3 December 2012

Nigeria: Controversy Trails Army Operation At Zaria Bomb Factory

Zaria — There are mixed reactions over claims by the military authorities that they arrested a 60-year old man at the premises of a bomb factory discovered in Jushin, a community in Zaria city. Local residents said nobody was found in the house during the operation, just as the son of the arrested man claimed that his father was arrested in his personal house, not at the bomb factory.

On Friday, the military announced that a combined team of Army, Police and operatives of the State Security Service (SSS) has uncovered and demolished a bomb making factory at Jushin village in Zaria city of Kaduna state.

Spokesperson of the 1 Division of the Nigerian Army, Kaduna, Colonel Sani Kukasheka Usman, told journalists that a 60-year-old man, Umaru Mohammed, was arrested within the premises of the factory.

But reacting yesterday, Mohammed's son, Tasiu, said: "My father was arrested by the security operatives in our house on Thursday and not inside the house they raided and demolished. I was surprised when I read in the newspapers that he was arrested in the bomb factory. My father is a house agent and not a terrorist."

The army spokesman said the operation which was carried out at the early hours of Thursday lasted for over six hours. "During the operation, a two-bedroom bungalow of bomb making factory was discovered in which Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) in stage one state of readiness," he said.

According to him, the team recovered 17 remote controls; 11 primed suicide bomber vests, 36 primed IEDs in Bobo cans and two gallons of paint containing prepared IEDs. Other items recovered, according to him include two gallons of Turkey oil brand with prepared IEDs; 7 rolls of wires; one bag containing sensors and 25 batteries.

"Both the suspect and the items recovered are under our custody. We would like to commend the efforts of the well-meaning citizens that reported the matter. The fight against terrorism is a collective one that we must all contribute for us to overcome. We are dealing with people that are on the other side, as such we must all work together," the army spokesman said.

However, residents of Jushin have faulted the claims of the Army authority. Elders in Jushi community yesterday converged at the palace of the Emir of Zazzau to see him over the issue.

Speaking to Daily Trust, a leader of Jushin community, Alhaji Yusuf Mohammed, said the house belonged to orphans and that the 60-year-old man arrested by the security was a house agent.

A neighbour of the demolished house, Mallam Usman Adamu, 50, said he was the one that led the security operatives to Mallam Umaru's house.

"When the soldiers approached me in my house and asked whether I was the one that gave the house out, I said no. They now asked me to take them to the caretaker's house. So I was the one who took them to Umar's house," he said.

According to him, the soldiers took Mallam Umar to the demolished house and asked him the whereabouts of the occupants.

"They told him that the people he gave house to are bomb makers. The soldiers did not harass us but I was surprised when they said he was arrested within the bomb factory," the suspect's neighbour said.

He said the owner of the house, Mallam Mohammed Lawal, died seven years ago.

"The house was rented out to a man, about three months ago by Mallam Umar. The tenant told him (Mallam Umar) that he was planning to marry a new wife. I don't know him, (the tenant) because I only saw him once and it was around 8.pm," he added.

Gambo Bala, another neighbour of the bomb factory alleged that he was molested by the security agents.

"I was inside my house when they came. When my son played his ball outside the gate, I went out to pick it. A soldier approached me and started beating me and his colleagues joined. I spent over five hours under the sun. I was in the sun throughout the demolition," he added.

Gambo said the soldiers left him when he presented his Identity card to them. He said is a staff of Agric department of Kudan local government area of Kaduna state.

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