Lawmakers have been notified of a possible attack by Boko Haram insurgents on the National Assembly complex and other public buildings in Abuja, The PUNCH has learnt.
Several members of the House of Representatives, on Wednesday, confirmed to our correspondent that they had been notified of the imminent attack by the terrorist group.
One of them, who is from a state in the South-West, said his presence would henceforth be limited on the premises.
“That is the security alert I saw today. I’m already moving out of here. I’ll only be around when there is a major reason to do so. Nowhere is safe in the country anymore,” he said.
Already the notice on the impending attack has been made available to the lawmakers.
The notice, a copy of which our correspondent obtained, was sent to the Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, other principal officers and all members of the House.
The ‘security alert’, dated May 4, 2021, was issued by Chairman of the House Committee on Internal Security, National Assembly, Mr Usman Shiddi.
It was titled ‘Re: planned insurgent attacks on VIP locations, government facilities and assets in Abuja.’
The alert read, “I refer to the above subject of which a copy of the intelligence report from the Force Intelligence Bureau of the Nigeria Police Force in the National Assembly Complex has been made available to my office.
“The report indicates planned insurgent attacks by some elements of Boko Haram on some VIP locations, government facilities and assets in Abuja, including the National Assembly complex.
“In view of the above intelligence, I have considered it paramount to advise that all members should, henceforth, use the presidential gate for ingress and egress.
“This is to avoid the unforeseen congestions that are sometimes encountered at the main gates, since such congestions could easily be the targets for these insurgent elements.
“Security agencies are, however, actively on top of the issue to unravel and to contain the intended menace. Accept the assurances of my highest regards, please.”
Security has been beefed up in and around the complex since Thursday last week.
For the first time, security operatives on that day checked vehicles entering the premises, causing traffic congestion especially at the third (and last) gate, a process that has continued till date.
Before now, the security operatives were only after the identities of drivers and passengers to confirm that they were staff members, legislative aides, journalists or persons working in private businesses in the complex.
Our correspondent observed that soldiers joined the regular sergeants-at-arms and men of the Nigeria Police Force, Department of State Services, Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps and the Federal Road Safety Corps that manned the gates.
The Chairman of the Committee on Rules and Business, House of Representatives, Abubakar Fulata, confirmed the development in plenary.
The Speaker called on Chairman of the House Committee on Treaties, Protocols and Agreements, Nicholas Ossia, to lay the report on the ‘Bill for an Act to Repeal Treaties (Making Procedure, Etc.) Act, Cap. T20 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004, and Enact Treaties (Making Procedure) Bill.’
Fulata, however, notified the Speaker that Ossai was not in the chamber, saying several lawmakers were still stuck in the traffic because of the security checks.
“It is very difficult today to get in, so a lot of members are stranded at the gate because of the very serious check-in process that the security men are conducting. A lot of members are there stranded at the gate,” Fulata said.
Gbajabiamila had asked, “For what reason? Stranded for what?”
Fulata had said, “This morning, it is very difficult to come in. It has been very difficult to come in today. They are doing security checks.”
Recall that the Governor of Niger State, Sani Bello, had on April 26, 2021, raised the alarm over Boko Haram terrorists taking over a part of the state, hoisting their flag in Kaure village from where they had made incursions into more than 50 villages.
Bello said Abuja was not safe, with Boko Haram’s presence in Kaure – a two- hour journey from the Federal Capital Territory.
He said, “I am confirming that there are Boko Haram elements here in Niger State. Here in Kaure, I am confirming that they have hoisted their flags here.”
Same day, Gbajabiamila, had met with the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), at the Presidential Villa, in company with the Majority Leader, Alhassan Ado-Doguwa.
The House the next day held a long executive (closed-door) session to discuss the rising spate of insecurity across Nigeria, calling on Buhari to declare a state of emergency on security.
At the secret session that lasted over three hours, the lawmakers unanimously adopted a series of resolutions, one of which was that “the Federal Government should ensure the protection of national infrastructure and assets, particularly the Shiroro and Kainji Dams in Niger State.”