Security agents recorded another milestone when a key Boko Haram terrorist and Shura member, Mohammed Zangina, aka Mallam Abdullahi/Alhaji Musa, who was believed to have coordinated the bombing last April of THISDAY's Abuja and Kaduna offices was arrested at noon yesterday at the Government Reserved Area (GRA) in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital.
In a statement issued by the Joint Task Force (JTF) spokesman, Lt. Col. Sagir Musa, he said Zangina was arrested in Maiduguri while trying to "plan several deadly attacks against civilians and security personnel any moment from today (yesterday)."
Zangina is the second Boko Haram leader to be arrested in last 24 hours, coming after the arrest of Hassan Pagi Bukur on Saturday at the Abuja residence of a former member of the House of Representatives, Hon. Tijani Umar Kumalia, from Borno State
Although the JTF did not tie Zangina to the bombing of THISDAY's Abuja and Kaduna offices, sources in the intelligence community said Zangina had masterminded the suicide bomb attacks on the media house which left two dead in Abuja (including the suicide bomber) and several injured.
THISDAY learnt that security operatives have been on his trail for several months and had at some point trailed him to his hideout in Jos, Plateau State, where his wife had claimed that he had died in an accident.
Speaking on his capture, the JTF said: "During the exchange of gunfire, he sustained life-threatening injuries but was caught and is undergoing interrogation at an undisclosed location.
"He is the Amir of North-central part of Nigeria and the coordinator of all the suicide attacks in Jos, Kaduna, Kano and Abuja. He had escaped several raids on his hideouts in Abuja, Jos, Zaria, Kaduna, and most recently in Potiskum. A bounty of N25 million was placed on him by JTF on November 23, 2012."
Meanwhile, the arrest of a Bukur at the residence of Kumalia, in Abuja on Saturday has caused consternation in the capital city. Bukur was arrested alongside Kumalia's domestic security guard.
THISDAY learnt that the arrest came on the trail of intelligence reports pointing to the possible infiltration of Abuja by Boko Haram members, which has caused panic among the city's residents, especially those who attended church services in Abuja yesterday.
Earlier in the week, security operatives along with officials of the Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA) had raided some spots and seized some motorcycles whose riders had no identifiable location.
Residents of Abuja, especially those living in Gwarinpa Estate, where Bukur was arrested, were thrown into panic mode when they saw some police and military helicopters hovering over the area. There was also unusually heavy presence of intelligence personnel in the area.
Security sources told THISDAY that part of the brief on Bukur was to receive stolen vehicles from top sect members, including one Babwo and Senior, who are also on the wanted list of security agencies.
The former lawmaker who was in the House between 2003 to 2007 has been telling operatives all he knows about Bukur and his security man, whom he claimed he employed from Sokoto State to guard his house.
A source further confirmed that Bukur had admitted to his role in the sect but added that Kumalia also bought vehicles from him.
Kumalia is, however, fighting to distance himself from the allegation. Although the former lawmaker is not being detained, he is being closely monitored and has been asked to report to the State Security Service (SSS) office regularly while he is under investigation to determine his relationship with the terrorist Islamic sect.
Before Saturday's arrest, security agents had established that almost all the vehicles used for suicide bombings, including the Isuzu Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV) used to bomb THISDAY office in Abuja by the terrorists, were stolen.