The government ultimatum given to Nigeria’s inspector general of police expires today. President Goodluck Jonathan gave Hafiz Ringhim until Friday to re-arrest the alleged mastermind of the bombing of a Catholic church on Christmas Day, or lose his job.
Kabiru Sokoto was being escorted to another police station outside Abuja on January 18 when his gang members attacked and freed him. The police commissioner who ordered the transfer has been suspended, and police say they are investigating the incident.
The president’s ultimatum, analysts say, forced Ringhim to issue a 50 million naira ($309,789) bounty for the arrest of Sokoto, the suspect of the December attack.
Police spokesman Olusola Amore says his organization is working closely with other security agencies to re-arrest the suspect.
“The inspector general of police has directed that the suspect Kabiru Omar alias Kabiru Sokoto be declared wanted and a reward of 50 million Naira has been placed on his head,” said Amore. “Anybody who gives useful information that will lead to the arrest of Kabiru Sokoto will be given the 50 million Naira.”
In its official report, the Nigerian police said Sokoto was being escorted to another police station outside Abuja when his gang members attacked and freed him. The police commissioner who ordered the transfer has been suspended, and police say they are investigating the incident.
Some security analysts say the escaped bombing suspect might have fled Nigeria to any of the neighboring countries en route to Europe.
But Amore said the police have redoubled efforts to re-arrest him.
He also said Nigeria is working with other police institutions in West Africa as well as Interpol to find the suspect.
“We have on information to all members of the West African police organizations, and all members of the Nigeria police and other security agencies, have been alerted all around the country. And they are watching closely the borders while efforts are on to try to get Kabiru,” said Amore.
Some Nigerians have expressed disappointment following Sokoto’s escape. They said the country’s security agencies have abdicated their responsibilities to protect life and property. But, Amore said the police have yet to be credited for its successes.
“If you arrest a criminal or terrorist one every day for 364 days and there is a mistake and one should escape on the 365th day, the tendency is that people will forget the 364 terrorists or armed robbers we have arrested but [focus] on the one that escaped,” said Amore. “We are doing our best and those who are benefiting from our services know that at least the Nigeria police have been doing its utmost best to meet security challenges.”