The police in Yola, Adamawa State, have absolved a woman, Rukkayatu Salihu, 40, and her vulture of links to the Boko Haram sect.
The police had held the woman and the bird in custody for about a week following allegations by residents of the Toungo Ward in the Maiha area of the state that they were spies for the terror group.
After receiving complaints from members of the public, the state Police Commissioner, Audu Madaki, ordered the arrest of the woman and the bird, which Salihu said was given to her as a gift.
Residents of Maiha, who reported the case to the police, alleged that they had become perennial victims of Boko Haram attacks soon after a woman brought three live vultures into the community in 2014.
This informed their decision to involve the police as soon as they saw Salihu with a “mystical vulture.”
The officer in charge of the Criminal Investigation Department of the command, CSP Ahmed Gombi, while responding to questions from journalists on the case on Thursday, said preliminary investigation by the command had yet to establish any link between the “suspects” and the insurgents.
Gombi stated, “There’s no relationship between the woman, who brought three vultures to Maiha in 2014 and the woman who brought this one in 2019.
“A completely different set of persons owned that vulture that was brought to Maiha and after two days Boko Haram struck and because of that, the people now consider the presence of this vulture in their community as a sign of ill-luck.
“In the case of this particular one, this person is engaged in fetish practices and it has not been easy handling this bird but our fear is that the bird may die here.
“You know it is meant for flying high and not low flying. For it to be chained to the ground because we don’t have a cage further predisposes it to risks.”
He added that the owner of the bird, in her statement to the police, claimed that the vulture was meant for her husband, who is currently serving a jail term over his involvement in a case of homicide.
Help is, however, on the way for the bird as officials of the Nigerian Conservation Foundation, who have established links with the Adamawa State Police Command over its continued incarceration, are calling for its immediate release in order to preserve its kind.
Ahead of the arrival of the NCF officials, the command has hinted that upon its release, the vulture will not be returned to Maiha.
The officers are relieved that the NCF stepped forward to rescue the endangered vulture, saying it has not been easy looking after the bird.