How security agencies failed to act on information that could have ended insurgency — Faruq Muhammed

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Alhaji Faruq Musa Muhammad, 33, is a human rights activist and a security consultant spanning ten years. He claimed that he was able to get very reliable and credible information about how to rescue Chibok girls from their captors and that he also provided information that led to the death of the notorious Boko Haram leader, Abubakar Shekau. He however expressed regret that instead of getting rewards for his efforts, he was humiliated, manhandled and incarcerated by the military. He gave a vivid account of his exploits, tribulations and losses in an exclusive interview with our Group Crime Editor, Emma Nnadozie.

Excerpts:

Tell us about your exploits, what sort of information you have been able to give to relevant authorities?

Mostly, the information that I give is on how to provide solution to this current insecurity that we are going through in the country. I have presented much reliable and verifiable information to the Nigeria Army. When I learnt about the advertisement by the Nigeria Army in 2012/ 2013 that they would give N50m to anybody with information on the activities of the dreaded Boko Haram members and the location of their notorious leader, Abubarkar Shekau, I gathered my information and submitted it to the then Chief of Defense staff and the Chief of Army staff then, Azubuike Ihejirika.

What kind of information did you pass to them?

The information, dated 26th June 2013 was on the whereabouts of Abubakar Shekau, leader of Boko Haram. It was the Nigeria army that placed N50 million bounty on his head in 2012 which was advertised by the then JTF spokesperson Sikiru Musa. After seeing the advertisement which they placed in the Daily Trust newspaper dated November 24, 2012, I went into action by getting across to my sources. After that, I prepared my report and submitted it to the then Chief of Army staff Lieutenant Colonel Azubuike Ihejirika and the Chief of Defense staff. I gave vivid description of where to locate Abubakar Shekau on 25th June 2013 and submitted the information to them through the same Sikiru Musa who is now a Major General. He announced five days later, that is, on 30th June, 2013 that they have killed Abubakar Shekau. I learnt about it and on September 2nd 2013, I approached the Defense Headquarters, office of the then Chief of Defence staff and showed them a copy of my information. I told them that they succeeded because of the information which I gave and they should pay me the money they earlier promised anybody that could gave information about his whereabouts. They sent me back to the office of the Intelligence Department, Defense headquarters where I met one naval officer and an army officer. They interviewed me, after which they took me to the office of the Chief of Defense staff. They later took me to the Director of Information who interviewed me and asked me to wait in the Intelligence Department office. While I was waiting, one of the officers I earlier met brought N10, 000, and said ‘this is from the Chief of Defense staff for your transportation’ and that if I wanted the N50 million, I should write to them.

The officer that handed over the money to me collected original copies of my documents saying they wanted to learn some ideas from me on how to tackle Boko Haram insurgency. I handed over the documents to him. Till I left the Defense Headquarters, he did not return the documents to me. On 16th September, 2013, I submitted an official request addressed to the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice then, Mohammed Adoke which I copied to the Chief of Defense staff, Chief of Naval Staff, Chief of Army staff and Chief of Air staff, requesting them to pay me N50 million otherwise I would take legal action against the Nigeria military. After I submitted the petition, as I was leaving the office of the Chief of Defense Staff, I met the same officer that handed that N10,000 to me. When I reminded him that he did not return the documents he collected from me the last time I visited, he asked me to come back on Thursday 19th September 2013 which I did. But I was consequently arrested by some armed soldiers who took me to the Defence Intelligence Agency and later to Mogadishu Cantonment in Abacha barracks before I was released the next morning with a promise that they would settle my complaint but they never did.

So after you were released, what other measures did you take to get your money?

Nothing was done over the issue until Buhari came to power. I wrote a petition over the matter to him in June 2015. I was lucky as President Buhari acted on my letter of complaint and instructed the then Chief of Army Staff, Yusuf Buratai to act on my complaint, who then assigned one army officer to call me and interview me. They contacted me through my former Attorney, Mr Ekene Martin. But they deceived him, after they came to his office, they said they were looking for me that he should call me. When the lawyer called me, he didn’t indicate that it was an army officer that wanted to interview me. All he said was that he wanted to see me, that he had an important issue to discuss with me and that I should come to his office. That was on 9th May 2016. But I told him that I would not be able to come to his office until the 10th of May 2016. When I arrived his office on the said date, I saw the lawyer making a call and called someone and said ‘Farouk is here’ and before I know what was happening, one army officer suddenly appeared in his office in uniform. After he came in, he asked; ‘are you Farouk Musa Mohammed’? I said ‘yes, I am the one’. He just started harassing me. He said ‘don’t ever say that the Nigerian Army is owing you N50 million’. Then he started threatening me.

This information you claimed you gave the authorities that led to the killing of Shekau, how were you able to get it, are you a Boko Haram member or do you live within their community?

I met a man in Abuja who claimed to be a former member of Boko Haram. He said he was with Mohammed Shekau but he abandoned Boko Haram doctrine. He was a former leader of Boko Haram so he had their contacts. He knew the whereabouts of Shekau and he revealed it to me expecting that after I might have collected the N50m ransom promised by government and given him his own share, he would give me more credible information about the Chibok girls which would lead to their rescue. He was afraid of showing up not just because of government but his colleagues in Boko Haram so it was a top secret between us. But all this did not work out because of the way the military treated me and even seized some vital documents I earlier collected from him. It is the duty of security agencies to get in touch with me because I attached my contact, my phone number, email address to the document. At the time I submitted the report to the security agencies they should have called to ask me where I got the information from and I would have led them to where I got it and they would work on it.

How did the failure of the security agency to work with you affect the real informant who from every indication was ready to work with you and give all needed information?

No doubt, it affected his morale and eagerness to provide more information. Anyone who heard my story must be afraid of approaching the Nigerian military or security agencies to give them information of how to tackle any kind of insecurity. This is because of people like me who risked their lives and are supposed to be treated with care and concern but I have been abused and humiliated for several years.

culled from Daily Trust

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