Operatives of the State Security Services (SSS) have commenced a manhunt for the main mastermind of the October 28 attack on St. Rita Catholic Church, Malali, Kaduna following clear indications linking him to the attack.
Sources in the security confirmed to the Nigerian Tribune that the operatives had trailed the suspect to a location in Abuja where he escaped to.
It was gathered in Abuja that security operatives had zeroed in on the kingpin of the attack and he was actually trailed to his hideout in Kaduna.
A source who is knowledgeable on the issue, however, said that there is confusion over the real motives of the attack.
The source said that there was no clear confirmation that the leaders of Boko Haram sanctioned the attack, as they were said to have recently warned their members not to attack worshippers in any church.
Sources said that the operatives were bent on trailing the main mastermind and getting him so as to unravel the main motives behind the attack.
“There is a bit of confusion on the attack. There is the information with the security agencies that the real leaders of Boko Haram have warned that nobody should carry out attacks on churches and that they have no issue with innocent Nigerians who go to places of worship. But there is the belief that a breakaway faction might have masterminded the attack. The leaders feel that some persons could be using the name of the organisation,” a source had stated.
It was gathered that the man believed to be the kingpin of the attack had two aides whom, he hurriedly abandoned when the operatives closed in on him.
“He is actually on the run and as he is moving, operatives are trailing him. In a matter of time, he will be caught,” another source said.
A suicide bomber had attacked St. Rita’s Catholic Church, Malali, Kaduna on Sunday, leaving eight persons dead and 100 others injured.
The attackers struck at the peak of the service, targeting the 1,200 worshippers at the service.
The church was said to have been picked as a target for attack following the discovery by the masterminds that it was a “soft target,” which means that military presence is reduced in the vicinity.
Meanwhile, the Archbishop of Kaduna Catholic Diocese, Bishop Mathew Manoso Ndagoso, has agreed that four worshippers, who died in the bomb explosion, should be buried within the church premises.
However, a total of 111 victims of the Sunday bomb blast earlier admitted, had been discharged from three hospitals.
According to Ndagoso, the families of the dead had made advanced preparations to give private burial to the victims but the church insisted that it would take responsibility for the burial.
“The interment of the four victims within the church premises is meant to be a mark of honour to them and a great watershed for Saint Rita and the entire Catholic family,” he said.
He, however, advised Christians not to embark on reprisal mission as revenge was of the Lord.
In another development, minister of Justice, Mohammed Adoke, on Wednesday in Abuja, urged the National Assembly to speed up the amendment of the Anti-Terrorism Law pending before it.
Adoke, who is also the Attorney-General of the Federation, said this in an address he delivered at the valedictory court session in honour of retired Supreme Court Justice, Olufunlola Adekeye.
He said the speedy conclusion of work on the law would reposition the judiciary in the fight against terrorism.
He further noted that the weakness of the former law necessitated the ongoing amendment, saying, “justice can only be done to terrorists and their financiers if penalties are commensurate with the offences.”
On the contributions of Adekeye to the country’s jurisprudence, Adoke said the retired justice had shown that the Supreme Court bar was not meant for male justices alone.
He stated that the country had benefited from Adekeye’s decisions “and she will truly be missed.”
Mrs Aloma Mukhtar, the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), in her speech, said that Adekeye was an epitome of justice, whose decisions could hardly be faulted.
In his speech, Chief Okey Wali, President of the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA), said “Adekeye had a remarkable career as one of the brightest stars in the nation’s judicial firmament.
“Her humility and modesty could not keep her from rising to the highest court in the land.
“Her demeanour and poise, Solomonic wisdom and intellectual acumen, propelled her to this honourable temple where we now stand to honour her,” he said.
In her comments, Adekeye expressed gratitude to the honour shown her, adding that: “My efforts amount to naught without God.”