Abuja/Lagos/Kano — The nation's top security chiefs are reviewing the nation's counter-terrorism strategies with a view to coming up with a better approach to curtailing the resurgence in terrorist attacks in Northern Nigeria, investigations by THISDAY revealed thursday.
A security sources told THISDAY that their aim was to come up with a new strategy to stem the tide of terrorist attacks, which took another worrisome dimension with Monday's bombing of a busy motor park in Sabon Gari, Kano, patronised by southern-bound passengers.
Reacting to the incident, the State Security Service (SSS) blamed the bombing of the bus station on poor attention to security by Nigerians while the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) called for restraint to avoid further bloodletting in the country.
On their part, the Emir of Kano, Alhaji Ado Bayero, urged the federal government to bring those behind Monday's attacks to justice while Abia State Governor, Chief Theodore Orji, urged the Igbos to consider relocating home since it appears that their lives and property are no longer safe in the north.
The sources, who expressed concern over northern leaders' perceived indifference to the spate of terrorists attacks in their region, which he said was encouraging members of Boko Haram, who are suspected to be behind the fresh onslaught, said the security agencies were on high alert to avoid attacks during the Easter celebration.
In furtherance of the effort to check attacks on targets during the Easter celebration, the source said some black spots had been identified and security would be beefed up in the areas before the celebration.
They said some northern leaders had been placed under surveillance in view of some of the comments they have made to justify the activities of Boko Haram.
They however declined to name those whose activities or utterances have come under the searchlight of the security agencies.
The security sources confirmed that the current security situation in the country was grave and is giving those in charge cause for great concern, adding the security agencies had devised alternative strategies to combat terror after reviewing recent developments in the country.
When asked what the new strategies were, one source said: "We cannot discuss operational strategy in the newspapers. The terrorists who are less trained don't give out their strategies to you (media) they only give you video of what they want you to use."
On whether amnesty should be given to the terrorists in the wake of the clamour by northern leaders that President Goodluck Jonathan should consider it for the Boko Haram members, he said: "That is political; we deal only with security matters."
THISDAY further learnt that security authorities also deliberated on fallout of the president's visit to the terror-stricken states of Borno and Yobe and concluded that the resurgence in terrorist attack might be due to the fact that the terrorists must have believed that they enjoyed the tacit support of northern leaders because of their plea for amnesty for them.
One source added that some northern leaders had been placed under constant surveillance owing to their utterances and to monitor any conduct that might be inimical to national security.
When asked to name some of black spots under their radar during the Easter period, the source said: "Everywhere in the north where the community leaders agree to harbour them is dangerous."
On the new targets by terrorists, which include motor parks and schools, the source said the motor park dimension was worrisome and difficult to control because of the chaotic nature of the area, adding that what it requires is more increased surveillance and alertness from both the people and security personnel.
"Only terrorists want to die; no passenger, driver or park worker wants to die, hence the need for vigilance," he added.
However, the SSS yesterday blamed Monday's suicide bomb attacks on the motor park in Kano on Nigerians whom it accused of treating the issue of security with levity.
SSS Deputy Director of Publicity, Mrs. Marilyn Ogar, while responding to questions on a Channels Television programme, rejected the suggestion that there had been a lull in the performance of security operatives in the northern part of the country in view of the resurgence in terrorist attacks, especially in Kano.
Ogar said there was no lull, but "maybe Nigerians became too relaxed because there was a little bit of respite," in reference to the recent arrests and onslaught the security forces made on hideouts of the Islamic militants.
According to her, the security agencies had taken out the Boko Haram leadership, adding that it was only a rump of the leadership, which she described as "some loose cannons" who are trying to "find their feet and are staging the new attacks."
Also yesterday, the ACN urged leaders of thought to urgently come together to seek peace and unity in order to prevent anarchy following the bombing of the Kano motor park.
The party, in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Muhammed, said: "As things stand, the federal government, possesses neither the vision nor the capacity to confront the worsening acts of terrorism in the country."
It added: "As we commiserate with the victims of this senseless act and their families, we will like to say that this is the time for sober reflection and restraint; and that all leaders of thought must urgently come together, formally or informally, to avert a national calamity that will not spare anyone, whether or not they are members of the Boko Haram sect."
The party said all religious, ethnic and political leaders must start by preaching restraint in their domains, to prevent the impending conflagration being planned by the fundamentalists.
ACN blamed Jonathan for the escalation of terror in the country, which it attributed to his comments during his visit to Borno and Yobe States.
Meanwhile, the Emir of Kano has described the attack on the motor park as an attempt to cause chaos in the country.
He urged the government to fish out the terrorists and their sponsors "who are trying to create problems among Nigerians because we are living together with our brothers across the country harmoniously."
The emir, while receiving a federal government delegation in his palace, said: "It is a very sad situation whereby everyday you are inundated that someone is killed or there are problems somewhere."
He urged the federal government to consider some of the suggestions and recommendations made by the Northern Elders' Forum that was submitted to the president eight months ago as a way of ending the siege.
Bayero also called on the federal government to come up with a programme that would solve the security challenges in the country, while appealing to both Muslims and Christians to intensify prayers for peace and stability to reign in the country.
Minister of Interior, Mr. Abba Moro, who led the government delegation, said the government would deploy all security agencies to ensure that terrorists would not attack Kano again.
However, the spokesman of the Northern Elders' Forum, Professor Ango Abdullahi, described Jonathan's visit to Borno and Yobe states as an insult to the states' elders.
Ango told reporters in Kano thursday that the president was there to ridicule the elders and people, when his response to their demands on the extra-judicial killings and other heinous crimes committed by security agents in both states, is taken into consideration.
He also expressed sadness over the delay in responding to reports and recommendations that the forum submitted to the presidency on the pressing security challenges facing the northern region.
"We have submitted our recommendations directly to the presidency in, which we suggested to the government that this issue needs a collective approach for effective dialogue and not military approach.
"For eight months, we waited for the presidency's response to our recommendations and up till date we have not received any," he said.
The forum also paid a visit to Bayero over the recent attack on the emir during which the delegation told the emir that the forum was deeply touched by the incident and prayed for the return of peace to the region and Nigeria.
Also reacting to the Kano bombings, Abia State governor yesterday deplored the incessant attacks on the Igbos in the north, stressing that it was high time they "think of home if the safety of their lives is being threatened."
Orji said it was imperative for Igbos to have a rethink, given the frequent attacks on them and their business concerns in the north.
The governor, who spoke through his Special Adviser, Public Communications, Mr. Ben Onyechere, said the frequent loss of lives and property, aside from becoming a recurring incident, has become an issue that needs to be looked into in the interest of national unity.
Orji said: "It has become pertinent that since you are targets of unjustifiable attacks you may have little or no option than to relocate if necessary.
"I painfully send my heartfelt condolences to all those who have lost loved ones just as much as I condole with myself because I feel the pain as much as everyone else, since a dead body has no enemy."