The Islamic militant suspected over the Christmas Day bomb attack on a Christian church in Nigeria has escaped less than 24 hours after his arrest.
Kabiru Sokoto, said to be the deputy commander of Boko Haram, a radical Nigerian Islamist sect, is alleged to have masterminded the attack on Roman Catholic worshippers at a church close to Abuja.
He escaped when the vehicle carrying him under armed police guard through the city was attacked by a gang of young men who forced it off the road.
The senior police commissioner in charge of Sokoto's arrest and detention has been suspended over the incident.
Olusola Amore, a spokesman for Nigeria's police, said yesterday: "The policemen on escorts with the suspect were attacked by the suspected sect gang members and in the process the suspect (was) freed.
"The police view this development as a serious negligence on the part of the Commissioner of Police and have since queried and suspended him from duty."
Sokoto's escape will be a significant embarrassment for Nigeria's police force and its government following allegations that Boko Haram had connections within the elites running the country.
"It is not acceptable, it cannot be true that people who are employed to defend us from these terrorists cannot even keep them under arrest," said David Amosu, a civil servant in Lagos, the commercial capital.
Sokoto was arrested in connection with the bombing of St Theresa Church in Madella. He was found on Tuesday hiding at the house of the governor of Borno state.
Boko Haram has increased its attacks on Christians, churches, the police and international targets including the United Nations in recent months, as it pursues a mission to clear non-Muslims out of Nigeria's north. (© Daily Telegraph, London)