The killing of 11 suspected members of the Jama’atu Ahlis Sunnati Lidda’awati Wal Jihad, also known as Boko Haram, in Maiduguri, on Saturday 29, January 2012, has renewed tension and bickering among Boko Haram, JTF and the deceased families.
There is a serious disagreement among JTF operatives, Boko Haram and families of the deceased on how the 11 suspects were killed.
The deceased were Baba Kaka Dala, Ali Dala, Mamman Mustapha, Mamman Rosi and Hassan Mohammed, Mohammed Wakil Bala, Babangida Adamu, Baba Kaka, Goni and Adam Konto.
Also, the killings, believed by both the Boko Haram and the families of the deceased to have been carried out in cold blood, has among other things, renewed violence, thereby tempering with the relative peace witnessed in Maiduguri in the second and third weeks of January.
The relative peace was remarkably achieved after Boko Haram shifted their series of attacks to Kano State where more than 185 people were reportedly killed and many security installations bombed.
Maiduguri’s fragile peace was disrupted shortly after the Joint Task Force (JTF) in Borno State announced that they have killed 11 suspected members of Boko Haram in the wee hours of that fateful Saturday.
Spokesman of the JTF, Lieutenant Colonel Mohammed Hassan, who spoke to journalists by phone, said the gunmen were killed during a gun duel in Maiduguri metropolis.
“It is true that we killed 11 members of the Boko Haram during an exchange of gunshots in Maiduguri,” the JTF spokesman said.
Consequently, Boko Haram responded to the JTF version of the killings of their suspected members through its spokesman, Abul Qaqa, who was recently captured by the security agents. He explained to journalists through phone that the deceased were murdered in cold blood.
“What actually happened was that the JTF trailed our members to their houses and took them away. There was no exchange of gun fire between our members and security forces. We want to inform you that we have information that all our members that were picked have been killed without any confrontation,” Qaqa said.
“We want the general public to critically examine what is happening. The other day, the Nigerian President (Goodluck Jonathan) spoke of dialogue and few days later, look at what the JTF operatives did to our members?” He said.
One thing that is obvious is that both JTF and the Boko Haram spokesman admitted that the 11 slain people were actually sect members but differed on the circumstances surrounding the killings.
However, a twist was added to controversy on Tuesday 31 January, 2012, when parents and guardians of the deceased addressed a press conference at the NUJ centre in Maiduguri claiming that their wards were all innocent.
The parents said they want the killings to be “thoroughly investigated.” The spokesman of the parents of the 11 suspected Boko Haram members killed by the JTF, Dala Abatcha, alleged that their children “were extra judicially killed.”
Abatcha said all the 11 suspects were picked from the houses of their parents and extra judiciously killed.
“Some Military operatives, at about 12:50am on Saturday stormed my house and asked about my children. I told them they are inside the house. That was when they broke into the house, brought the children and told me that they would interrogate them,” Abatcha explained.
He added that “they also directed me to go into the house and that was the last time I saw my three children. The next thing I heard over the BBC Hausa Service was that the JTF had killed 11 Boko Haram members in a shootout at a road block in Maiduguri,” Abatcha said.
“My travails are similar to all the parents and guardians that accompany me to this place (NUJ secretariat),” he said.
“We are not animals. We are human beings! How can you pick somebody from his house and execute him without investigation?” Abacha asked.
Another parent, Alhaji Adamu Hassan Tella said four Military officers jumped over the fence of his house and picked up his children in the name of interrogation. “I only saw their corpses at the hospital,” he said.
Mohammed Askira, who said he is an elder brother of one of the people killed, told journalists that when they went to the mortuary of the University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital (UMTH), they were compelled to sign a register which indicted their children as members of the Boko Haram.
“We had to write an undertaking before the corpses were released for us for burial,” he said.
It was in the midst of this ensuing confusion that six bodies of men who were slaughtered like rams were discovered at Kawar Maila area of the metropolis on Thursday 2 February, 2012.
The killings also coincided with the arrest of Abul Qaqa in Kaduna, a development which prompted another senior member of the sect to hold a teleconference with journalists where he said he has some clarification to make.
According to him, “the person that was arrested is actually our senior member and head of the enlightenment department. His name is Abu Dardaa but had only used the name Abul-Qaqa in representative capacity. I am the actual Abul-Qaqa. I have not been opportuned to speak to you directly for sometimes because of some reasons,” he said
On the issue of the six people that were slaughtered, JTF spokesman, Mohammed, who confirmed the killings in a statement, said the deceased were also suspected members of the sect and the killings might be as a result of internal friction.
“Preliminary investigation reveals that the six deceased persons were suspected to have been slaughtered by persons suspected to be their fellow sect members. The killings might have been as a result of division amongst the sect members,” Mohammed said.
Another source said some suspected assailants trailed the victims to their houses in the dead of the night, knocked on their doors and slaughtered them with knives. Some residents said they only woke up in the morning to find their bodies in the street.
However, the newly emerged Abul Qaqa cleared the rumble and said the six people were members of the sect but had sold out to security agents.
The butchering has produced new dimension to the trend of the assault of the sect, which started by drive and shooting using motorcycles, followed by throwing bombs on targets and culminated in suicide bombings.
“We are responsible for the death of the six people at Kawar Maila. They are traitors. They were responsible for the killing of 11 of our members by the JTF,” he said.
“It is a standing rule for us to execute whoever betrayed us,” Qaqa added. He said the six people killed were among the 30 people earmarked for elimination by the sect for alleged conspiracy that led to the arrest of their members.
Qaqa said the 11 people killed by the JTF are “passive” members of the sect who do not carry arms.
“They are our members and their parents have the right to say anything. They may not necessarily know what their children are into. We have various departments in our movement. There are people that don’t even carry our arms. There are some in logistics department and many others are simply in the administration department,” he said.
Our correspondent reports that before the six corpses were discovered on Thursday, residents of Maiduguri said they heard the sounds of about six different explosions in some parts of Maiduguri.
The JTF spokesman of the JTF who confirmed that there are some explosions however said no casualty was recorded.
Dr Aminu Musa, a Sociologist based in Maiduguri observed that there was the need for the whole problem to be addressed.
“I think we have to look at the whole issue critically. Even if the Boko Haram leaders admitted that the 11 people that were killed belonged to the group, was it right for the soldiers to eliminate them without taking them to court?” He asked.
“We heard it on radio that one of the leaders of the Boko Haram members was arrested. We also heard that the Boko Haram members are ready for dialogue but have issued stringent conditions. I think both parties should shift ground towards what is positive.
“This is very necessary because many lives have been lost. Boko Haram cannot get all the things they want and government can never win the fight through confrontation. The two must find equilibrium so that residents will at least sleep with their eyes closed,” Musa said.