By Soni Daniel, Regional Editor, North
UNPRECEDENTED security clampdown on Abuja, Nigeria’s seat of power, yesterday took away the glamour and excitement that usually go with Nigeria’s Independence Day celebrations.
Apparently acting on reports that there could be terrorist attacks on the city during Nigeria’s 53rd Anniversary, security agencies mobilised in full force to placate any surprise onslaught on the capital and its environs, as President Goodluck Jonathan and his service chiefs converged on the Presidential Villa for a small event to commemorate the day.
Determined to prevent any attack, the Nigerian security establishments deployed their men and equipment to all nooks and crannies of the town but ended up scarring the residents in the process.
Vanguard investigations showed that the security agencies had taken over the town just before midnight, placing its men, tanks and Armoured Personnel Carriers and Anti-bomb vehicles at strategic locations.
Major roads leading to and out of Abuja were manned by the security men, who carried out stop-and-search operation.
All routes to the Presidential Villa were also monitored by soldiers, who frisked motorists and pedestrians, who made use of the roads.
One of the stop-and-search points was erected at the Jessie Jackson by Yakubu Gowon Crescent Junction in Asokoro District and manned by stern-looking soldiers. While some of the soldiers searched vehicles a dozen others watched from a stationary pick-up truck decked in the Nigerian Army colours.
An APC was also stationed near the Bayelsa House, along Shehu Shagari Way, where Niger Delta militants detonated several bombs and killing no fewer than ten and injuring many others on October 1, 2010.
Many other checkpoints were also put up by soldiers and riot policemen opposite the National Mosque and close to the Julius Berger Bridge, Life Camp and Kubwa. But unlike other times, the security men were friendly with residents and did not molest or harass anyone.