20 Suspected Boko Haram Chiefs Arrested, Rebels Advance On Nigeria’s Largest City

Muhammadu Buhari has made eliminating jihadist group Boko Haram a priority after he took office as president of Nigeria May 29. The Department of State Services (DSS), which is the nation’s main security agency, announced Sunday that 20 “notable commanders and frontline members” of Boko Haram were arrested throughout the country since July 8, Reuters reports.

The DSS announced that militant leaders suspected of coordinating attacks earlier this year in cities located in the northern and central parts of the country were arrested in Enugu, Gombe, Kano, Lagos, and Plateau states, stating that many of the captured Boko Haram chiefs had already made confessions. According to DSS spokesman Tony Opuiyo, one of the men arrested, a man by the name of Usman Shuaibu, has already confessed to leading a group of nine militants who assisted in a number of attacks.

“The arrest of Usman Shuaibu, aka Money, and the core members of his cell, stemmed the spate of bombings by the extremist sect.”

According to the Associated Press, an intelligence official also revealed Sunday that the Boko Haram Islamic extremists are moving to bring their reign of terror into Lagos, which is Nigeria’s largest city. Opuiyo says the recent surge in the number of Boko Haram agents coming into Lagos, as well as other areas of the country that are not part of the militant group’s main territory, shows it is working to regain ground that has been lost over the last several months after troops from Chad and Nigeria have successfully pushed the rebels out of some 25 towns and urban areas throughout northeastern parts of the country.

“Security agencies had arrested 14 Boko Haram suspects in Lagos, the capital Abuja and other parts of the country outside the northeast in the past two months. Those arrested include cell leaders, some of whom admitted to involvements in recent suicide attacks.”

Over the last six years, Boko Haram has executed an estimated 20,000 people, 1,000 of which have been murdered since President Buhari was elected in March. Most recently, Sahara Reporters revealed that at least 60 civilians were killed and others injured in the latest Boko Haram attack, which took place in Borno State Friday.

Local vigilante Lawan Kundi said the terrorists came into the isolated village of Baanu around 8 p.m. Friday on motorcycles and horseback, slaughtering every person they encountered before burning down the entire village.

“They opened fire on helpless civilians, we then fled into the bush and hid. After they left we returned back to pick up some of our belongings. I counted at least 64 bodies.”

[Photo credit: Flickr/ Hello World Media]