Friday, September 23, 2011

Police and Boko Haram: What is the deal in Aliyu Tishau's release?

In what seems like an ironic twist, the Nigeria Police Force on Friday said the Boko Haram co-founder, Aliyu Tishau, was released to an unnamed sister security agency.

Tishau had granted an interview to the African Independent Television on Tuesday, in which he claimed that he had met with the Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Hafiz Ringim, and passed information to him on the activities of his sect, and the places they were going to carry out terror attacks.

However, the police said on Friday in Abuja that Tishau was handed over to a sister security agency on July 7, 2011 following a request.

The Force Public Relations Officer, Deputy Commissioner of Police, Olusola Amore, who stated this, however declined to name the affected agency despite pressure from reporters.

Amore maintained that as far as the force was concerned, the Boko Haram co-founder was still in the custody of the unnamed security outfit, saying that he (Tishau) was not released on bail.

"The suspect, Mr. Ali Tishau, had been requested for on June 27, 2011 and was released on July 7, 2011 to a sister organisation for investigation in the spirit of information and intelligence sharing," Amore said. "To date, he has not been returned to the police."

However, a police source fingered the Army (Defence Intelligence Agency), adding that the release was done through a letter dated June 27, 2011.

But in a swift reaction, the Army authorities said the Boko Haram co-founder was never with them.

The Director, Army Public Relations, Brig.-Gen. Raphael Isah, vigorously denied that the Army ever requested for Tishau from the police.

Isah said, "I can say authoritatively that Tishau was never with the Nigerian Army. We may be compelled to demand from whoever is saying that Tishau was with the Nigerian Army to provide proof."

The Director, Defence Information, Col. Mohammed Yerima, declined to confirm whether Tishau was released to them, adding that he would only comment on the issue if the police officially named them as the agency that took custody of the Boko Haram leader.

"I can't comment until Monday after being briefed," Yerima said. "Even then, the police have to formally mention us (Defence) as the agency that took custody of Tishau before we can make a categorical statement on the issue."

Similarly, findings at the State Security Service showed that Tishau was also never with them.

An SSS official who pleaded anonymity because he was not authorised to speak officially on the issue, said, "Between you and I, the guy (Tishau) was never with us."

The police explained that Tishau was in their custody until July 7, 2011 when he was released to a sister organisation for further investigations in the spirit of information and intelligence sharing among the services.

The force added that the sect leader had not been returned to them till date, stressing the force expected the suspect to be returned to its custody after the investigations.

Amore, who addressed reporters on behalf of Ringim, said Tishau was released along with two other Boko Haram members, whose identities were not also stated.

Amore described Tishau's television interview as orchestrated falsehood, adding that the police did not want to react to insinuations "in the interest of the nation and the President."

"There is no iota of truth in the claim that the self-acclaimed Boko Haram member has given useful information to the police on the spate of bombings that occurred recently," Amore said.

The FPRO said in continuation of the efforts to combat the illegal movement of arms, ammunition, and the illegal movement of immigrants on Nigeria's borders with Niger and other countries, the IG held a meeting with the Customs, Immigration, SSS, and officials of the security agencies from Niger Republic.

This, according to him, was done to fashion out a workable strategy that would address trans-border crimes, criminal elements and unlawful possession of prohibited firearms within the region.

Amore explained that the measure took cognizance of the current wave of terrorism, as well as political upheavals within and outside the neighbouring states.

Tishau made wide-ranging claims in the AIT interview. He said that he was present with the IG when Boko Haram elements bombed the Force Headquarters on June 16, 2011, claiming that he gave a phone to Ringim to speak to the planner of the attack.

Tishau accused some northern governors of giving birth to Boko Haram, claiming that a governorship aspirant in Gombe State once asked him to assassinate his opponent.

Claiming that he co-founded Boko Haram with Mohammed Yusuf, who was killed by the security agencies in September 2009, Tishau said he was detained by Nigeria's security operatives for 10 months, but that he was making contacts with his fellow members from the detention cell


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