Nigeria: How Social Media Was Used to Expose Boko Haram Suspects Who Sneaked Into Kano

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It was an anxious weekend in Hotoro North, Nassarawa Local Government Area, Kano State, over a military operation leading to arrests of some residents of Filin Lazio area, over allegations of connection with Boko Haram insurgents.

The military operation, held Saturday night, targeted a house newly moved-in by occupants said to be originally from Borno State. An official statement on Sunday confirmed the arrest of 13 suspects during the raid.

Hotoro was previously an epicentre for insurgents' activities in the state, before the terrorists were flushed out by concerted efforts of security forces and residents.

Members of Boko Haram sleeper cells in the area typically attacked security men and churchgoers in drive-by attacks between 2011 and 2013, when they were largely decimated.

The weekend raid, according to a resident of the area, Malam Muhammed Amadi was conducted without drawing much attention.

He explained that the army arrived at the suspect's residence around 9:15 pm where they surrounded the residence and whisked away some members of the household.

He added that those arrested didn't resist the arrest and as such not a single gun was fired during the raid.

A source in the area told Daily Trust that the suspected residence has been a centre of concern to many residents as it has become a joint for a lot of migrants from the North-East, especially Borno State, who have gradually flooded the area recently.

"The flamboyant lifestyle of the people and their peculiarity has raised serious concerns among residents and I believe the arrest made was an outcome of these raised concerns.

"I have heard stories that the suspects were arrested in a mosque, this is just a speculation as they were arrested in a house, not in a mosque," the source revealed.

Unease among residents

Daily Trust investigations revealed that there was a silent campaign on social media platforms intimating the general public on the influx of people from North-East and how they have been acquiring and building houses in some areas along the Eastern Bye-pass, Mariri, Danladi Na Sidi among other areas.

It was also revealed that this silent campaign awakened many them to be on the alert of the activities of these people.

According to Malam Sule Wakili, the eastern bye-pass was heavily inhabited by people from the north east who have now settled in Kano.

He explained that for about two years, people from the Maiduguri axis have been acquiring and building houses in the areas. This he said has raised a lot of concern even though they legally obtain the land to erect their houses.

Similarly, the silent campaign against the massive exodus of Maiduguri people and their concentration at a particular axis has made residents to be very vigilant on their activities as well as their movement.

Aliyu Garba Hakimi is a resident of the area and according to him, he had received the warning signal on various platforms on social media.

According to him, he was not aware of what has triggered the campaign until he noticed the strange presence of many people from Borno around the area.

"Though they are never hostile to anyone but their reserved nature and their introverted attitudes became a source of concern to many of us. Indeed the campaign that was started by an anonymous individual got the attention of many people and as such people became very vigilant," he said.

Army confirms raid, sues for calm

The Nigerian Army has asked residents of Kano not to panic following the arrest of the 13 suspected Boko Haram terrorists by troops of 3 Brigade of the army.

The army spokesman, Brig.-Gen. Mohammed Yerima, in a statement allayed fears of the residents, saying there was no cause for panic.

"The general public, especially residents of Filin Lazio Hotoro, are enjoined to go about their lawful businesses as security forces are on top of the situation.

"The Nigerian Army wishes to use this medium to appeal to the peace-loving people of Kano State to maintain a high level of vigilance and continue to report suspected movement of strange individuals or groups in their environment to the relevant security agencies for prompt action," Yerima said.

He noted that the ongoing operation was predicated on the need to apprehend criminals who might want to hibernate in any part of Kano State.

Orlu deserted as troops launch manhunt for IPOB members

Orlu, the commercial and social centre of Orlu Local Government Area of Imo has been deserted following a massive manhunt for members of Eastern Security Network (ESN), the militant wing of the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB), which has been waging a relentless war against security men.

The group is said to be behind the spate of attacks on military and police formations, including public institutions in the South-East and South-South states.

The latest of such moves was the foiled attempt on the Orlu Divisional Police Headquarters, on Thursday, in which 11 of ESN members met their waterloo.

Our correspondent gathered that the heavy police presence in the commercial city has forced many residents indoors as fear of indiscriminate arrests heightened.

Residents are also afraid of being caught up in an eventual gun duel between security men and the "unknown gunmen".

Orlu has been in the news since late last year when some suspected members of ESN attacked and killed some soldiers. In response, the state government ordered a crackdown on the group.

It was also gathered that most of the residents, especially those in the city centre did not go to church on Sunday as security remained tight.

One of the residents, who spoke on phone to our correspondent painted a picture of a city enveloped by darkness.

According to her, "Orlu, as I am speaking to you, is deserted. You can hear the drop of a pin in once boisterous town. Nobody wants to die of a stray bullet.

"My family and I did our quiet prayers at home even though the home is not altogether safe."

A security source told our correspondent that they have been mandated to sweep out members of the militant group.

Police station set ablaze in Abia

In Abia State, hoodlums suspected to be affiliated with the proscribed IPOB yesterday razed down Ubani Police station, along Umuahia-Uzuakoli-Akara road, in Bende Local Government Area.

The police station, which was established to serve the Ubani International Market and a private housing estate along the road, was attacked by the arsonist in the early hours of Sunday.

Daily Trust gathered that the station is no longer in use by the police as they have relocated inside the TradeMoore Housing Estate.

This is the latest attack on a police facility since the Eastern Security Network (ESN), the armed wing of the outlawed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), launched its campaign of violence earlier in the year.

The burning of the station is coming about three weeks after Uzuakoli Police station and Nkporo Police station in Bende and Ohafia LGAs were respectively attacked by unknown persons.

Meanwhile, there was a heavy military presence in Umuahia yesterday, as military trucks were seen patrolling Library Avenue towards the Government House.

Buhari warns against attacks on security formations

President Muhammadu Buhari on Sunday warned against attacks on police and military formations in the southeast.

Buhari, in a statement by his spokesman, Garba Shehu, condoled with all who lost family members due to what he described as the "madness" going on in parts of the country.

The Eastern Security Network (ESN), the militant wing of the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB), is suspected to be behind the spate of attacks on military and police formations in the southeast.

Buhari called on all local leaders to talk to their youths and warn them against being used to incite and foment violence.

The president asked: "If we attack institutions guarding us, who will protect us in future emergencies?"

Buhari again announced a ban on traditional Sallah homage to him by religious, community and political leaders.

He encouraged such leaders to be content with modest celebrations at home in view of the COVID-19 pandemic as was the case last year.

The statement titled 'President Buhari to Mark Eid in the Villa, Plans Modest Celebration at Home', read: "As Muslims in Nigeria join others globally in preparations towards Eid Al-Fitr, a day that is celebrated to mark the end of Ramadan, the month of fasting, President Buhari directs that all celebrations be limited due to the global Coronavirus crisis.

"To this effect, the President, First Family, his personal aides, members of cabinet and Service Chiefs who choose to remain in Abuja will congregate in full compliance with COVID-19 protocols at the forecourt of the Presidential Villa to observe the Eid prayers. Time fixed for the prayer is 9:00am.

"President Buhari specially thanks the Ulama (Islamic Clerics) and all other religious (Muslim, Christian) leaders who continue to pray for the wellbeing of the nation and its people."

Daura, Bauchi emirs cancel Sallah durbar

In the face of the heightened security apprehension, the Emir of Daura in Katsina State, Dr. Umar Faruk Umar and that of Bauchi, Alhaji Rilwan Adamu, have suspended the customary durbar to celebrate the Sallah holiday.

The Emir of Daura communicated the suspension of the durbar in a circular dated May 6, 2021, addressed to the district heads of the emirate, signed by Danejin Daura, Alhaji Abdulmimini Sahihu and obtained by Daily Trust.

"The emir instructed me to inform you that, due to the insecurity in the country, kidnappings for ransom and other threats to national instability, the usual Sallah Durbar will not hold this Eid-el-Fitr.

"Instead, the focus will be on performing special prayers on the Sallah day as soon as the Eid prayers are performed," the circular read in part.

It added that the emir has instructed the district heads to conduct the Eid prayers with the people in their domain and offer special prayers for lasting peace in the country immediately after the Eid prayer.

"You are by this notice to inform all the imams to pray for President Muhammadu Buhari (Bayajida II) and other leaders for protection from all evils of the enemies of progress of this country, its stability and its corporate existence," the circular added.

The emir then directed that he did not want any of the district heads to visit him on the Sallah day but rather wanted them to focus on ensuring the success of the directives.

The Emir of Bauchi, on his part, announced the ban on durbar before, during and after the Eid-el-Fitr Sallah ceremonies, to safeguard the people from the current security challenges.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the horse durbar by royal horsemen, locally known as "Hawan daushe", is held as a key feature of the Eid-el-Fitr Sallah celebrations, attracting huge crowds into the city of Bauchi.

Alhaji Babangida Jahun, the Information officer of the emirate, who announced the ban in a statement made available to the NAN, on Sunday, in Bauchi, added that the ban covered the entire emirate council, including its districts, villages and hamlets.

"The annual horse-riding known as daushe is banned therefore all district, village heads and the general public should take note. Eid prayers will commence at 9:00 am in the state capital," he said.

Jahun enjoined the general public to comply fully with the ban order and cautioned parents and traditional title holders to ensure full compliance by their wards.

The spokesman also prayed for successful Eid-el Fitr Sallah celebrations.

By Muideen Olaniyi & Idowu Isamotu (Abuja), Ibrahim M. Giginyu (Kano), Jude Owuamanam (Owerri), Linus Effiong, (Umuahia) & Tijjani Ibrahim (Katsina)

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