The Federal Government is considering arrangements that will strengthen security measures around foreigners working in northern states following last weekend's announcement by Ansaru, an offshoot of Boko Haram, that it had executed seven foreign construction workers it abducted last month in Bauchi State.
THISDAY learnt Monday from security sources that companies and agencies employing foreigners to work in the north had been directed to seek and adopt special security arrangements to safeguard their lives.
THISDAY learnt that the new measures, which will be applicable to firms in the northern states, is aimed at preventing further embarrassment for Nigeria from Islamic militants who overpower security personnel of the companies with ease, to capture their foreign workers.
Ansaru, during a raid on the campsite of a construction company, Setraco, in Jama'are, Bauchi State, on February 16, had abducted the seven foreign construction workers after killing their local guard.
THISDAY Monday exclusively obtained the names and nationalities of the slain foreign workers. They are: Brendan Vaughan (British), Silvano Trevisan (Italian), Imad Elandary (Lebanese), Carlos Abou Aziz (Lebanese), Konstantinos Karras (Greek), Ghaida Saad (F/Syrian) and Julio Alkhouli (Syrian).
However, it could not be ascertained from security sources if the "F" in the late Ghaida Saad's name stands for female or not.
THISDAY also learnt Monday that despite confirmation from Britain, Italy and Greece that the abducted foreign workers had been killed, none of the nation's security agencies had confirmed Ansaru's claim that it had executed the captives.
The official silence over the fate of the foreign workers arose from the fact that their bodies have not been located.
The Federal Government is also cautious about accepting the manner in which the hostages were allegedly killed, as its analysis of the video announcing the killings by the Islamic terrorist group left a lot of gaps.
Security authorities also believe that three hostages who were quite ill and had no access to their drugs might have suffered a worsening in their conditions, given the fear expressed by their doctors.
The Defence Headquarters maintained its silence over the claim of Ansaru that it had killed the foreigners.
In the meantime, several efforts made by THISDAY to get an update from the Director of Defence Information (DDI), Col. Mohammed Yerima, proved abortive.
A military source stated that it would be difficult and premature to expect the security agencies to speak on their operational plans.
"There is no way the military will speak, especially on their operational plans on whether there is a mass search to recover or rescue the bodies of the foreigners or not as this will jeopardise their chances.
"For now, nobody knows for sure what is happening and if there has been any directive to conduct a mass hunt for the bodies. But there is definitely an effort on the part of government and security agents to unravel the mystery," the source said.
Minister of Information, Mr. Labaran Maku, who was approached by State House correspondents on the position of the Federal Government on the killing of the captives, also declined comment, saying he had not been fully briefed.
"I don't have the full brief to brief you," he said as he walked briskly out of the Presidential Villa, Abuja, where he had earlier attended a meeting with President Goodluck Jonathan.
He also kept mum when he was asked to react to the listing of Nigeria as a terrorist state by France over the incident.