by Stanley Azuakola
These days the victories for the government and the blows against the Boko Haram terror sect are coming in quick succession. After months and months of stuttering, the efforts of the government in the fight against the sect might be yielding some tangible positives at last.
On January 2, President Goodluck Jonathan made an announcement which a lot of Nigerians were not expecting to hear. He said, although the government has not made much noise about it, it had succeeded in arresting those behind some suicide attacks like the Madala and UN House bombing.
Then on Saturday last week, the Joint Task Force announced that a key member of Boko Haram, Hassan Pagi Bukar, was arrested in Abuja, in the home of an ex-member of the federal house of representatives, Hon. Tijani Kumalia.
24 hours after that announcement, the Joint Task Force, JTF, “Operation Restore Order,” said, Sunday that it has also arrested Mohammed Zangina. Zangina is suspected to be a top Boko Haram Commander and Shura Committee member. It was he, according to the JTF, who co-ordinated the bombings of Thisday and The Sun newspapers last year at the Government Reserved Area,GRA, Maiduguri.
JTF spokesman, Lt Col. Sagir Musa, said in a statement in Maiduguri, the Borno capital, that Zangina was caught in Maiduguri where he planned to coordinate several deadly attacks against civilians and security personnel any moment from yesterday.
It was perhaps to forestall that perceived threat, that the JTF cordoned off all major roads leading to churches and other strategic locations for several hours on Sunday. The heavy security operation resulted in massive traffic in the state capital for most of the day.
Lt. Col. Musa said that the suspect, Mohammed Zangina a.k.a Mallam Abdullahi or Alhaji Musa, was the leader of North Central and Coordinator of most of the suicide attacks and bombings in Abuja, Kaduna, Kano, Jos and Potiskum.
Zangina was among the members of Boko Haram’s Shura Committee who was declared wanted by the JTF on November 23, 2012, with a bounty of N25 million placed on his head.
Zangina reportedly survived several security manhunts on his hideouts in Abuja, Kaduna, Kano, Jos and Potiskum town of Damaturu.
This year, there has been no recorded suicide blast in the country, a development which might be regarded as proof that the government’s efforts in the war against terror are working. However it is important to note that in 2012, one of the deadliest years in recent history which saw waves upon waves of suicide attacks, the first suicide attack was on January 20th.
So kudos to the federal government and the JTF, but for now, the nation can only afford cautious optimism.