7th December, 2011
Trial of the killers of the slain leader of Boko Haram sect, Mohammed Yusuf, resumed on Wednesday before a Federal High Court siting in Abuja, with the court being Â told that the late leader, had over 4000 trained followers as at the time he was killed in 2009.
Col. Benjamin Ahanotu, the leader of a military team that arrested the late Yusuf before handing him over to the police, in whose custody he was reportedly killed, made the disclosure while under cross examination by the defence counsel, Mr. Canice Nke.
Explaining the government’s decision to deploy military force in order to apprehend the Boko Haram leader, the witness said, “Mohammed Yusuf had over 4000 men under his control and command.”
He told the court that the sect planned to attack Borno State from the country’s borders with neighboring states, but had to launch the attack earlier than planned, on July 26, 2009.
He also stated that the fundamentalist sect also threatened other Islamic groups as well as the people of Borno State and attacked government establishments in Maiduguri.
Ahanotu noted that there was no breakdown of law and order in Maiduguri and other parts of Borno State as a result of the activities of Yusuf and his group before the attacks and that the military was deployed to address the situation when the police could not arrest the crisis.
In response to question on why a military troop was used to effect Yusus’s arrest, Ahanotu told the court that the late leader of the sect was arrested because he had an operation going on and he was the leader of the group during the uprising against the government.
“I arrested him with eight men – they could be termed as a troop in the military parlance, which can be used to describe the smallest unit in the army up to the level of a brigade.”
Asked whether Yusuf resisted arrest, the witness affirmed that there was resistance, but not a stiff resistance.
He further informed the court that the attacks ceased after Yusuf’s arrest.
“After the arrest of Yusuf there were Â no further attacks, we had already taken control of the situation and we were now in pursuit of his men who were running in disarray towards the borders”.
He told the court that he did not follow the police officers to their barracks after handing Yusuf over to them at headquarters of the 21 Brigade of the Nigerian Army, in Maiduguri.
The alleged killers of the violent sect late leaders are ACP J.B. Abang, ACP Akeera, CSP Mohammed Ahmadu, ACP Mada Buba, Sgt Adamu Gado, PC Anthony Samuel and PC Linus Luka, all of the police command Maiduguri.
By Nnamdi Felix/Abuja