7 June 2013

Nigeria: Military Lays Claim to Killing Boko Haram Kingpin

The military Thursday claimed that it had killed a top commander of Boko Haram, Abubakar Adam Kambar, designated "global terrorist" by the United States along with two others on June 21, 2012.

The US Department of State designated Kambar along with Boko Haram leader, Abubakar Shekau and Khalid al-Barnawi as Specially Designated Global Terrorists under section 1(b) of Executive Order 13224.

It described al-Barnawi and Kambar as having ties to Boko Haram, and close links to al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, a designated foreign terrorist organisation.

However, the Nigerian military, according to a report thursday by Agence France Presse (AFP), claimed that Kambar was killed in an operation last year, though Washington had not confirmed the death.

Lieutenant Colonel Mohammed Suleiman said Kambar was killed on March 18, 2012, three months before the US label.

Defence spokesman, Brigadier General Chris Olukolade, said that might have been because information had not been properly passed along, but could not give further details.

Another military spokesman, Lieutenant Colonel Sagir Musa, also confirmed the death but declined to give details on why the US designation would have been issued afterwards.

"We trailed him to somewhere. He didn't want to be arrested, so we gunned him down," Suleiman told AFP after a briefing to journalists in Maiduguri where he mentioned Kambar's killing.

US officials in Nigeria were not immediately available to comment.

During the briefing, Suleiman called Kambar "the main link with al-Qaeda and al-Shebab," referring to Somalia's Islamist insurgent group.

Security sources had previously estimated Kambar to be in his mid-30s and a native of Borno State.

He was said to have been an active member of Boko Haram at the time of a 2009 uprising in Maiduguri, which was crushed by the military.

According to security sources, he fled Nigeria after the uprising was put down but eventually returned.

Boko Haram members have trained with al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) in northern Mali and there have been suspicions of further links with it and other extremist groups in Africa.

Meanwhile, in a veiled reference to the crisis rocking his party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), and challenge by the coalition of the major opposition parties, Senate President David Mark yesterday warned politicians against overheating the polity in pursuit of their political ambitions.

Mark, in an address to mark the end of the second session of the seventh Senate, said overheating the polity two years ahead of the next general election was unnecessary, diversionary and divisive.

Mark's advice came as the Bayelsa State Governor, Seriake Dickson, equally warned politicians to stop playing politics with national unity and security, saying this portends grave danger to the country's sovereignty.

But the senate president also warned the people, who according to him, beat the drums of war, to have a rethink, noting that no nation could survive two civil wars within a lifetime.

"Elections are two clear years away. Yet, the collision of vaulting personal ambition is overheating the polity and distracting the onerous task of governance. With so much work yet to be done, we as elected official, should focus on governance and justify our present mandates. Overheating the polity is unnecessary, diversionary, divisive, destructive, unhelpful and unpatriotic.

"Into this vitriolic mix is being thrown a spate of mindless and distempered effusions that add no value whatsoever to the quest for national cohesion and development. Those beating the drums of war should realise that no nation can survive two civil wars in one lifetime. These trends must stop and we must all remember that the nation is greater than the sum total of its parts," Mark said.

On the ongoing state of emergency in three North-east states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa, Mark, who said the decision was a deliberate measure to save the nation from insurgency, added that the decision should not be misconstrued to imply that soldiers were at war with the affected states and the Islamic religion.

Rather, he said the nation was at war with the Boko Haram and its terrorist network.

While giving account of the Senate's stewardship in the last two years, Mark disclosed that the parliament passed 31 bills, while 110 others passed through the first reading and another 36 scaled through the second reading.

On his part, Dickson, who spoke at the national executive meeting of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) held in Yenagoa, the state capital, lamented the criticism that trailed the declaration of state of emergency in the three northern states, describing such criticisms as "playing politics with issue of national security and co-existence."

The governor, who lamented the attitude of some politicians to national unity and security praised the stance of the NBA on both issues.

He said: "The Bar should be appreciated for the firm stance even at a time politicians seems to be equivocating and playing politics with the issue as sensitive as a threat to our sovereignty and our national co-existence in this country. All over the world, when there is a major assault on the sovereignty of a nation, political leaders come together in spite of difference."

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