Vanguard (Lagos)

Nigeria: Presidency Moves to Avert Attacks on Mosques, Churches During Sallah

Abuja — Baring fears and uncertainties among thousands of Muslim faithful across the country on the celebration of Eid-el-Fitr and intelligence reports indicating that Mosques and other prayer grounds as well as Churches may be attacked by terrorist groups, President Goodluck Jonathan has directed the nation's security chiefs to work around the clock during the celebrations to counter and prevent any attack.

Saturday Vanguard gathered that the Chief of Army staff, Lt. General Azubuike Ihejirika has directed the General Officers Commanding the Divisions to put their men on the alert to thwart any sinister plot while the commanders of the joint task forces in the north have received same directives from the Defence Headquarters.

On his part, the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Abubakar yesterday summoned an emergency meeting involving the Commissioners of Police in charge of Counter Terrorist Unit at Force headquarters; the CP in charge MOPOL, CP Joseph Mbu; the CP Federal Operations; the CP Border Patrol and the CP in charge Federal Capital territory, Adenrele Shinaba whereby specific directives were given on ensuring watertight security across the country.

Disclosing that the Presidency and the security agencies were not taking the threats by the terrorist groups lightly, the source told Saturday Vanguard that both the General Officer Commanding the 1 division of the Nigerian Army, Kaduna, Major General Gani Wahab and the GOC 3 division, Jos, Major General Jack Nwaoga, were particularly tasked to ensure that perpetrators of any such terrorist acts, were taken out before they strike.

To this end, Saturday Vanguard gathered that the Army has deployed 'specially trained Quick Intervention' troops along the Kaduna-Kano Corridor while the Joint Task Force complement in Kogi state which is under his command are on red alert as the state is now assuming a notorious status for the manufacture and distribution of IEDS.

General Ihejirika was said to have drummed it into the ears of the GOCs and Corp Commanders that terrorists should never be allowed the space and time to unleash any more mayhem on innocent citizens thereby trying to hold the nation to ransom. Hence, it was time for the well trained, better equipped and visionary Nigerian Army personnel to put the terrorists where they belong.

On his part, the IG yesterday sent out a signal directing all Zonal AIG's and State Command Commissioners of Police to take adequate measures to ensure the provision of water-tight security across the country before, during and after the celebration.

"Officers and men are to be deployed to ensure that the highways are effectively covered with motorized patrol teams. CPs are particularly mandated to personally ensure that all places of worship, recreation centres, resorts and other public places are adequately and effectively protected, to enable worshippers and the general public enjoy maximum fulfillment", the signal said.

In addition, all Zonal AIGs and CPs have also been advised to ensure the provision of 24hr security around all government installations, facilities and other related valuable targets. The IGP warned officers who will be deployed during the period, to ensure that they comport themselves within the confines of the law. They must be firm but polite, civil and professional in the discharge of their assigned roles, giving due regard and respect to the fundamental human rights of all Nigerians at all times.

The IG emphasized that his commitment and that of his Management Team towards reforming and repositioning the Nigeria Police Force for greater effectiveness and efficiency is irrevocable, adding that by God's grace, the battle against crime and criminality will eventually be won.

On the circulation of threat SMS messages warning worshippers and picnickers to stay off such places, the CP urged worshippers and picnickers to ignore such messages saying the aim was to create fear and panic among the populace. He noted however that the Police will investigate the source of such messages and get to the root of the matter.

Shinaba then released three dedicated phone numbers through which the command can be reached in case of emergency and when suspicious movements of persons were discovered. They are 08061581938, 07057337653 and 08032003913.

Meanwhile, the Inspector-General of Police, has felicitated with Nigerians especially, Muslim faithful, on the occasion of this year's Eid-el-fitr celebration coming on 20th and 21st of August, 2012. He specially congratulates all Muslim faithful for a most successful Ramadan period.

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