A bodyguard to Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has been arrested for allegedly having ties to a senior member of the Islamic State-affiliated terrorist group Boko Haram.
Nigerian newspaper Vanguard is reporting that bodyguard Corporal Hassan Aminu has been arrested for allegedly having ties to Boko Haram’s second-in-command, Khalid Albarnawi, the head of the Ansaru Islamic Sect. The newspaper notes that the presidential offices have yet to confirm the arrest of Amuni or reports of his ties to Albarnawi, not replying to requests for comment.
Zimbabwe’s The Herald adds the detail that anonymous security sources have told them the government in Abuja has ordered a complete overhaul of the security system, requiring deeper background checks on individuals working to protect the president. The source said catching Aminu was a stroke of luck: “God was just on our side.”
The shocking news of a Boko Haram associate being tasked with protecting the president of Nigeria arrives more than six months after President Buhari announced that Nigeria had “won the war” against Boko Haram. In December, the end of a self-imposed three-month deadline, Buhari claimed the terrorist organization had been soundly defeated, and while small skirmishes may lay ahead, the hardest work was behind the nation’s armed forces.
Boko Haram attacks have consistently continued to plague Nigeria since that announcement, as well as neighboring countries Niger, Cameroon, and Chad. In Nigeria, Boko Haram terrorists reportedly kidnapped two Indian nationals this week. In Cameroon, a Boko Haram terrorist successfully executed a suicide bombing resulting in the deaths of eleven people. In Niger, the jihadists stormed the town of Bosso, in the Lake Chad region, leaving Niger so disarmed that Chad was forced to deploy 2,000 troops to the area in early June.
The victims of Boko Haram who are now out of their grasp continue to suffer, however. An estimated 200 people starved to death between May and June in a refugee camp in Bama, Nigeria, home to over 24,000 refugees displaced by Boko Haram raids that leveled entire villages and towns. Doctors Without Borders has called the situation in Bama a “catastrophic humanitarian emergency.”
President Buhari reiterated this week that his government continues to prioritize the rescue of the hundreds of girls abducted from the town of Chibok, Borno state, most of which still remain missing under Boko Haram control. The government has made little progress in finding them since 2014, but Buhari asserted Friday, “we are not letting up our efforts to rescue the Chibok girls.”
Elsewhere in the region, police have conducted raids to arrest Boko Haram suspects and interrogate them, only to be met with blowback from local Muslim communities. The families of ten men arrested for ties to Boko Haram in Niger are demanding their relatives be set free despite the accusation. “We are Muslims that follow the teachings of the Qur’an and Sunna of the Prophet (SAW). We go to Western schools and government hospitals,” one family member told the Nigerian outlet Naij, blaming neighbors looking for ways to harm them for the arrests.