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The new Boko Haram threat to bomb Abuja

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By ChibisiOhakah

The joint warning from the United States and the United Kingdom of a looming bomb attack on the nation’s capital from the obviously invigorated Boko Haram sect has brought the Federal Capital Territory [FCT] and environ under extreme cold, even though the Nigerian Meteorological Agency [NIMET] weather report put the location at an average of 35*C last week. The alert warned US and UK nationals of terrorist groups’ threat to carry out bomb attacks in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, and six other states during the yuletide.

The two governments specifically warned its nationals not to travel to Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Jigawa and Yobe till the end of the year. The report further said that people should avoid crowded places, worship centres, markets and malls, hotels, bars, restaurants, transport hubs and camps for internally displaced persons. “Review your personal security plans, remain aware of your surroundings, including local events, and monitor local news stations for updates. Be vigilant and take appropriate steps to enhance your personal security,” the US Embassy warned in their statement

Many Nigerians are not surprised about the Boko Haram threat given the boldness they have displayed in recent times. The media is awash of reports of free killings going on in most of north east geopolitical zone. The military who have been waging the war against the terrorists seem the bigger casualties in recent times, for reasons the army is yet to say.

The current threat is the second alert from the terrorists this year. Five months ago, the Islamic group threatened to bomb the Federal Capital Territory.  The threat came via a video clip released by Abubakar Shekau, the sect’s leader. Although the Nigerian army dismissed the threat, a renowned security expert, Dr.Ekhomu Ona, expressed serious concern over the Boko Haram threat.

Ona argued that the swapped commander now has a better inside knowledge to plot a good attack.  Referencing the incidence of swapping the Chibok girls with Boko Haram Commanders, he said there is more reason now to fear. “Returning commanders of Boko Haram to the battlefield is not a great idea. However, we have no choice in this case because we have to secure the release of our girls.  It is a credible threat because we have active terrorist cells that are all over the country. We have them in the Kogi axis; we have them in the outline districts of Abuja,” the security expert said

The current grip of extreme cold on the FCT residents is as a result of the experiences of the past.  In April 14, 2014, at about 6.45am, the Boko Haram terrorists hit Nyanya, a suburb of Abuja twice inside 30 minutes interval. The agents of death targeted the usually crowded park when commuters joined buses coming into the city centre. At the end of the count, 88 persons lost their lives, and over 200 others injured.

They had planted explosives inside the vehicles detonated during morning rush hour in. Reports said after the initial blast, further explosions occurred as fuel tanks in nearby vehicles ignited.  The figures of the dead and the injured were given by the head of the Abuja Emergency Relief Agency, Abbas Idris.

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Boko Haram claimed responsibility for the bombing six days after it occurred with a video released on 19 April,showing the group’s leader Abubakar Shekau. One Aminu Sadiq Ogwuche was later arrested by Interpol in Sudan in May 2014 on the suspicion of being one of the masterminds of the bombings.

Despite promises by President Muhammadu Buhari that he would eradicate Boko Haram, the spate of bombings skyrocketed in his first year and had been regular ever since.  By October 3, 2015, wthe death toll of Boko Hara victims wasput at more than 1,260 since President Muhammadu Buhari took office on 29 May same year.  Two bomb blasts in the Abuja areas that welcomed Buhari were recorded on Friday, October 2, 2015 in Kuje and Nyanya, at about 10.30pm.  Kuje is 40 kilometres away from the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, and at that time, the Kuje Prison was reportedly housing dozens of Boko Haram prisoners captured by troops.

The same bus station in Nyanya, on the outskirts of the city centre, was hit twice the previous year. While the first attack, on 14 April 2014, clamed 88 persons, the second on May 1, left at least 16 dead. The latest blasts happened almost simultaneously and appeared to use “the same kind of explosives used in the insurgency” in Nigeria’s northeast,” a NEMA spokesman said. Abuja was last attacked on 25 June last year, when 22 people were killed in a blast at a popular shopping centre in the heart of the capital.

Buhari came to power vowing to crush the insurgency, criticising what he said was poor leadership by his predecessor Goodluck Jonathan that had created a demoralised and under-equipped military. In fact, he gave himself deadlines that had been broken repeatedly.  He once gave his top commanders November 2016 to crush Boko Haram, which at that time had reportedly clamed about 17,000 lives and made more than 2.5 million homeless since 2009.

Early last year, Boko Haram claimed relationship with the Islamic State group which controls swathes of territory in Syria and Iraq. Following the heat on them by the army and their allies, the BokoHaram operatives resorted to guerrilla-style urban warfare tactics, spreading out once again from Borno State to neighboring states of Adamawa, Yobe, Bauchi, Taraba and Gombe. Targets in the new strategy have included crowded bus stations, places of worships, markets, cinema centres, etc.,spreading fear among local populations.

A five-nation military force comprising troops from Nigeria, Niger, Chad, Cameroon and Benin had been deployed but there seem little to show for the collaboration. There had been recorded cross border attacks from the sect. The Presidency is yet to formerly come up with official statements on the alerts raised by the US and UK. However, last Monday, Police allayed fears of terror attacks in FCT, and six other states.

In a statement, the Force Public Relations Officer, Mr.JimohMoshood, reassured residents of the identified states not to panic as adequate security measures had been put in place.  He said the Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris (IGP), had ordered Commissioners of Police and their supervising Assistant Inspectors-General of Police in charge of Zonal and State Commands across the country, to be on red-alert and beef up security throughout the concerned states and other parts of the country.

Moshood said the recent Boko Haram attacks on soft targets in Adamawa and Borno states, compelled the IGP to order all commissioners of police in charge of state commands and their supervising assistant inspectors- general of police and their personnel nationwide to be on red-alert with effect from November. 21, 2017.  This, he explained, is to nip in the bud and prevent the spread of further attacks in the affected states and other states of the federation.

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“Notwithstanding the recent cautions and warnings by US and UK missions in Nigeria of possible attacks by Boko Haram insurgents on soft targets in FCT, Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Jigawa and Yobe, the IGP has re-emphasised his directive to the officers to remain on red alert,” the police spokesman said, adding that the commissioners of Police in the identified states were under strict instructions to hold stakeholders’ meetings with the people in their areas of responsibility.

In addition, he said, they had been ordered to strengthen security in their areas and carry out massive deployment of police personnel and equipment in the identified vulnerable locations and perceived/prone soft targets. “They are also to ensure 24-hour patrols of mosques and churches, markets, schools, motor parks, hotels, recreation centres, settlements, villages, towns and cities in the mentioned states. The operations, which have commenced in the indicated states, will continue throughout the month of December and into the New Year and beyond,” he said.

Moshood urged members of the public in the mentioned states to go about their lawful businesses without any apprehension or panic, but with caution, vigilance and more security consciousness. He advised them to promptly report any suspicious happenings in their surroundings to the nearest police station or formation.

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1 Comment
  1. DEAN GAY says

    these people are directly connected to the DAAR Group

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