Maiduguri/Abuja — Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon, Niger raise joint force against terrorism
To forestall impending attacks on Maiduguri by the Boko Haram terrorist group during the Eid-el-Fitri celebration, the military and other security agencies have mounted heavy security checkpoints at various locations in the troubled town and banned all vehicular movement throughout the festive period. It also emerged yesterday that Ministers of Defence from Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon and Republic of Niger have constituted a regional security force against terrorism.
The Nigerian military, which is acting on a tip-off that the insurgents aim to bomb some public places with vehicles laden with explosives, took the decision to totally prevent movement of all vehicles from tomorrow to Wednesday.
According to the military in a statement yesterday, signed by the spokesman of 7 Division, Nigeria Army, Maiduguri, Col. Muhammad Dole, "â€‹the report at the disposal of the security agencies reveals that the terrorists have perfected plans to launch multiple bomb explosions in Maiduguri metropolis. Their main targets include Sallah praying ground, markets and other public places by using vehicles such as Volkswagen Golf, Pick-up vans, Keke NAPEP, Motorcycles and bicycles."
The military added: "In view of this, all vehicular movement within the Maiduguri city is banned from Monday, 28th - Wednesday, 30th July, 2014. Members of the general public are advised to perform their Eid-el-Fitri prayer at prayer grounds nearest to their residences. While necessary security measures are being put in place, people are requested to comply fully with this ban as defaulters will be severely sanctioned."
The members of the public have also been "requested to report any suspicious movement of persons or vehicles to the nearest security agencies."
Meanwhile, the picture of the kind of security measures to be expected began to show on Saturday evening as many soldiers took to the major roads screening vehicles.
Also, the Inspector-General of Police, IGP, Mohammed Abubakar, has ordered effective and extensive deployment of officers and men of the Nigeria Police Force and other special operatives as well as all necessary logistics to all nooks and crannies of the country.
Abubakar, in a directive issued to all Commands and Formations of the Force, ordered Command Commissioners of Police and other field Commanders across the country to ensure that no stone was left unturned in making sure that adequate security is provided in their various areas of jurisdiction. The Police IG, who gave this directive, in a statement signed by the Force Spokesperson, Assistant Commissioner of Police Frank Mba, stressed that maximum attention should be paid to critical public places and other points prone to enemy attack. He also ordered the Command Commissioners of Police to retool their security infrastructure in line with their local security realities, and personally supervise the special security deployment and ensure a 24-hour surveillance of their respective areas of operations.
The Police boss, while congratulating the Muslim Umma, enjoined them and other citizens to maintain utmost vigilance and courageously continue to support the security agencies in their prayers and provide useful information towards preventing and unearthing crimes and their authors. The National Information Centre (NIC), while commending the joint security efforts, said in a statement that the 2,800-member security force by the four countries was dedicated to the fight against terrorism in the West African sub-region.
"It is in this light of this that the government welcomes the recent decision by the Defence Ministers from Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad and Niger in expediting the creation of a 2800 member regional security force to support the fight against terrorism. These states recognise that Africa has increasingly become a new battleground for terrorism and radical extremism," it added.
The NIC noted that events in Nigeria have demonstrated the serious risk posed by Boko-Haram insurgents nationally, regionally and internationally and the action needed to confront and defeat the group. As the military and other security agencies take precautionary measures across the country and prepare for the lock-down of Maiduguri during the festive period, President Goodluck Jonathan has called on all Nigerians to throw their weights behind them in their concerted efforts at prosecuting the war against terrorism to a successful conclusion.
He made this call in his message to the nation on the occasion of this year's Eid-el-Fitri celebration. He assured all Nigerians that his administration was totally committed to winning the war against terrorism, "putting the scourge of terrorism and insecurity rapidly behind us and giving the fullest possible attention to the urgent task of improving the living conditions of our people in all parts of the country."
He said his administration could not and would not be deterred from its goal of positively transforming the nation into a strong, united, progressive, stable, secure and prosperous nation in which all citizens would live in peace in spite of their immense diversities.
"Although the observance of the Holy Month was sadly tainted in parts of the country with the continuing atrocities of extremists and terrorists in our midst, I urge all patriotic Nigerians to remain strong and resolute in defence of freedom, unity, law and order, peace, security and progress of the nation. "I feel the pains and anguish of all our compatriots who have experienced the harrowing impact of terrorism unleashed on them by brainwashed and misguided agents of evil and disunity, but we must never throw up our hands in helplessness and despair as the terrorists and purveyors of anarchy want," Jonathan stressed.
Jonathan's call came as the Senate President David Mark, who lamented the unabating security challenges the country is facing at the moment, called for collective action of all citizens against the terrorists to end the menace.
Senator Mark, in a goodwill message, congratulated the Muslims for the successful completion of the fasting and prayer, which he said the nation most desires at this trying times. According to him, " the prevailing situation does not call for blame game but a collective action of all citizens against the terrorists. We should have confidence on our security operatives and encourage them to do more.
"The unfolding scenario clearly indicates that the terrorists have declared open war on every body and there seems to be no safe heaven any more. This is a challenge we must unite to tackle.
"One way out of this quagmire is to have a common approach against terrorists irrespective of political, ethnic or religious affiliation. What is paramount now is our collective survival as a people and nation. This is our fatherland. We have a collective responsibility to protect our common destiny".
Mark also lamented that the over 200 Chibok secondary schoolgirls abducted by the dreaded Boko Haram more than 100 days ago were still held in captivity by their captors . He, however, assured :" I trust that all the strategies and contacts being done by the Federal Government couple with international cooperation would yield the required dividends and free our girls alive soon."
In his own Sallah message, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, urged Muslims in the country to use the period of the Eid-el-Fitri to reflect on their spiritual lives as individuals and how they can contribute more meaningfully towards the unity, stability and progress of Nigeria. Tambuwal also advised Nigerians to be conscious of their health by strictly adhering to instructions issued by health professionals, saying the outbreak of Ebola virus in neighbouring countries is a source for concern in our country.
In the message, which was issued by his Special Adviser on Media and Public Affairs, Malam Imam Imam, Tambuwal said all Nigerians should be more dedicated to the Nigeria project, adding that with unity of purpose, building a virile and strong nation is achievable.
The speaker said despite the serious security challenges confronting the nation, the determination of Nigerians to see their country return to peace has never been in doubt. He said leaders at all levels must close ranks and work for the unity and progress of the nation. Tambuwal equally urged all Nigerians to always remember the less-privileged at all times.