The heavy presence of security personnel around the Kaduna Prison was aimed at protecting the prison from a possible attack by members of the Boko Haram sect, according to an intelligence report exclusively revealed to LEADERSHIP.
The report revealed that the sect members were planning to unleash terror on the prison situated along Independence Way with a view to freeing some of their jailed members.
Only recently, the comptroller-general of the Nigerian Prisons Service (NPS) was ordered to tighten security around prisons across the country as well as intensify internal surveillance to forestall any ugly incident.
LEADERSHIP check showed that armed soldiers had taken over the Independence Way, with rigorous stop-and-search checks on vehicles moving along the road.
A senior prison officer who spoke with LEADERSHIP in confidence said, “Intelligence report has warned us of a possible attack on this prison by the Boko Haram and, I tell you, we are not sleeping because, on our part, our staff and the army, we are all working hard.
“I cannot tell you when they will attack; we just have to be on security alert to resist their plans. They wanted to attack us two weeks ago, but did not succeed.”
Another top security officer who also spoke with LEADERSHIP confirmed the planned attack. He said, “The plan attack was not on prisons alone, because intelligence report shows that they (Boko Haram) are planning their best to equally attack police and military formations.
“I can tell you that all security agencies are on their toes. Some Boko Haram members are among the people; they live with the people but the people are not helping us out… they are hiding them from us. But we will not relent on our part to rid the state of their activities. The recent bombings in the state were done by them to shift our attention from the main focus.”
LEADERSHIP had last week also exclusively reported that members of the Boko Haram were presently regrouping in Kaduna, with the state capital as their main target.
In that report, a top security officer had said categorically, “We cannot really say where they are (Boko Haram) stationed in Kaduna. But they are in Kaduna and they are trying to attack some few places.
They have interest in attacking some strategic places in Kaduna, but they have not really succeeded. That is why they have been busy planting bombs.”
But in Maiduguri, gunmen suspected to be members of Boko Haram yesterday bombed a kiosk in the Abaganaram ward of the state, injuring one of the soldiers that engaged them in a shootout for over half-an-hour yesterday morning.
The blast, which was heard at over a radius of two kilometers in the Maiduguri metropolis sent visitors and residents scampering for safety.
The injured soldier was rushed to the University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital (UMTH) by the JTF patrol vehicle and admitted at the Accident and Emergency (A&E) and Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of the hospital at 9.35am, while five vehicles and six tricycles were destroyed in the blast.
Spokesman of the JTF, Lt. Col. Hassan Mohammed, in a signed statement stated: “At about 7.30 this morning, (yesterday) around the Customs Bridge area of Maiduguri, gunmen suspected
to be members of Boko Haram detonated an improvised explosive device (IED) in a kiosk. The explosion destroyed some cars in the area. However, no life was lost in the incident.”
Mohammed however reminded the public of the “dangers and insecurity implications” of allowing their premises to be used by members of the sect.
“Members of the public are also advised to report any threat to public property to security agents,” it said, adding that “some group of hoodlums claiming to be members of the sect have engaged in the destruction of public property, as two schools have been burnt within the metropolis in few days.”
Mohammed who advised the school authorities to provide early information to the security agents, assured that severe actions will be taken against any hoodlum caught in the act.
It was learnt that the four affected schools are Abaganaram, Budum, and Gomari Costain primary schools, thirty-one classrooms and two stores were destroyed within two weeks.
Meanwhile, in the face of the tense security situation in Suleja, Niger State, there was a mild bomb scare drama at the popular IBB Market located at the heart of the town.
LEADERSHIP gathered that some traders on their way to the market, yesterday morning discovered a bag at the gate of the market and raised an alarm on suspecting that a bomb was planted inside it.
The traders, who still bore scares of the incessant bomb blasts which had previously rocked the market avoided entering into the market and immediately called the attention of the Joint Task Force.
However, upon the arrival of the JTF, which was also hesitant to tamper with the bag at that point, a woman who is a trader at the market emerged to say it was her bag and that she left it there on Tuesday when the JTF men hurried them out of the market.
The divisional police officer in charge of Suleja, Desmond Ogejin, a CSP, confirmed to journalists that the alarm was a false one. “There was no bomb in the bag as the owner of the bag had laid claim to the bag that the people were thinking contained bomb,” he said.
Meanwhile, the violent activities of Boko Haram in northern Nigeria have been traced to the crisis in Libya and al-Qaeda in North Africa.
This was disclosed by the chief of defence staff, Air Chief Marshall Oluseyi Petinrin, at a meeting of the committee of the Chiefs of Defence Staff of five Economic Community Of West African States (ECOWAS) member states which held in Abuja, recently.
Petinrin, who was represented by chief of naval staff Vice-Admiral Ola Sa’eed Ibrahim, said there was mounting evidence that Boko Haram received training and support from Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and are using such knowledge garnered to wreak havocs in Nigeria.
He noted that piracy and maritime banditry in the Gulf of Guinea remained a serious concern with adverse implications on the socio-economic and political development of the region.
“Threats to national and regional peace and security were also deeply rooted in political and socio-economic factors, hence the urgent need to vigorously address them in order to facilitate regional development as envisaged in the ECOWAS Charter,” he said.
3 Africa terror groups may collaborate
The top United States (US) commander for Africa says he is increasingly concerned about the likelihood that terrorist groups in Somalia, North Africa and Nigeria want to coordinate their training, funding and terror activities.
The Associated Press (AP) also quoted General Carter Ham as informing Congress yesterday that terror leaders from al-Shabab, al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb and Boko Haram in Nigeria want to more closely synchronize their efforts. He says the three groups are the top three threats in that region, and their collaboration would present a real challenge to the U.S.
He also says that announcement earlier this month of al-Qaida's formal alliance with al-Shabab suggests that the Somalia-based insurgency has been weakened and is looking for greater international support. The two groups have been working together for several years.