November 24, 2012 by Agency Reporter
The Joint Military Task Force has offered various cash rewards for information leading to the capture of the leaders of the violent Islamic extremist group known as the Boko Haram.
Ransoms placed on Boko Haram members
A press statement released by the spokesperson of the JTF, Lt.Col Sagir Musa, which was available online on Friday, named the leader of the sect, Abubakar Shekau and 19 others as the targets.
The statement said, “They are wanted in connection with terrorist activities particularly in the North East Zone of Nigeria that led to the killings, bombings and assassination of some civilians, religious leaders, traditional rulers, businessmen, politicians, civil servants and security personnel amongst others.”
Also the JTF said the men were wanted for arson and destruction of properties worth of millions of Naira.
The task force placed a reward of N50m on Shekau and N25m each on four of the men, which it described as members of the ‘Shurra Committee’, an inner circle within the sect that is responsible for its major decisions.
The four men are Habibu Yusuf, aka Asalafi; Khalid Albarnawai, Momodu Bama; and Mohammed Zangina.
The 14 other men, described as Boko Haram Commanders have a bounty of N10m each placed on their heads.
In June, the United States designated three Nigerian Islamist extremists “global terrorists” but declined to label Boko Haram a terrorist group, citing its domestic focus, among other issues.
The three named by the US State Department were Shekau as well as Abubakar Adam Kambar and Khalid al-Barnawi, both said to have ties to a regional Al-Qaeda group.
Yet the JTF statement offered rewards on both Shekau and al-Barnawi, but not Kambar.
The statement indicates a new government hard line, perhaps stemming from efforts to generate negotiations that may see renewed militant attacks on soft targets in the country.
Violence linked to Boko Haram’s insurgency is believed to have left some 3,000 people dead since 2009, including killings by the security forces.
Recently, the group asked the leader of the Congress for Political Change, General Muhammadu Buhari, to mediate talks with the government, but Buhari turned down the offer.
The group has claimed to be seeking an Islamist state in Nigeria. But its demands have repeatedly shifted and it is believed to include various factions with differing aims, in addition to imitators and criminal gangs that carry out violence while posing as members of the group.
Meanwhile, the American ambassador to Nigeria, Terence McCulley said on Thursday that the US remains on high alert attacks on its interests in Nigeria by Islamists, even though they have not mounted any major operations for months.
Ambassador Terence McCulley told Reuters that unrest in Northern Mali made it easier for Nigeria’s Islamist sect Boko Haram to link up with outside jihadist groups, including al Qaeda’s north African wing.
“We’re still on a pretty high state of alert. There are potential targets of opportunity so … we need to be careful,” McCulley said in an interview in the Nigerian capital Abuja.
McCulley alluded to a bombing claimed by Boko Haram of the Nigeria headquarters of the United Nations in August 2011, killing 24 people, and the kidnappings and killings of one British, one Italian and one German citizen earlier this year.
Although Boko Haram itself denied any involvement in the kidnappings, they were thought to be the work of other Islamist groups with links to the sect.
“That is clear evidence that if there are targets of opportunity they will seize them. They are working contrary to our interests and other Western interests,” McCulley said.