Nigeria’s military on Tuesday said it has arrested a man accused of spying for Boko Haram in a deadly church bombing five years ago, along with three suspected accomplices.
Victor Moses was detained in the town of Alkaleri in northeastern Bauchi state when he went to a mosque and claimed he wanted to convert to Islam, said Brigadier-General Abraham Dusu.
Dusu, who commands the Bauchi artillery brigade, said Moses “confessed to conducting surveillance for Boko Haram” from a shop near the St Theresa Roman Catholic Church in Madalla, near Abuja.
At least 44 worshippers were killed when a bomb ripped through St Theresa’s on December 25, 2011 in what was Boko Haram’s deadliest attack on Christian places of worship.
The Islamist group later claimed responsibility for the Christmas Day attack, which was one of several over the festive period.
Kabiru Sokoto, the mastermind of the bombing, was arrested and later sentenced to life in jail.
Dusu told Nigeria’s highest-ranking army officer, chief of army staff General Tukur Buratai, during a visit to Bauchi on Monday that Moses was from the central state of Benue.
He aroused suspicion among locals in Bauchi, who in turn alerted the military.
“Our troops on duty arrested Victor Moses after receiving a report from people in the area that the suspect had been loitering around the mosque claiming he was a Christian and wanted to convert to Islam,” Dusu said as he paraded Moses before Buratai.
“But he was not from the area, they suspected him and reported to our men”.
Boko Haram, which wants to create a hardline Islamic state in northeast Nigeria, has attacked Christian churches as well as government buildings in its nearly seven-year insurgency.
It has also hit schools, markets, bus stations and mosques in an apparently indiscriminate targeting of civilians of all faiths that has left at least 17,000 dead since 2009.