A senior member of the Boko Haram armed group has been arrested at the home of a senator in the group’s stronghold in northeastern Nigeria, the military said, adding to evidence that the group has ties to government officials.
Sagir Musa, a military spokesperson, said on Saturday that the arrest was made on Thursday in the Boko Haram stronghold of Maiduguri in the country’s northeast.
“Shuaibu Mohammed Bama, who has been on the wanted list lists of terrorists … was arrested by the task force troops in a serving senator’s house,” he said.
Musa did not say who the senator was. In January, President Goodluck Jonathan said Boko Haram had infiltrated all levels of government, without giving details.
Boko Haram is fighting to create an Islamic state in Nigeria and its fighters have killed hundreds in bomb and gun attacks since launching an uprising in 2009.
The latest development came as hospital officials said that at least 23 people were killed on Saturday after suspected Boko Haram fighters attacked a town in northeastern Nigeria.
Medics said that the fighters had wreaked havoc two days before, destroying several buildings in Potiskum, a town regarded as a hotbed for Boko Haram activity.
At least 2,800 people have died in fighting since Boko Haram’s rebellion began, Human Rights Watch (HRW), a global rights group based in the US, said.
A recent crackdown by the military has brought a lull in the more co-ordinated and deadly attacks seen early this year but violence in remote areas of the predominantly Muslim north continues almost daily.
HRW has said that both Boko Haram and Nigerian security forces may have committed crimes against humanity during their conflict. The heavy-handed tactics of the army help feed support for Boko Haram, security experts say.
The latest development came as Gunmen killed eight people in Nigeria’s troubled city of Potiskum Saturday, raising the death toll to 31 for three days of violence in the northeastern town, police and residents said.