The police have mobilised to foil plans by terrorists to attack the southern part of the country sequel to the infiltration of the region by suspected Boko Haram and Islamic State West Africa Province terrorists.
As part of the strategies to prevent terrorists’ attacks, the police chiefs in Lagos met on Monday just as the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps warned Nigerians against employing fleeing terrorists.
Also, it was gathered that police and the Department of State Services had deployed detectives to fish out fleeing terrorists in the South.
This followed the arrest of a suspected Boko Haram commander working as a security guard at a residential building in the Ijaiye area of Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, on Saturday.
The arrest of the Boko Haram commander has triggered a flurry of emergency security meetings by law enforcement agencies in Lagos and Ogun states, and apprehension among residents in the southern part of the country.
The development is coming on the heels of the July 5 attack on the Kuje Medium Security Custodial Centre, Abuja, where 69 Boko Haram commanders were freed by the Islamic State West Africa Province.
Also, suspected terrorists attacked the Presidential Guards Brigade troops at Bwari-Kubwa road, Abuja, in which a captain, lieutenant and six soldiers were killed and others wounded.
A leaked memo from the NSCDC indicating that Boko Haram and ISWAP terrorists were amassing dangerous weapons for massive attacks on Katsina, Lagos, the Federal Capital Territory, Kaduna, and Zamfara States, created fear in Abuja and anxiety across the country.
The PUNCH learnt that suspected terrorist arrived in Abeokuta from Katsina, took up a security job at Ijaye, while gathering intelligence for an attack.
Security sources said he moved to Abeokuta to set up a cell for kidnapping and terror attacks.
But acting on intelligence, the DSS operatives apprehended him.
A source said, ‘’It was not an easy ride. Intelligence and the grace of God were sufficient for the operatives. There are still many of them (terrorists) around, but we are on top of our game.”
Lagos CP, area, tactical commanders hold emergency meeting, call for vigilance
In preparation for the security challenge, the Lagos Commissioner of Police, Abiodun Alabi, on Monday, held a security meeting with all area, squadron and Tactical Commanders in the state.
The Public Relations Officer of the Lagos State Police Command, Benjamin Hundeyin, made this known via a tweet on Monday.
Sharing photos from the meeting, Hundeyin noted that the security and safety of the residents remained a priority for the police. He also urged Lagosians to remain vigilant and report suspicious activities to security agencies.
Hundeyin tweeted, “ONGOING: CP Abiodun Alabi, fdc meeting with all area, squadron and tactical Commanders in Lagos State. The security and safety of all residents of Lagos State remain a top priority.
“We call on Lagosians to remain vigilant and report anything suspicious to security agencies.”
Hundeyin, during a Twitter Space webinar, also told our correspondent that the command was working with other agencies to prevent terrorists’ attacks in the state.
Responding to a question on the threat, Hundeyin said, “For now the threat level is not alarming. We are not restricting anyone’s movement. And we want people not to relax.
“They should be very vigilant, very watchful because security is everyone’s business. So the moment they sight or spot something out of the ordinary, please inform the nearest security agency so that it can be looked into.”
Twenty-four hours after the arrest of the Boko Haram suspect, the police and DSS authorities in Ogun State planned to hold a crucial security meeting on the development.
The Police Public Relations Officer in the state, Abimbola Oyeyemi disclosed this to one of our correspondents in Abeokuta on Monday .
Oyeyemi said the command had not been properly briefed about the incident but revealed that the state commissioner of police and the director of DSS would meet over the incident.
He said “We have yet to be aware of it, and we are trying to find out. The two organisations (DSS and police) will have a discussion on that and whether it is true or not. We also arrested one of the Kuje prison escapees.”
According to him, the fugitive was arrested in the Sango area of the state, adding that a Boko Haram commander was also arrested in Kara in the Obafemi-Owode local government area of the state in 2014.
The PPRO advised the residents to scrutinize anyone before employing him as a security guard.
“We arrested somebody, who has been convicted and sentenced to death by hanging. He was set free during the #EndSARS protest at white house prison custodial centre in Benin and he ran to Ogun State and started vandalising power installations before his arrest,’’ he noted.
Speaking to The PUNCH on the arrest of the terror suspect in Abeokuta, the Lagos CP explained that when due diligence was followed in the employment of guards, the risks of employing criminals, and terrorists would be limited to the minimum.
He said, “In terms of employing private security guards, of course, there should be a background security check because it would just be like putting a snake in your house and at any time, it might strike you and your household.
“The family background, previous employment and previous employer and many other factors are deemed necessary when it is expedient to have private security personnel working with you.”
The CP also explained that the NSCDC is in charge of licensing and sanctioning of firms and organisations when it comes to the employment of security guards.
The police boss further said that the incident in Ogun State should not be seen as an isolated case because criminals abound everywhere.
He assured that Lagos is safe under his watch because the state police command has been able to nip crime and criminality in the bud since he took over six months ago.
“Criminals are everywhere and we should not isolate any case as special. Meanwhile, in Lagos State under my watch, the incidence of crime and criminality has been drastically reduced and I can tell you, that criminals and terrorists would not be able to penetrate Lagos State because of the tight security network in place,’’ he added.
Responding to inquiries from The PUNCH on Monday, the Force Public Relations Officer, Muyiwa Adejobi, admonished home owners to profile potential security guards or maids before engaging them.
According to him, failure to do this may result in the employment of a dangerous criminal or terrorist.
Adejobi stated, ‘’Every landlord or homeowner should profile any potential housemaid or guard. They need to contact the police or security agency to confirm the status or antecedent of the person. If they don’t check, they may end up employing dangerous elements that may harm them. So we urge landlords to profile their intending workers.’’
Speaking in the same tone, the NSCDC spokesman, Shola Odumosu said Nigerians should be careful about engaging unknown or strange individuals as security guards.
He advised anyone who needs a private security guard to patronize private security companies which are regulated by the corps.
He said, ‘’If you need a guard, approach any registered security company and that is why we have told those who are licensed to display their certificate conspicuously in their offices.
“Once you don’t see that, you know that such a company is not registered. If the one arrested in Ogun was employed by a registered company it would be easy to find out how he got into the company but for somebody who you pick from the street, he can’t be traced.’’
Odumosu added, “People should know that with the level of insecurity in the country, you cannot just bring a stranger into your house as a mai guard. You will be causing more harm to yourself.’’
“The general situation calls for vigilance; it is possible for you to employ anybody who could be an armed robber , or he escaped from Kuje (prison) or he’s an undercover criminal. Whatever situation that warrants you to employ a security guard in your house, due process should be followed,’’ he cautioned.”
The Ogun State Commander of Amotekun Corps , David Akinyemi, in an interview with The PUNCH, disclosed that his men were combing the forests in the state in search of Boko Haram suspects and other criminals.
The Spokesman for the NSCDC Enugu Command, Denny Iwuchukwu, explained that any criminal could disguise to get employed as a guard, adding that the consequences of this are grievous.
He, therefore, advised Nigerians to get security guards from accredited and registered security companies to avoid ‘’the Abeokuta experience.’’
According to him, “The law provides that any person that wants a security guard should contact a registered security guard company. That’s the only way one may be free from employing miscreants and people of questionable character.
“Employing anybody to work as a security guard could be an invitation to more trouble as any criminal can disguise to be a security guard.
“This is the reason why NSCDC is campaigning and advising/warning the public on the dangers of looking for cheap labour while seeking a security guard. The Abeokuta experience has vindicated the NSCDC.’’
The Public Relations Officer of the Ondo command, Mr Daniel Aidamenbor, implored Nigerians to explore the appropriate channels when employing guards in their homes or facility.
Reacting to the widespread employment of undocumented persons as home guards, the Chairman, Lekki Phase II Residents’ Association, Yomi Idowu said the association advised its members to profile their employees.
Idowu said, “The association for the Lekki residents is non-governmental and we have been giving our residents advice that they should register all their security guards with the association so that we can profile the security guards.
“We have also warned them to watch out for the kind of people they bring into their homes as we intend to employ uniformed corporate guards and not mallams.
“We held a meeting just yesterday (Sunday) concerning the Boko Haram leader who worked as a security guard and luckily was arrested in Abeokuta. In the meeting, we agreed to start enforcing that residents must have corporate guards and not unidentified guards.
“We must be able to identify who they employ to guard their homes and only uniformed personnel are allowed to work as corporate guards so they can be properly identified, registered, and documented.”
FRSC declares war on unregistered motorcycles
Meanwhile, the acting Corps Marshal, Dauda Ali-Biu, has declared a nationwide clampdown on motorcyclists who failed to register their bikes with the National Vehicle Identification Scheme.
Ali-Biu issued a directive to the 37 Sector Commanders across the nation to commence with immediate effect the full force enforcement on any motorcycle seen without appropriate registration.
This was contained in a statement signed by the Corps Education Officer, Bisi Kazeem, on Monday, titled, ‘Enhancing national security; Acting Corps Marshal directs sector commanders to commence full enforcement of unregistered motorcycles.’
The statement partly read, “The directive came following the imminent need to comply with the Federal Government’s order on clamping down on this horde of unregistered motorcycles on Nigerian roads.
“The order was necessitated by the state of insecurity and the need to curb it by bringing to a halt the continuous operations of these categories of vehicles without registration on our roads.’’
The FRSC boss ordered his men to liaise with the Boards of Internal Revenue in their respective states to set up a Taskforce in conjunction with the Nigeria Police Force and other security agencies, including Vehicle Inspection Office for effective enforcement of his directive.