Barely three weeks after the Benue State Governor Gabriel Suswam raised an alarm that suspected members of the Boko Haram sect were after his life, a kingpin of the group, Ali Jalingo, yesterday escaped arrest in Gboko town of Gboko Local Government Area of the state when security operatives raided the area in search of him.
LEADERSHIP gathered that the raid which took place in Gboko South, at about 3:00am Sunday morning was characterised by exchange of gunshots from the operatives and some some gunmen, and in the process Jalingo escaped.
The Benue State Police Command said yesterday that it was a military team from Abuja, including soldiers and men of the State Security Service (SSS) that carried out the operation, denying that the police in Benue were involved.
Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), DSP Daniel Ezeala who spoke to LEADERSHIP on phone said "it was not the police in Benue that carried out the operation. The incident happened in Gboko Benue State but it was the military and the state security service in Abuja that carried it out. And so we (Benue police command) cannot give the details of the incident and I cannot tell you anything more than that."
Meanwhile, it was further gathered that Jalingo had rented an apartment behind an Islamic primary school in Gboko South belonging to one individual identified as 'Dan Tsoho'.
Jalingo who is said to have hailed from Niger Republic and was declared wanted in connection with various bombings in Borno and other parts of Northern Nigeria was alleged to have been in Gboko town for some time now. He had reportedly lodged at a new hotel in Gboko before renting the apartment in Gboko South Metropolis, the Tiv ancestral home.
According to an eye witness, who simply gave his name as Mohammed, "There were gunshots around Gboko South in the early hours of Sunday, precisely 3am. People thought it was thieves on rampage. But as the day broke, a source from that part of the town told our correspondent that soldiers were after a suspected Boko Haram agent, Ali Jalingo."
"This evening, at about 6pm, bulldozers were sited at the vicinity doing their job. Five minutes later, the house was reduced to rubbles. Some residents were said to have deserted the area while sighting the presence of heavily armed security personnel", he said.