The Chief of Army Staff, Lt Gen Azubuike Ihejirika, has said the Army has information that some arms and ammunition were buried in the Apo Cemetery, Abuja, by some Boko Haram members.
He said the Army had been unable to locate where they were hidden because the person who hid the weapons was on the run.
Gen Ihejirika said the weapons were to be used in an attack on Abuja by the sect earlier this year.
The Army Chief spoke yesterday at a public hearing by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on the September 20 killing of eight residents at an uncompleted building in Apo.
Security personnel had invaded the house, said to be inhabited by about 100 people, on the claim that the inhabitants were Boko Haram members.
Gen Ihejirika, who was represented by the Commander, Brigade of Guards, Maj Gen Emmanuel Atewe, justified the invasion of the house.
He said the operation in Apo was informed by a report from the Department of State Security (DSS), alleging an attack by members of the Boko Haram.
“Between September 18 and 19, two persons were arrested in Abuja and they made useful confessions that there was a cache of arms hidden at Apo Cemetery to be used in a planned attack,” he said.
The Army chief said upon the confession of the suspects, his men went to the cemetery in search of the weapons.
“It was in the night, the area was bushy and we could not navigate the cemetery and the suspects could not identify the actual spot where the weapons were buried.
“It was at that point the suspects said their leader, one Suleiman, if arrested would show us the spot where the ammunition were hidden,” he said.
Gen Atewe, who failed to name the “two suspects,” said they told security agents that Suleiman was living in the Apo uncompleted building. He said they (the suspects) also disclosed that their intention was to launch attacks within Abuja.
“It was on that premise that the team moved to the uncompleted building to arrest Suleiman. But unfortunately, as troops were to cordon the building, the fire came, first it was a single shot before rapid followed. Under self defence, the troops returned fire,” he said.
“The military operating in FCT are well trained in handling arms and have exercised restraint in the discharge of their duties. We have no reason to kill anybody dastardly or act under provocation.
“The adversaries did firearm movement, they were firing as they escaped, a loaded magazine was found and from our records, it does not belong to the military,” he said.
Gen Atewe stated that the Apo incident was an isolated case and an unfortunate one.
He insisted that the security agents acted proactively to prevent collateral damage that may have resulted from an attack in Abuja.
He said despite their efforts, Suleiman was still at large and the cache of arms at the Apo cemetery still undiscovered.
“We have carried out 153 operations successfully, made arrests and did not shoot anybody.
The NHRC yesterday granted an application by the DSS to have its officials testify in its headquarters to protect their identities.
DSS’s lawyer Clifford Osagie and other officials of the service cited security reasons for the application to have the panel move its sitting venue from the NHRC’s Abuja office to DSS’ headquarters.
The panel will resume sitting next month.
Source: The Nation