Bloomberg News

Nigeria Investigating Suspected Qaddafi Fighters, Police Say

September 29, 2011

(Updates with comment from immigration official in fifth paragraph.)

Sept. 29 (Bloomberg) -- Nigeria is investigating more than 100 people detained in the northern city of Kaduna on suspicion of being fighters for former Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi after they entered the country from Niger, police said.

“It is only investigation that will prove if they’re Qaddafi fighters or just Nigerians returning home,” police spokesman Yemi Ajayi said today by phone from Abuja, the capital. “They’ll be allowed to go if they’re not fighters from Libya.”

The authorities have intensified security checks and patrols along the borders of Africa’s most populous nation on concern that pro-Qaddafi fighters may try to sneak into the country from neighboring Niger and Chad. They are also trying to counter a spate of bombings and attacks carried out by a militant Islamic sect known as Boko Haram in the mainly Muslim north and the capital since last year.

Police have tightened security across the West African nation after the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, or MEND, a militant group in the southern oil region, threatened yesterday to detonate bombs in Abuja on Nigeria’s Oct. 1 independence anniversary, Ajayi said.

“Insecurity, weapons in the hands of civilians and illegal immigrants have forced us to intensify tougher screening across our borders,” Umar Bulama, the immigration comptroller in Katsina State, said by phone today from the state capital. “From whichever country you come from, you must have valid documents.”

Nigeria, Africa’s top oil producer, broke ranks with other African nations in recognizing the National Transitional Council as the legitimate authority in Libya on Aug. 23 and urging Qaddafi to relinquish power immediately.

--Editors: Karl Maier, Jennifer M. Freedman

To contact the reporter on this story: Elisha Bala-Gbogbo in Abuja at ebalagbogbo@bloomberg.net; Mustapha Mohammed in Kano, Nigeria via Abuja at dmbachu@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Antony Sguazzin at asguazzin@bloomberg.net


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