Authorities of the Nigerian Police Force, the Directorate of State Services, DSS, the Military and sister security agencies have hit the ground running following confirmation of the security alert issued by the United States and United Kingdom Missions in Nigeria, of plots by the terrorist group, the Jama’atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda’awati wal-Jihad, which, in English, means, “People Committed to the Propagation of the Prophet’s Teachings and Jihad”, and otherwise known as Boko Haram, to carry out suicide bombing attacks on strategic government assets, as well as crowded places like markets and motor parks in the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Abuja, and six other states.
Security sources made Sunday Vanguard understand, at the weekend, that the discovery that hundreds of degraded Boko Haram terrorists’ from Sambisa Forests, Bama, Konduga, Gwoza and other parts of the North East, have escaped to the FCT and were currently disguising their identities, but meeting secretly to launch deadly attacks on the city.
Consequently, Sunday Vanguard gathered that a joint security team of 500 personnel with counter-terrorism experience and training, drawn from the Police, DSS, Army, Navy, Airforce, NSCDC, Immigration and Customs, as well as other para-military agencies, have been activated to carry out pre-emptive raids and strikes on suspected hideouts and meeting places of suspects.
Already, in some raids on suspected hideouts as exposed by very reliable informants with inside contacts within the terrorists group, the security team stormed meeting points in the Nyanya-Maraba axis in the ‘dead of the night’, and apprehended over 195 suspects with dangerous weapons and devices recovered.
A source privy to the raids disclosed that after the operation, officials of the Nigeria Immigration Service, NIS, and Nigeria Customs Service, NCS, who are part of the team weeded out close to 40 foreign nationals made up of Chadians, Nigeriens and other nationals with questionable intentions.
The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) on its part weeded out another 60 others, suspected to be involved in drug peddling and usage.
Continuing, the source disclosed that throughout the Yuletide period, the joint security outfit will work round the clock, noting that its next target after Nyanya-Mararaba, would be the Kubwa-Suleija axis, where a large concentration of Boko Haram escapees are believed to be hibernating.
In furtherance of its strategic operations, Sunday Vanguard also gathered that the team would move into some suspected black spots in the Gwagwalada, Kwali-Yangoji and Abaji axis.
This would be with a view to ensuring that terrorists’ sympathizers and runaway members don’t get a foothold in the FCT.
Whereas these raids may be yielding results, there are other concerns.
Fresh Concerns A top security commander has raised the alarm concerning what he disclosed as “the withdrawal of anti-bomb tracking and detection vehicles from some spots. They were purchased by the Jonathan administration and were deployed to all exit and entry points in Abuja as well as very important national assets like the Central Bank, the NNPC headquarters, the National Assembly etc.
“This technological equipment gotten from Germany went a long way in preventing several suicide bombing attacks in the FCT after the Nyanya bombing which claimed over 80 lives.
They have the capacity to track and detect bombs and other dangerous explosives within a radius of 500 to 1,000 meters.
“Once any vehicle or occupant or whoever, carrying an IED enters and approaches a radius mentioned above, the equipment starts sending a beep and tracks the movement of the explosive thereby preparing the security operatives for counter measures”.
As to why such important security equipment were withdrawn, the senior officer claimed ignorance but added that a situation where these same equipment are deployed only for the security of high profile Nigerians and events like the PDP National Convention, APC events and presidential occasions, and kept away when it concerns security of the generality of Nigerians, calls for questions.
“No matter the number of officers and men you deploy to man the checkpoints at entry and exit points, without technological support, there could be a loophole. So, there is need for this important equipment to be redeployed especially now that it is an emergency situation” the source said.
Emphasizing that residents of the FCT should be extra vigilant and avoid crowded places like motor parks and markets, another top security source said, “to know these persons (terrorist’s), look out for strange faces. In most cases, such people look very aggressive. They don’t look friendly. They keep to themselves, they don’t mix with people. Such persons should be reported to security agencies”.