A businessman alleged to have actively participated with Boko Haram in abducting almost 300 schoolgirls in Chibok’s northeastern town last year was arrested by Nigerian troops, news said.
Major General Chris Olukolade, a Nigerian army and spokesperson for Nigeria’s Defense Ministry said businessman Babuji Ya’ari charged a “terrorists’ intelligence cell” for the Islamic extremists while pretending to be a member of Youth Vigilante Group. The revelation confirmed suspicions that Boko Haram has infiltrated the vigilantes. The Associated Press also reports that some of Nigerian soldiers belong to homegrown Islamic extremist group.
“The arrest of the businessman… has also yielded some vital information and facilitated the arrest of other members of the terrorists’ intelligence cell who are women,” the CNS News quoted Olukolade’s statement released on Tuesday night.
Without disclosing details on the number of persons arrested and the time and dates, Olukolade added that since 2011, Ya’ari has synchronized several fatal attacks in the northeastern city of Maiduguri, the origin of Boko Haram. In 2014, he was also allegedly involved in assassinating the Emir of Gwoza, who was known to be an antagonist of Boko Haram.
Also according to the statement, Hafsat Bako, also arrested, admitted coordinating the operatives’ payroll amounting to 10,000 naira (more or less $50) per mission.
Abducted Schoolgirls Forced To Join Islamist Group
In a report from BBC, a fraction of the schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram were forced to join the Islamist rebel group Boko Haram.
BBC’s Panorama program featured three women allegedly kidnapped by Boko Haram who said they were also housed and brainwashed by their captors. Some of them execute punishments on behalf of the rebels.
Witnesses say many of the schoolchildren are now actively terrorizing other captives and carry out the killings themselves.
Though the statement cannot be verified, the Amnesty International says there are other abducted children by Boko Haram that were forced to fight. Since last year, Boko Haram has already killed 5,500 civilians in Nigeria. In Chibok, around 219 schoolgirls — many of whom are Christians — remain missing.
Founded in 2001, Boko Haram is led by Abubakar Shekau. The Islamist extremist group is known to have connections with al-Qaeda. In 2014, it declared support for the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and just this March, it formally pledged allegiance to ISIL.