Three weeks ago, when the Department of State Services, DSS, alerted Abuja residents over plots by Boko Haram to attack churches, mosques and markets, using female suicide bombers, mostly young girls, it became obvious that there will be panic across the city. In fact, many worshippers, Crime Beat learnt, have abandoned worship centres. Tension is even mounting as the DSS reemphasised in a press statement last weekend that residents in FCT should be alert this Christmas and New Year seasons amid rising threats of terror attacks. Crime Correspondent IORAKPEN ISHU-JOSEF examines the security situation in the seat of power..
The first DSS memo by its FCT Director, Mohammed Ibrahim, addressed to the National Presidents of Jama’atu Nasril Islam, JNI and Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, urged religious bodies to put their members on alert.
The service asked residents to report suspicious elements around places of worship to the authorities using these telephone numbers: 09063872207, 09053872208 and 09053872209.
Part of the memo reads, “Intelligence reaching this office revealed that insurgents are planning to attack the Federal Capital Territory. Their main targets are worship centres and markets with the use of young girls as members of aid groups to carry out their planned attacks,” the letter read in part. It is in view of the foregoing, I am directed to inform you to communicate the content of this letter to all mosques, churches and markets across the FCT for extra vigilance, particularly unknown persons dressing as aid workers loitering around the worship areas and markets.”
Last weekend, DSS spokesman, Tony Opuiyo, said in a statement that preliminary investigations reveal that Boko Hara suspects and others still at large might have adopted their respective trades as plausible covers to infiltrate the city and its environs in their bid to conduct successful surveillance and map out soft targets for the sect’s attacks.
The DSS also assured the public that it would continue to carry out its responsibility of ensuring peace and security in Abuja and beyond.
”This is to inform the public that Boko Haram terrorist group has continued to establish and operate sleeper cells whose (sole) mandates are to conduct surveillance and carry out subsequent attacks in the FCT.
“For instance, on October 29, 2015, the duo of Muhammed Hassan Idris (a Nigerien) and Baba Abdul Maina were arrested at Panteka area of Apo, Abuja. This was followed by the arrest of Sanni Mohammed (aka Kakase) and Ahmed Umaru (aka Mallam; Mallam Hamdi Garne; Ahmed Daubi) in Lafia, Nasarawa State. Sanni, who hails from Potiskum, Yobe State, fled the area following his involvement in coordinated suicide attacks in Yobe, Plateau, Kano and Kaduna States.
“In a related development, on 19th November 2015, Mohammed Shiwar ABUBAKAR and Musa TA’ADA were arrested at Shoprite Junction, Apo, Abuja. ABUBAKAR hails from Borno State and operates as a taxi driver in Abuja. He is of an unknown address but claims that he sleeps in his Volkswagen Golf car at the Honda line, Apo mechanic village, Abuja. The Gwoza-born TA’ADA also operates under the cover of a suya seller at Apo Primary School along Kabusa Road, Abuja.
“Still, on November 23, 2015, one Ahmed Hassan was arrested while carrying out surveillance on a high-profile hotel in the city. He hails from Katagum, Bauchi State. Suspect admitted using the cover of a beggar to sustain surveillance on his targets. Bulama Ali had previously been arrested in Karu, Nasarawa State, on November 22, 2015.
“Similarly, on December 1, 2015, Hassan Abubakar and Mohammed Gwale Mohammed were arrested at Madalla, in Suleja LGA of Niger State following intelligence that they were planning to commence attacks in the FCT after a successful surveillance of the city.
“Before his arrest, Abubakar was working with other sect members in different parts of the country notably Borno, Yobe, Taraba and Adamawa States. Abubakar was arrested in the house of Mohammed Gwale who claims to be a Federal Civil Servant from Niger State. He (Gwale) has made useful statements, which are helping with further investigation.
“So far, preliminary investigations reveal that the suspects and others still at large may have adopted their respective trades as plausible covers to infiltrate the city and its environs in their bid to conduct successful surveillance and map out soft targets for the sect’s attacks. The DSS’ operations are therefore, aimed at preempting any attacks by the terrorist elements against the backdrop of the upcoming festive period and beyond.
“It is in this regard that the Service wishes to advice residents and all law abiding Nigerians to remain vigilant, especially at this yuletide season and promptly report to security agencies any suspicious movements and persons in the FCT and even other parts of the country. The Service also assures the general public that it will continue to carry out its responsibility of ensuring peace and security in Abuja and beyond.”
In all of these, the security organs of the federal government are not taking anything to chance. Like the police are not resting on their oars as the FCT Commissioner of Police; Mr. Wilson Inalegwu last week met with market women under the leadership of Chief Felicia Sani.
The CP told the market women that he called for the meeting to enlighten them on measures aimed at forestalling any attack on markets in the FCT by the terrorists. The Force headquarters will be complimenting the FCT command in this regard.
The Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, NSCDC is not left out. Spokesman of the Corps at the national headquarters, assistant commandant Emmanuel Okeh told crime beat that the headquarters is collaborating the FCT command and neighbouring states of Kogi, Niger and Nasarawa to ensure adequate personnel are deployed to man strategic places within and around FCT.
The DSS on their part have already mobilised its operatives on plain clothes and are deployed to nooks and crannies of the FCT to gather intelligence.
Already the defence headquarters has directed the armed forces, the army, air force and navy, to compliment the police and other security agencies in providing enough personnel so that there will be security dominance in the seat of power within the period concerned.