A man suspected of being one of the most-wanted members of terror group Boko Haram has been arrested as he tried to board a flight in Nigeria's federal capital of Abuja, authorities have said. The arrest came days after the army released a list of 100 most-wanted Boko Haram suspects.
The identities of the alleged insurgents were disclosed during an anti-Boko Haram campaign in Maiduguri, capital of Borno state and epicentre of the group's insurgency. The suspect, identified as Chindo Bello, was apprehended as he tried to board a flight to Lagos, Nigeria's commercial hub, on Sunday 9 November.
Following the arrest, the defence headquarters said in a statement: "Following a tip-off by security agents and good citizens, a wanted Boko Haram terrorist suspect Chindo Bello, was arrested at Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport, Abuja.
"The suspect was apprehended by Aviation Security as he was boarding an Aero Contractors' flight to Lagos. He has since been handed over to the Military Intelligence for further interrogation."
This is not the first time that Boko Haram suspects have been arrested in the capital Abuja, which was rocked by coordinated bomb blasts that left at least 18 people dead and 41 injured on 2 October. Boko Haram claimed responsibility for the attack and said it targeted "strongholds of the apostates (non-believers)".
Earlier in October, two men believed to be behind the blasts were arrested in Abuja, while the government also beefed up security in Lagos fearing attacks.
Who are Nigeria's Boko Haram terrorists?
Boko Haram (recently renamed Iswap) fights against Western influence in Nigeria and aims to impose its version of Sharia law in the country.
The group declared an Islamic caliphate in Gwoza, along the Cameroon border, in August 2014.
Boko Haram has raided several cities in the north of the country in a bid to take control of more territory. Three states − Adamawa, Borno and Yobe − have been under a state of emergency since May 2013, due to Boko Haram's attacks.
Boko Haram has killed more than 17,000 people since its insurgency became violent in 2009. The group focuses its insurgency mainly in northern Nigeria and Cameroon, with attacks also occurring in Chad and Niger.
President Muhammadu Buhari vowed his administration would end terrorism and announced that a new Nigeria-led task force – consisting of 8,700 troops from Nigeria, Niger, Chad, Cameroon and Benin – is ready to take over in the ongoing regional fight against the terrorists.
The Nigerian government has also declared that the terrorists were surrendering but the group has refuted the claims in an audio message. The voice identified in the broadcast is thought to belong to Boko Haram leader, Abubakar Shekau, who was rumoured to have been replaced due to his repeated absence from the group's videos.