Tuesday 14 May 2013
How we did it, Kabiru Sokoto tells court
•The Algerian connection
…Says: ‘I never met with presidential committee’
From GODWIN TSA, Abuja
Kabiru Sokoto, who is standing trial for the 2011 Christmas Day bombing of St. Theresa’s Catholic Church, Madalla, Niger State, yesterday opened up in court, explaining how they carried out the attack. Sokoto was arraigned for terrorism at the Federal High Court, Maitama in Abuja.
The Boko Haram leader and mastermind of the church’s bombing, who since his arraignment, had denied involvement or knowledge of the deadly attack, suddenly opened up yesterday on how they plotted and killed over 40 worshippers on December 25, 2011 at about 8.00am. Sokoto dismissed claims that the attack on the church was carried out by a suicide bomber.
Another bombshell by Sokoto is the financial link Boko Haram had with Algeria and how a group which is the sect’s financial backbone had been instrumental to their means of fund raising to carry out deadly attacks. The sharing of funds by the members of the Islamist sect, he said, led to the major crack in Boko Haram.
On the church bombing, Sokoto told the court that the incident was a coordinated attack that was executed by two persons- Bashir Mohammed and Mukthar Kafanchan under the supervision of Sulieman Habib, who is the commander of Boko Haram in Niger State.
Giving further insight into how the attack was carried out, he said: “It was not a suicide bomber as many believed. It was a coordinated attack. The car that was used for the operation was parked near the church, laden with explosives and later detonated by the people assigned for the job,” he told the court.
On the Algerian sponsors, he said an Algerian group, Muslimiyama, which means ‘the group from the sunset,’ frequently sent money to them. He noted that it was the sharing of N40million sent by the group that split the sect into two factions.
“There is a group in Algeria, Muslimiyama, meaning ‘the group from the sunset’, which normally sends money to us. And it was because of the sharing of N40million they sent to us that our sect split into two.
I was given N500,000 out of the money which I used to buy Koran and other books.” However, contrary to reports, Sokoto said the Presidential Committee on Dialogue and Peaceful Resolution of Security Challenges had never met with him.
It was widely reported last week that members of the committee met with Boko Haram leaders including Kabiru Sokoto at the Kuje Prison. However, dismissing the reports as false, the sect leader wondered how such a meeting could have been possible when he was still standing trial as at the time the meeting reportedly took place.
He made the denial yesterday through his lawyer; Sherriff Okoh, shortly after the court further adjourned proceedings in his case to May 16 to 17 and 20.
But it was Justice Adeniyi Ademola who first raised the issue of the meeting when he inquired from Sokoto’s lawyer about the location from where he was brought to court. The dialogue between judge and lawyer went thus: Justice Ademola: “Where is the accused person coming from? Sokoto’s lawyer: My Lord, he is coming from the custody of the Department of State Security (DSS).
Justice Ademola: “I read in the newspapers that some people met with the accused person in Kuje Prison and was wondering because on that day, the accused was here in court from 9am to 6pm and at the end of the session, I ordered that he should be remanded in DSS custody and not Kuje Prison, the pressmen were in court too.”
It was reported that the Chairman of the committee and Minister for Special Duties, Mr. Kabiru Tanimu Turaki, who led the 25 members of the committee to the meeting at Kuje, told reporters that the parley was a confidence building measure between the committee and the sect. According to reports, the meeting, which was held in camera, had been preceded by the committee’s parley with different security agencies, including the DSS, Nigeria Police Force as well as the Office of the National Security Adviser.
The report further quoted the committee chairman thus, “we have had cause in the past to speak to members of Jamatul Alhus Sunnah and in doing so, we told them that members of this committee are people of proven integrity, accomplished Nigerians that have been carefully selected by Mr. President to come and do this national assignment.