Perhaps at last, we are getting somewhere with the Boko Haram saga. We now have real faces to the phantom. Ali Sanda Umar Konduga, nicknamed Usman Al-Zawahiri, has been arrested. He claims to be one of the spokesmen of the dreaded Islamic sect. And he has revealed some of those who have been giving the sect financial succour. On the list is Saidu Pindar, Nigeria’s former ambassador to Equatorial Guinea and São Tomé and Príncipe, who is now late. Konduga claimed Pindar was on his way to deliver to the sect N5 million out of the N10 million he promised them when he died in a car crash.
Pray, what happened to the N5 million? Was the sum ever returned to Pindar’s family? Or did the money develop wings before “sane” people got to the crash site? It would be interesting if those who got involved in retrieving Pindar’s body from the wreckage could provide some insight into this puzzle. Another alleged high-profile member of the sect who is also late was Boji Foi. The latter even served as a commissioner for religious affairs in Governor Ali Modu Sheriff’s cabinet in Borno State, where the sect was born. He later got the boot and it was not long thereafter that he died while in police custody, around the same time Mohammed Yusuf, believed to be the founder of Boko Haram, met his waterloo. The speculation then was that both Foi and Yusuf were silenced to protect the identities of some prominent backers. Dead men, you know, do not tell tales.
However, nothing under the sun forever remains a secret. Konduga has now revealed the relationship between Boko Haram and the “ECOMOG.” The latter is a group of political thugs used by the powers that be in Borno State to terrorise the opposition. When General Jeremiah Useni (rtd) first pointed out this link in the wake of the Boko Haram rampage earlier in the year, Sheriff practically called him a liar. The world can now see who the real liar is.
But what will surprise Nigerians most is the alleged involvement of Senator Ali Ndume. The revelations show that he is neck-deep in the sect’s activities, even assisting them with strategies and giving them assignments. The irony is that Ndume was a member of the Galtimari Committee on Security in the North-east. Even members of the sect were surprised at his membership. According to Konduga, he promised to provide them with the telephone numbers of the committee’s members, thus serving as a mole. He never did before Konduga was arrested. If he had provided the numbers, the sect would have scared the daylights out of the members just like it did to members of the Borno Election Petition Tribunal. The latter had to relocate to Abuja for fear of being attacked in Maiduguri.
Now that Konduga and Ndume have been duly charged to court, we can assume that the anti-terrorism war is finally getting somewhere. But the nation’s security agencies cannot rest on their oars. The war is far from won. They need to fish out more of the sect’s influential backers. It is when these are safely behind bars where they belong that the umbilical cord of the sect could be assumed to have been severed. And by now the security agencies know that members of the sect are not a two-kobo crime gang. They are sophisticated and may yet attempt to spring a surprise by frustrating the trial of Ndume and Konduga.