Posted by News Express | 23 June 2014 | 5,325 times
A Kano State government delegation was yesterday denied access to 486 northerners who were arrested and locked up in Abia State over a week ago by the army on the suspicion of having links with Boko Haram terror organisation.
The suspects, mainly traders and migrant workers, were arrested over two days as they travelled to Port Harcourt and other parts of Rivers State. The army later said that a terrorist kingpin declared wanted since 2009 was found among the suspects. The identity of the alleged kingpin has yet to be disclosed.
All efforts by various government and other organisations to get access to the suspects have been denied by the military.
Kano State government Wednesday after the weekly executive council meeting chaired by the state governor Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso constituted a high-powered committee to visit Abia state.
The delegation was mandated to look into the condition of the detainees, know their state of origin and secure their release if they are not found wanting.
It was gathered that the committee chaired by the state Commissioner for Special Duties, retired Brigadier General Idris Bello Dambazau, arrived Abia state on Friday but were denied access to the detainees. The detainees are being held at the 144 battalion barracks located at Asa area of Aba in Abia state.
Speaking in a phone interview, General Dambazau said they went to the barracks but that they were unable to see the detainees. According to him, the Abia State governor, Theodore Orji, received them during their visit to the state.
He said the suspects are still being screened by officials of the State Security Service (SSS).
General Dambazau said: “When we went to the 144 battalion barracks we were received by the commanding officer but we could not have access to the detainees because they said they are still being screened by the SSS.
“We will return to Kano tomorrow (today) to brief the state government on our findings but they have assured us that any one that is not found with any incriminating evidence would be released.”
Daily Trust reports that four northern leaders who earlier went to the military base to negotiate for the release of the suspects were equally detained.
Spokesman for the community of Northerners in the South-South and South-East, Alhaji Musa Saidu, said that Alhaji Abubakar Buba, a prominent leader in Port Harcourt, and three others were arrested on Friday when they went to inquire about the detained traders.
•Adapted from a Daily Trust report. Photo shows some of the Boko Haram suspects as paraded last week in Abia State.
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