Nigeria's army says troops have arrested a businessman accused of "participating actively" in Boko Haram's mass abduction of nearly 300 schoolgirls from the northeastern town of Chibok that drew international outrage.

Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Chris Olukolade says Babuji Ya'ari headed a "terrorists' intelligence cell" for the Islamic extremists while masquerading as a member of the self-defense Youth Vigilante Group.

A statement released Tuesday night said Ya'ari coordinated several deadly attacks on the northeastern city of Maiduguri since 2011 and spearheaded the May 2014 assassination of the emir of Gwoza, a religious and traditional ruler who was targeted for speaking out against Boko Haram's extremism.

Nigeria's homegrown extremist group was responsible for the April 2014 kidnapping of 273 girls from a boarding school in the town of Chibok. Dozens escaped but 219 schoolgirls remain missing.