3 August 2014

Nigeria: Military Uncovers B'haram's Plan to Invade N'central, N'west States

Abuja — President Goodluck Jonathan on Saturday assured Nigerians of his administration's efforts to strengthen the police and armed forces to ensure that "rascals" like Boko Haram terrorists do not embarrass the nation again.

This is as intelligence reports have revealed plans by the terrorist group to over run some states in North Central and North Western Nigeria.

Jonathan gave the assurance during a courtesy call on the Ooni of Ife, Oba Okunuade Sijuwade, at his palace in Ile-Ife, Osun State, before proceeding to Osogbo for a campaign rally of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

Jonathan pointed out that his government would achieve more development goals without the menace of terrorism, hence his commitment to ensuring that Boko Haram does not succeed with its criminality.

His words: "There are certain things we should have done as a government, but because of the situation in the country, we have not been able to do much of them.

"The kind of embarrassment we are receiving now will never continue in this country.

"We want to build a very strong army, the Nigeria police and the Navy and the Air Force so that these rascals called Boko Haram will never stop us because we will surely rout Boko Haram. We are very committed. In the next few months no criminals will ever embarrass us again."

Responding to requests of heavier federal presence made by the Ooni, the President said in addition to ongoing infrastructure works like rail and roads, much more would be done with if the PDP governorship candidate in this week's election, Iyiola Omisore, is elected.

According to Jonathan: "We believe that with Omisore as governor of Osun State leading the team here, working with us at the federal level, we will be able to address some of the requests you made.

"We promise you that the PDP government will continue to meet the expectations of the people."

The President said he was at the palace to also formally present Omisore to the Ooni as the PDP candidate and prayed that having been advised to stay action on his ambition twice in the past by the monarch, it would just be God's time to make him the Osun governor.

He described Omisore as a "fantastic material" for the governorship of the state as result of being humble, service to the people at both state and federal levels and having paid his dues in the politics.

The President noted that although Osun has been a PDP state, the party was denied governorship in the past due to court judgment, but hoped that would be reversed during forthcoming election, even as he declared that "if the court cheated us then, this election will demonstrate that. We believe we will win this election."

In his address read out by his son, Aderemi, the Sijuade recalled having discussed how to solve national security problems with late President Umaru Yar'Adua, but who died prematurely.

He pointed out that the problems being faced by Nigeria today "are man-made and they are not from God Almighty.

"So, I will still appeal to the senior traditional rulers across the country to join hands together with the government to make sure that we have permanent peace and that Boko Haram insurgency and other activities militating against our national growth can become things of the past."

He also recalled advising Omisore to shelve his governorship ambition twice several years ago for Bisi Akande and Olagunsoye Oyinlola, to which the now PDP candidate always responded with "God's time is the best".

The Ooni made sundry requests for his kingdom, Osun State and the Yoruba race, including upgrading of the Ibadan airport, better attention to cocoa production, railway link through Owo; and generally better federal presence in the region.

"Our people in the South West in general and Osun State in particular are yearning to have a better feel of Federal Government presence in the key areas of your transformation agenda", Sijuade added.

President Jonathan also visited the Ataoja of Osogbo, Oba Jimoh Oyetunji (Laraooye II), from who he sought support for Omisore's victory at the polls.

Oba Oyetunji prayed for the President and requested from him a ministerial for Osogbo people "when you return in 2015".

In the President's delegation were Deputy Speaker Emeka Ihedioha; Governor Gabriel Suswam; PDP Chairman, Adamu Mu'azu; BoT Chairman, Tony Anenih; Police Affairs Minister, Jelili Adesina.

Other cabinet members included Olajumoke Akinjide, Musiliu Obanikoro; Minister of State for Works; Ekiti governor-elect, Ayo Fayose; PDP chieftains; Femi Fani-Kayode, Teslim Folarin, and senior government officials.

Meanwhile, Hijab wearing female Muslims have become objects of fear in Nigeria, as the scare over the emerging trend of female suicide bombers continue to spread across the country.

The fear has also been extended to street hawkers and commercial vehicles, as they are unsure of who could be the next suicide bomber in female claddings.

The situation has been aggravated by the reported rescue and arrest, less than one week ago, of a 10-year-old with explosives strapped around her body in Katisna State.

Also, states like Kogi, Nasarawa, Niger, Kano and Kaduna States have been penciled down for carefully intensified bombings in choice locations that would result in high casualty figures.

But the Defence Headquarters has waved the reports aside, vowing that the Nigerian military would not relinquish any part of the country to any sect as it has the capacity and would do everything possible to secure the country's territory.

Only on Wednesday, 10-year-old Hadiza Musa was discovered to have been strapped with an explosive belt in Katsina State in the company of her 18-year-old sister, Zainab Musa, and a male, Iliya Dahiru, along Zaria Road in Katsina.

This was after four female teens blew themselves off in Kano and Kaduna States, killing people and injuring many others.

A cross section of Nigerians in separate interviews expressed worry that since members of deadly sect, Boko Haram have resorted to use of female teens as suicide bombers, some of them, including young boys, could be deployed as unsuspecting street hawkers only to launch attack on innocent people in busy areas.

Moses Ifeanyi told Sunday Independent in Abuja how he alighted from a bus with many young dressed women in Muslim hijab during the Sallah for fear of suicide bombers.

"I first boarded El-Rufai Bus from Berger to Nyanya, and the man sitting close to me who apparently was from the market, had cartoons taped together, placed by him. I came down, only to enter another one with many Muslim young girls dressed in hijab.

"I came down again to board a more expensive taxi because I was afraid they may be suicide bombers," he said.

Another resident, Lekan Ismail, said each time he approached a busy place with many street hawkers, especially women adorning hijab, he was always apprehensive.

"Young female girls agreeing to be suicide bombers is very worrisome. Ordinary, if you see a 10-year-old girl, you would want to assist her; but now, I am very weary, I avoid them completely, especially anyone wearing hijab, you never can't tell," he noted.

Director, Army Information, Brigadier General Olajide Oleyele, who described the use of young females as suicide bombers as an evolving trend in the terror tactics, told Sunday Independent that women should be prepared to be searched.

"Again, by our rule of engagement, male security officers are not allowed to search females but we are developing counter-terrorsim strategy to deal with that. You will begin to see increased female security personnel on our roads and other places," he said.

Coordinator of the National Information Centre, Mike Omeri, appealed to state and local authorities to stamp out hawking in order to minimise or prevent intending suicide bombers from pretending as hawkers to carry out their nefarious acts.

"We equally want to appeal to parents and local government authorities to help in stamping out hawking on our streets, particularly hawking where minors are involved, if possible keep off the streets so that when you see them on the streets, it will be easier to deal with them," he stated.

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