Security agencies, including the Department of State Service (DSS), have identified an Islamic State in West Africa (ISWA) network operating within some areas in North Central and South South geopolitical zones as mastermind of recent killings in the country.
According to them, the ISWA terror group use foreign terrorists and recruit young men to fight and kill innocent Nigerians ostensibly to exacerbate tensions along the county’s ethnic, religious and regional fault lines.
This, LEADERSHIP gathered, is contained in a report submitted to President Muhammadu Buhari by the security agencies.
Reliable sources in the presidency told our correspondent that this discovery was made following the arrest of several suspected attackers made up of Fulani herdsmen, government-sponsored militias, militants and other miscreants in Benue Sate.
They said among those in custody were many who spoke none of the languages native to Nigeria but the French language.
This is the first time security officials have confirmed that members of the Islamic State in West Africa are operating as a unit in Nigeria and the level of their penetration in the country.
One of the sources revealed that a good number of the Islamic State terrorists have been arrested not only in the Benue valley but significantly in several towns in Edo State, specifically in Akoko-Edo, Okpella and Benin as well as in Okene, Kogi State.
The presidency source who did not want his name in print said, “It is understood that the sect which has members in different parts of the country concentrates on recruiting young men to fight for the Islamic State in West Africa by unleashing the cold-blooded murder of innocent citizens.
“There was intelligence that they had planned several attacks here, before and during Christmas and the New Year. Their bombing targets included fuel depots, foreign missions and police and military establishments. Their
network is very wide.
“But so much was achieved by the DSS which had made a significant number of arrests in the last two months that helped to preempt those attacks. This helped to save Nigeria from the spate of major terrorist attacks witnessed elsewhere that were syndicated by ISIS worldwide.”
The reports said to have been submitted to the president also revealed that security officials now fear an influx of other ISIS members into many parts of the country.
“We are learning more and more about this
complex and sophisticated network. This is the main reason why the secret service is not parading those suspects so far arrested. It has become clear to us by now that the challenge facing this country is a serious one,” the source added.
When contacted, presidential spokesman, Mallam Garba Shehu, confirmed that President Buhari had been receiving what he described as “report upon report on the situation in Benue and other states”.
He added that though the DSS has recorded a lot of success lately, he had “not been briefed on any of those reports”.
Arms-laden Helicopter Lands In Taraba, Says State Govt
Meanwhile, there is palpable tension in Taraba State following an alarm raised by the state government that an helicopter suspected to be loaded with arms and ammunition has landed in Jibu, a village located along River Benue, somewhere close to Ibi local government area of the state.
Confirming this, the senior Special assistant to the state governor on media and publicity, Bala Dan Abu who spoke to LEADERSHIP on telephone yesterday in Jalingo explained that the arms and ammunition are allegedly meant for a militia group that may be planning an attack on some villages in the state.
He said that this system of arms delivery also happened prior to the tragic attacks in Agatu in Benue State last year,
which led to the killings in the community.
“This system of arms delivery happened in Benue State last year and nothing was done to trace and arrest the owners of the helicopter”, he said, adding that another planned militia attacks may be in the offing.
Abu called on sons and daughters of the state to be security conscious, noting that the administration of Governor Darius Ishaku would not hesitate to crush anybody that stands against efforts to bring lasting peace to the state.
When contacted, the Taraba State Police Public Relations Officer, ASP David Misal, told LEADERSHIP on telephone that the State Command has no such information.
“The command is not aware of an helicopter suspected to be loaded with arms and ammunition that landed in a place called Jibu,” he said.
JNI Chides CAN Over Hate Speeches
Meanwhile, Jama’atu Nasril Islam (JNI) has described as unfortunate hate speeches being made by some Christian leaders, saying such leaders should note that their utterances are becoming really provocative and outlandish.
Noting that some Christian leaders promote hate speeches such as “if you see a Fulani man kill him, crush them and kill them”, JNI said the repercussion of such remarks could be better imagined.
It stated: “In addition, Bishop Kukah’s hate speech against Muslims in Nigeria is legendary, as hardly would opportunity avail itself for him to take without smearing Islam and Muslims in Nigeria.
“CAN and other Christian leaders such as Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah, Pastor Oyedepo, Suleiman and recently El Buba should not take Nigerian Muslim’s patience for foolishness, as their speeches are becoming really provocative and outlandish. Therefore CAN should desist from making provocative statements in the midst of serious issues bedeviling the nation”.
JNI urged the government to be proactive on these security matters, even as it said the reoccurrence of security upheavals such as kidnappings, armed robberies, rising bombs/attacks of Boko Haram insurgents and ethnic violence in Nigeria is alarming and there is urgent need for redress as citizens are becoming more and more agitated.
It continued: “Government should take the bull by the horn by prosecuting promoters of hate speeches in Nigeria,if not one day it will become a norm that cannot be challenged and one of the chief mongers of the hate speech is CAN as represented by Rev. Asake.
“To put the record straight, JNI condemns killings of innocent souls wherever they happen and whoever is involved. JNI also condemns the generalization of criminals as representatives of the whole, thus leading to unjust stereotyping and name-calling. We condemn all
criminals, whoever they are and wherever they come from. A criminal should be treated as a criminal regardless of his/her ethnicity and/or religious affiliation”.
ALGON Backs Kogi Gov On Establishment Cattle Colony
Meanwhile, the Association of Local Government of Nigeria (ALGON) in Kogi State has declared support for the decision by the state governor, Alhaji Yahaya Bello, to accept the establishment of Cattle Colonies in the state.
In a communiqué issued by the 21 local government Administrators in Lokoja, ALGON urged the people of the state to resist being instigated by politicians to reject what is of social and economic benefits to the people of the state.
The Administrators said they are the real representatives of the grassroots people.
The communiqué noted: “We, the Administrators of all the 21 Local Government Areas of Kogi State, thereby state unequivocally that we stand by all the words and actions taken on our behalf by our leader, Governor Yahaya Bello, as it relates to the establishment of Fulani and cattle colonies in Kogi State.
“We are in full support of the move to accommodate these wonderful people in our lands, just as we have done for several decades. As representatives of the people at the Grassroots and lovers of peace, progress and unity, we are more than willing to provide all the resources we can to make their stay and that of their cattle, comfortable and profitable.
“Unlike some people, who have since lost the legitimacy and respect of their voters and have turned Abuja to their home, we recognise that this is the time to demonstrate both common sense and empathy for our fellow human beings. The Fulani People are some of the most misunderstood and isolated people on the planet; this however does not make them naturally dangerous. Yes, our people have at various times had bloody disagreements with some of them.
“However, we are not so cold-hearted not to take advantage of an opportunity to heal old wounds and accommodate them at their time of need. Nigeria has over many years played the role of Big Brother in Africa and provided solace, comfort and abode for refugees in war-torn countries. Kogi State is simply playing that same role today.
The local government Administrators continued: “Our humanity, while totally devoid of selfish intent, fortunately comes with great financial and economic benefits. Nigeria consumes billions of dollars of cattle and dairy products yearly. Huge portions of the beef our people eat come from the Fulanis.
“The establishment of the colonies in Kogi State means we get our beef fresher and cheaper. It also gives our people a chance to participate in the value chain, providing potentially thousands of jobs. That makes sense in any way one wishes to look at it.
“Our people know that Governor Yahaya Bello means very well for them and has always prioritised their safety above all else. He is the one who, in less than two years, made Kogi a safe haven for investors, travellers and residents. Kogi State is currently in the middle of a long streak, going back over 10 weeks, where no case of kidnapping or armed robbery has been reported.
“He, working with all the relevant security agencies, has made us safe. He has the assurances and support of the Federal Government in the regard of the establishment of the colonies and we are sure our people will be safe”.
Calling on people of the state, both home and abroad, to shun the campaign of division and hatred as being sponsored by Senator Dino Melaye, the council chiefs said Melaye should be reminded that the Abuja City, from where he is playing the drums of war, used to belong to some people before it was taken for the use of all Nigerians.
The added: “The land he allegedly bought with questionable means and funds used to belong to Nigerians like himself. He should be reminded that even his lovely village of Aiyetoro Gbede plays host to a large population of Fulani people.
“He should also remember that he got his higher institution education, as questionable as that certificate might be, from a university built amongst Fulanis and Hausas. He should be more careful to throw stones in the marketplace.
“It is most unfortunate that those that rode to power on the back of President Muhammadu Buhari’s unfathomable popularity are the ones most resistant to the change he seeks to bring. Senator Melaye has demonstrated yet again that he is the biggest mistake his people have ever made and have promised to never repeat it. In 2019, the hen will surely return to roost.
he meantime, while INEC and illicit funds continue to deny the people their right to recall this disgrace of a senator, we humbly ask that he refrains from speaking on our behalf. His voice might be deep but his reasoning is shallow. We are uninterested in what he has to say and so should every well-meaning Nigerian. To our Fulani Brothers and Sisters, we say ‘Welcome!’ May your stay be fruitful for both we and you”.
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