Senate said yesterday it has uncovered the establishment of an active Boko Haram cell in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja. This was contained in the report of the Senate Joint Committee on National Security and Intelligence and Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters on investigation into the alleged extra-judicial killings in Apo, Abuja on September 20.
Four days after the incident, Chairman of the Land Transport Committee, Senator Sahabi Alhaji Ya’u, moved a motion on the floor of the Senate, demanding a probe after he identified those killed as his constituents from Zamfara North Senatorial District.
Senators Sani Saleh and Sahabi Ya’u outrightly rejected the report of the joint committee on the grounds that the panel did not address the assignment given it by the Senate. On the other hand, Senators Kabiru Marafa and Hadi Sirika noted that the joint committee did not expressly answer whether the Apo killings was extra-judicial or not.
In the findings/observations section of the report, the joint committee noted that on the day of the operation, some Boko Haram members were killed alongside
persons who had no link with the sect, while the leader, Suleiman Musa escaped arrest.
“The influx of Boko Haram elements into the FCT and its environs was noticed through various sources including electronic intercepts, the need to stop the sudden influx of terrorists in Abuja, the nation’s capital became urgent to avoid the calamity it portends.”
The report identified the owner of the uncompleted building where the killing took place “as Adekunle Salisu, (who) confirmed the illegal occupation of the building by some persons. Most of the victims were Keke NAPEP operators, Okada riders or hawkers
Dissent started immediately after joint committee chairman, Senator Mohammed Magoro presented the report to the Senate. A member of the committee, Senator Sani Saleh delivered what could be termed a ‘minority report’ when he rejected the procedure adopted by the joint committee in its investigation.
Senator Saleh, a former army general, not only rejected the report, he sensationally declared that he was seeing the report for the first time. Besides, he described the military operation as ‘irresponsible’.
Said Saleh: “I am seeing this report for the first time. I dissociate myself from this report completely. We owe Nigerians the truth at all times. This report, from the outset, digressed from what happened. This report digressed and went on to discuss the anti-terrorism report of the whole country which we weren’t asked to do.
“It was a military operation that was not consistent with… I served in the military for 40 years and I can say that the operation carried out by the SSS and soldiers was not a cordon and search operation.
“It was irresponsible and not known to any military tactics or operations. They knew that over 200 people were living in that place. They had a responsibility to ensure the safety of those living in that building and even in the neighbourhood. Firing at the civilians is completely unmilitary and irresponsible. After firing, they simply left the place without searching for casualties.”
Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, opened the floodgate for debate. Thereafter, Senate Leader, Victor Ndoma-Egba, a member of the joint committee, described Saleh’s comments as an ambush on the entire Senate as he did not avail the chamber the opportunity of cataloging his comments in a minority report.
Another member of the committee, Senator Suleiman Adokwe said: “The issues raised by one of our member is very grave, which bothered on the integrity of the members of the committee which should not be taken very lightly.
“Most of the questions the general raised were raised at the investigative meeting with security operatives and they were furious. For him to stand up and ambush the entire process is not fair. This is not the way senators of the Federal Republic should behave. I stand here to say that he was totally unfair to us. I stand by this report and urge this chamber that there was cause for the security agencies to go there.
The original mover of the motion, Senator Ya’u also dismissed the report and demanded that a new investigation be carried out to determine whether those killed were actually members of Boko Haram or not.
But Chairman of the Committee on Information, Media and Public Affairs, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe said: “I have not seen any difference in what Saleh said and the main report. The DSS gave them the intelligence intercepts which means there was actually a security threat.
Another member from Zamfara State, Senator Marafa insisted that the committee must be compelled to do further work to ascertain whether the killings were extra-judicial or not. “We need to be a little more circumspect in dealing with issues of Boko Haram. The committee should go back and do what the Senate asked them to do.” Senator Hadi Sirika backed Marafa on the same request.
At this point, Ekweremadu yielded the floor to Magoro to respond to allegations from Saleh that the committee veered off its mandate, Magoro shocked the chamber when he produced a report personally signed by Saleh, aligning with the position of the committee’s findings.