, as well as loss and damages."

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