A court has granted the security services more time to investigate the man who facilitated ransom payments to kidnappers holding the remaining passengers seized from a Kaduna-bound train six months ago.
The security services can hold Tukur Mamu, a media publisher turned hostage negotiator, for another 60 days to continue their investigation, the Federal High Court in Abuja ruled this week.
Mr Mamu “aided and abetted” local and international terror groups, lawyers acting for the DSS said in a motion presented to the court. The offences they were looking at involved “terrorism financing”, the court heard.
The DSS also want to pursue allegations that Mamu “orchestrated the untimely death of several security personnel” according to the documents considered by Presiding Justice Evelyn Maha.
Mr Mamu was arrested in Cairo, Egypt, on Sept 6.
He is at present the only person to be arrested following March’s attack on the train and the kidnapping of passengers.
Lawyers representing the Department of State Security (DSS) have not yet levelled official charges or evidence against Mamu, but they told the court they believe there is a significant case to answer.
The hearing on Sept. 13 was brought by the government’s lawyers. Mamu’s lawyers did not make any statement to the court and have not yet had the chance to enter any plea.
Outside the court, a spokesman for the DSS said the details of what they have discovered are “mind boggling”, but did not give further details.
In the search of Mamu’s home, the security services seized evidence including money in different currencies, bank documentation, computers, some ammunition and military uniforms, documents put before the court say.
Mamu was arrested at Cairo airport as he travelled to Saudi Arabia.
A spokesperson for Mamu told the media he was on the lesser pilgrimage to Mecca.
In March this year, terrorists attacked a Kaduna-bound train and kidnapped over 150 people. They led their victims into the forest, where men, women and children have been held for six months. The military initially attacked what they said were militant’s camps, claiming to have killed some of the terrorists. But in August, President Buhari told the media the use of “lethal force” had been “reluctantly discarded”.
Though President Buhari assured the families that the government was doing “everything in its power” to help the victims of the attack regain their freedom, many of the victims have still not regained freedom six months later, leading their families and friends to contact middlemen they thought could help them get their people released.
Kidnappers have released some victims after the family and friends paid ransoms, thought to be as much as hundreds of thousands of dollars collectively. The Kidnappers have released people in groups on several occasions.
But others remain in the forest. Their captors have released distressing films of their remaining prisoners.
Tukur is the publisher of the news and analysis website Desert Herald, and is a former student of Abubakar Ahmed Gumi, the Kaduna-based cleric.
Mr Gumi is on record as recommending dialogue with the armed groups who have sprung up in the Northwest and neighbouring states in northcentral Nigeria in recent years. He has also cautioned against labelling the groups as terrorists.
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