Senator Ahmed Khalifa Zanna
A senior member of the Islamist sect Boko Haram has been arrested at the home of a senator in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital, the military said Saturday, adding to evidence that the group has ties to government officials.
The Joint Military Task Force (JTF) spokesman Sagir Musa , who confirmed the development , said the arrest was made on Thursday. “Shuaibu Mohammed Bama, who has been on the wanted list of terrorists ... was arrested by the task force troops in a serving senator’s house,” Musa said, though he did not say who the senator was.
But the senator representing Borno Central Senatorial District in the upper legislative chamber, Senator Ahmed Khalifa Zanna, has denied harbouring Bama in his Maiduguri GRA home, insisting that the Boko Haram leader was not arrested in his home.
Though the senator admitted that Bama is his nephew while speaking with newsmen yesterday, he maintained that there was nothing more than that as he challenged security agents, whom he accused of harassing and beating children in his house , to investigate properly Bama’s relationship with the people in whose home he was arrested.
According to Zanna, “They said they arrested the man in the house of a lawmaker in Damboa Road, and there is no any lawmaker in Damboa Road except me. They did not arrest him in my house, they went to my house but did not find him, and instead they arrested children in my house and put them inside hot sun and started beating them.
“And they asked them whether they know Shuaibu Bama, and one of the boys answered yes. He then took them to where they arrest Shuaibu Bama.”
Explaining his relationship with the arrested Boko Haram commander as he maintained his innocence, the senator said: “Shuaibu Bama is a son of my sister. But the lie is what they are saying that they arrested him in my house, which is lie. And we cannot hide or harbour a Boko Haram sect member. And since he was not arrested in my house, they should go and investigate his relationship with people they arrested him in their house. I don’t know anything about it and just heard yesterday.”
It would be recalled that in January, President Jonathan said members of the Boko Haram sect had infiltrated his government as Human Rights Watch (HRW) said at least 2,800 people have died in fighting since the sect began its rebellion to institute an Islamic state in Nigeria.