BY KINGSLEY OMONOBI, CLIFFORD NDUJIHE, DANIEL IDONOR & CALEB AYANSINA
ABUJA—With 24 hours to Nigeria’s 51st Independence anniversary celebrations, the Federal Government is taking no chances on the security threat posed by Boko Haram sect and Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta, MEND, as the Nigeria Airforce and the Nigeria Police have deployed helicopters to commence air patrols of the Federal Capital Territory while night patrol by the Army, Navy, Airforce and Mobile Police personnel in the city is now round the clock.
Already all security agencies including para-military agencies have been directed to commence the evacuation of all broken down or abandoned vehicles in all the roads in Abuja while more cordons are being erected on possible and suspicious spots that might be utilized by hoodlums.
Following the threat issued last Wednesday by MEND to bomb the Eagle Square, venue of the Independence celebrations, President Goodluck Jonathan, yesterday, recalled the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Azubuike Ihejirika who was already on his way to Ibadan and Lagos to attend important military functions.
Ihejirika who was scheduled to declare open the Nigeria Army Corps of Finance 8th Bi-ennial Conference in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, had made the about 45 minutes journey by road to the Nnamdi Azikiwe airport and was about boarding the plane when the President called him back apparently because of threats by both the Boko Haram and MEND.
Besides the Chief of Army Staff, Vanguard was told that President Goodluck Jonathan summoned selected governors of some states whom he felt were strategic to the fight against terrorism in the country for a special meeting ahead of October 1, to stress the need to take recent threats by the Boko Haram sect very seriously as intelligence had confirmed that the group was bent on not only embarrassing government but also making the nation ungovernable.
In line with the threats, it was gathered that security agencies have upped the alert status to that of ‘red’ to ensure the planned bombings by both Boko Haram and MEND did not see the light of day.
Meanwhile Lt. General Ihejirika has expressed worry that “the increasing wave of socio-political and ethno-religious crises threatening the nation’s security lately has assumed a higher dimension”.
In a speech read on his behalf by the Chief of Administration, Army Headquarters, Major General BS Usara, the Army Chief noted the nation was witnessing spates of bombings and attacks on key points, vulnerable points, and other strategic areas of interest in the country and “this has left serious demands on the Nigeria Army resources”.
“We also know that funding is fundamental to containing these security challenges. Success in this pursuit, therefore calls for prudent and efficient management and application of available funds” he said adding, “I envisioned an army that would effectively manage its available resources to be able to meet contemporary challenges”.
FG seeks Divine Intervention
In a related development, the Federal Government yesterday gathered Muslim and Christian Clerics to seek God’s intervention in the wake of independence bomb threat by militants.
The prayer session was held simultaneously at noon in all the 774 local governments of the federation to seek for forgiveness of sin, preservation, protection and unity of Nigeria in spite of all challenges.
Declaring the National Day of Prayer for Nigeria open in Abuja, the Minister of Tourism, Culture and National Orientation, Chief Edem Duke said the security challenges are minor in the sight of God and if we bring it to Him, He is able and willing to solve them.
The minister said at 51 Nigeria has a lot of reasons to celebrate, because God has sustained the country through immense challenges. Therefore, people should be thankful and grateful to God, adding that “one of the greatest problems we have is that we are too exposed to negative information given to us by outsiders”.
The Director General of National Orientation Agency, NOA, Alh. Idi Farouka said the prayer “is essentially to seek God’s intervention, bring about sustainable peace and security and help our political, religious and traditional leaders at all levels to provide leadership that is anchored on fear of God and honest service to the people, as we all know that only the peace, security and good governance can guarantee the transformation of our nation.”
The Bishop of Kaduna diocese Anglican Communion, Rt. Rev. Idowu Fearon noted that God is one and until every believer comes to the conclusion that we all serve one God, both Christians and Muslims, there would be no peace.
Also speaking, the Executive Secretary, Muslim Ummah of South West Nigeria, MUSWN, Prof. Dawud Noibi said Nigeria pays lip service to religion despite the fact that it is not a secular nation but a multi-religious one.
Minister expresses concerns over threats
Minister of state for finance, Dr. Yerima Lawan Nagama, also expressed concern over the increasing spate of bombings and other criminal activities in the country warning that they pose a great challenge to national security which also encapsulates the investment environment.
Speaking at the 8th Biennial Training Conference 2011 of the Nigeria Army Corps of Finance in Ibadan, the minister called on the Nigeria Army, as a major instrument of the Nigerian National Security and Defence Policy institution, to be at its best in carrying out its constitutional roles in support of government.
Oct 1: Egbesu warns MEND over blast threats
Following its threat to detonate explosives in Abuja during tomorrow’s 51st independence anniversary celebrations, the Egbesu Fraternity has warned the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) to be ready for reprisals if it carried out its threat.
A twin-bomb explosion rocked the nation’s 50th anniversary celebrations in Abuja last year, claiming some lives and a faction of MEND said it was responsible.
Stating that President Goodluck Jonathan was not a party to the agelong destruction of the Niger Delta and should be allowed to govern peacefully, Egbesu, in a statement by Okin Sele told Jomo Gbomo, “you can’t threaten Jonathan; we’ll go after you.”
His words: “We Egbesu Mightier Fraternity read with utmost concern the press statement issued by the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta through its spokesman, Jomo Gbomo, dated September 28, 2011 ‘On October 1, 2011 to bomb Eagle Square again.’Remember, we are all generals in the field for the struggle to liberate the oppressed Niger Delta Region. But the focus has been diverted without clear agenda for our struggle. We were oppressed without consideration for the wealth in our region by the previous administrations in this country, but God in His infinite mercy turned the glory to Niger Deltans. You have used bomb threat on Mr. President who is innocent about our previous marginalization. Leave President Goodluck Jonathan alone to steer the ship of leadership in the country. We know ourselves. Note, if any bomb blasts as a result of this October 1st Independence day celebration occurred and you (MEND) claim responsibility, we shall not hesitate to meet you one on one. We know your true identities in the struggle. We know our homes. None of us comes from different countries.”