Paul Ibe, George Oji and Christopher Isiguzo in Abakaliki
Abuja — President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua has ordered a probe of the death of Boko Haram leader, Mohammed Yusuf, an incident that has raised questions of extra-judicial killing by security agents.
This comes as a security source confirmed to THISDAY that a similar group opposed to Western education has been traced to Niger State.
There were conflicting reports regarding the circumstances that led to the death of Yusuf. While the police claimed he died in a shoot-out, a BBC photo of the sect leader in handcuffs proved he was taken alive and might have been slain by security agents.
But the president disclosed at the State House yesterday that the National Security Adviser (NSA) had been directed to commence an investigation and submit the report before the end of the week.
Yar'adua spoke at a joint press conference with the visiting Republic of Benin President Boni Yayi. The president stated that his action was in keeping with his administration's policy of the rule of law.
"This is an incident that will be investigated together with all the events that have happened," said the president.
"Yesterday, I directed the NSA to carry out a post-mortem with the security agencies as a first step, so that we can have a full report of what happened during the crisis, including how the leader of Boko Haram was killed, the circumstances under which he was killed," he added.
The president said the report would be examined and appropriate actions taken. Describing the incident as a "serious issue," he stated that the report would determine if further investigation is needed.
Yar'Adua added: "I have been emphasizing since this administration came into power on our uncompromising stance on the rule of law. And everybody in this country, and all the officials, are aware, clearly and unambiguously of the stance of this administration on the rule of law and indeed my personal commitment and firm belief that it is rule of law that will anchor good governance and progress in this country."
The president who was in Brazil on official trip while the sectarian conflict was raging, explained that he met with all security agencies upon his return and that a course of action was chosen. He stressed the importance of having the facts rather than acting impulsively.
Meanwhile, the name of the group that has been traced to Niger State cannot be immediately identified. However, a reliable source disclosed that the joint security networks of the security agents are keeping tabs on members of this sect.
Fresh facts have also emerged on how Yusuf raised funds to run the operations of the group. It was gathered that apart from hefty sponsorship from wealthy individuals and sympathizers, among them a Kano-based indigene, Yusuf levied his 540,000 strong membership N1 each per day.
THISDAY gathered that from this levy, the slain sect leader might have raised about N16.2 million monthly and N5.9 billion annually.
Also, Yusuf was said to have acquired an 80-kilometre expanse of land in Maiduguri for farming, as part of the strategy to raise extra funds. But a security report to Governor Ali Modu Sheriff of Borno State for the confiscation of the property was ignored.
The security report had among other things raised concerns that the slain sect leader might convert part of the land to other use. THISDAY further gathered that the Kano-based businessman had gone to court to forestall his prosecution after investigations linked some of Boko Haram's funds to his bank accounts. He won the case.
The same businessman was alleged to have sponsored some youths to train in Mauritania. A security source close to the Boko Haram investigations told THISDAY that when it was imminent that the group would slug it out with security agents, the sect had contemplated two options: go on self-exile to Afghanistan or Saudi Arabia or embark on a Jihad.
The source said that when it became apparent to the leaders that the Saudi government would not be favourably disposed to granting them entry and that the immigration arrangements to Afghanistan were not working out, they resorted to a Jihad.
Besides, the South East Muslim Organization (SEMO) has condemned the Boko Haram mayhem.
Rising from its sixth National Executive meeting in Abakaliki, Ebonyi State, yesterday, SEMO said the crisis was not consistent with the teachings and principles of Islam. The group maintained that Islamic faith abhors violence. Therefore, the sect could not claim to be protecting the Muslim community either in the North or any part of the country, said SEMO.
In a seven-point communiqué issued after their meeting attended by the national coordinator, state coordinators in the five states of the South-east among other representatives of Islamic organizations in the zone, the organization advised the perpetrators to change their position while urging the Nigeria Islamic stakeholders to sensitize the public in order to curtail fundamentalism.