Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Agase residents flee homes, as officials hunt Boko Haram kingpin

Agase - The residents of Agase, a suburb of Gboko in Benue, have fled their homes for fear of reprisal attacks from Boko Haram insurgents. Checks by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Gboko revealed that most of the residents had fled their homes, following the trailing of a kingpin of the Islamic group to a house in the area. 

NAN reports that the Boko Haram leader, Ali Jalingo, was traced by security operatives from Abuja to his hideout in Agase but they were unable to arrest him. Some residents told NAN that they were awakened around midnight on Sunday by gunshots and sound of a bulldozer pulling down the building where Jalingo lived. 

They recalled that they panicked and hid themselves under bed covers for fear of being hit by stray bullets, as sporadic shots from the security operatives reverberated in the area. An octogenarian, Mrs Aese Adua, who lamented that her apartment was destroyed by stray bullets, nonetheless, thanked God for her safety. 

"I was woken up around midnight on Sunday by some unusual noise in the neighbourhood; I could not come out because of my age but my instincts told me something was amiss. I had to relocate my bed from its position to another corner of the room and I was surprised to see part of my room riddled with bullets,’’ she said. 

Adua conceded that she had never seen Jalingo "even for one day but I always heard movements in the house and I also know that the occupants are young people. Since I cannot speak English or Hausa, I had no interaction with them at all,’’ she added. 

Another resident, Mr Kumaga Kande, who refused to flee the area, said that the bulldozer, which demolished the house where the suspect lived, pulled down part of his kitchen and also destroyed his kola nut tree. However, some young men in the neighbourhood said that Jalingo, who reportedly lived in affluence, was quite unassuming. 

However, a retired Commissioner of Police, Mr Abubakar Tsav, called for a thorough investigation into the circumstances that led to the escape of the suspect. In a text message to NAN, Tsav said: "It is strange that the Boko Haram suspect was arrested but escaped, what were the security agencies doing when the suspect escaped?” 

The former police boss stressed that what happened to former Police Commissioner Zakari Biu should also be applied to the security officers who were in charge of Jalingo, saying: ``What is good for the goose is good for the gander.’’ 

NAN recalls that Zakari Biu was detained for months for alleged complicity in the escape of another Boko Haram kingpin, Kabiru Sokoto. Meanwhile, military personnel have been deployed to strategic locations across Gboko. 

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