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Nigeria police chief suspended over terror suspect escape

By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 7:06 AM EST, Thu January 19, 2012
  • The suspect escaped after his police escorts were attacked
  • The local police commissioner is under investigation for possible negligence
  • The escapee is suspected to be a member of the Boko Haram militant Islamist group

Lagos, Nigeria (CNN) -- A police commissioner in Nigeria has been suspended after the escape of a suspected terror group member, Nigerian police confirmed Wednesday.

The suspect, an alleged member of Boko Haram, a militant Islamist group said to favor strict sharia law, had been arrested in a successful police operation, authorities said in a written statement.

The suspect was then handed over to a local police commissioner, who instructed his men to take the suspect to the town of Abaji, in the Federal Capital Territory, for further investigation.

The police officers escorting the man "were attacked by the suspected sect gang members and in the process the suspect (was) freed," the statement said.

Boko Haram's terrorizing of Nigeria
Who are Nigeria's Boko Haram?

"The police view this development as a serious negligence on the part of the commissioner of police and have since been queried and suspended him from duty. If a criminal case is established against him and his team, they will be prosecuted," Nigerian police said.

Police sources identified the escaped man as Kabir Sokoto, a local businessman.

He was initially detained after arriving uninvited at the Abuja residence of the Borno state governor, the police sources said.

Five people were killed in their homes by suspected militants in the states of Borno and Yobe over the weekend, putting police on a heightened state of alert, the sources said.

Boko Haram, whose name means "Western education is a sin," is frequently blamed for sectarian violence, particularly in northern Nigeria.

Police sources said Boko Haram had carried out an attack Wednesday on a Nigerian army outpost in Maiduguri, the capital of Borno, in which two soldiers were killed.

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan declared a partial state of emergency on December 31 in four northern states, Borno and Yobe among them, to contain a wave of attacks by Boko Haram.

The group claimed responsibility for a series of attacks on churches on Christmas Day.

CNN's Nima Elbagir contributed to this report.

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