BY CHIDI NKWOPARA, ANAYO OKOLI & BEN AGANDE
UMUAHIA—SOLDIERS from the Asa Military Base of 14 Brigade, Ohafia Barracks, Abia State, Sunday arrested 486 suspected insurgents including eight girls. The arrest was made same day bombs were uncovered and defused in a church in neighbouring Imo State.
The suspected insurgents were said to be going to Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital in search of work.
The suspects were arrested at about 2 am when their vehicles were intercepted by soldiers between Arungwa Junction on the Enugu-Port Harcourt Expressway and Imo Gate, the Abia State and Rivers State boundary.
They were said to be moving in a convoy of 35 Hummer buses when they were intercepted. However, two of the buses were said to have escaped arrest.
According to Abia State Commissioner for Information, Mr. Eze Chikamnayo, who briefed journalists, yesterday at the military base in Asa, Ukwa West Local Government Area of the state, where they were being detained, the suspects are aged from 16 years upwards.
Chikamnayo who was accompanied during the briefing by the Commander in-charge of the battalion, Lt. Col. Rasheed Omolori, who also confirmed the arrest, said that the suspects allegedly came from Kano, Taraba and Jigawa states.
They were said to have claimed that they were going to Port Harcourt in search of work.
Lt. Col. Omolori, who however declined further comments on the arrest, said that a report had been forwarded to Army Headquarters, Abuja.
The commissioner, however, said that further investigation would assist in unraveling the true mission of the suspects but insisted that “the movement was suspicious”.
Chikamnayo commended the Army and other security agencies in the state for their vigilance and urged them not to relent.
Some of the vehicles which have been impounded by the Army authorities have the number plates: Jigawa RNG 98XA; Osun RLG 176XA; Kano AF 411 DAL; Lagos BDG 487 XK; Abuja EP 86 ABC and Bauchi ZAK 48 XA, among others.
Imo’s 8-point security measures
Meanwhile, the Imo State Government has announced far reaching security measures, following the botched bomb attack targeted at the Living Faith Church, Winners Chapel, Owerri.
Announcing the eight-point measures, yesterday, in Owerri, after several hours of special security meeting he held with security chiefs and a cross section of Imo people, Governor Rochas Okorocha, said that government would summarily take over uncompleted buildings found to be hideouts for criminals.
“Uncompleted buildings in the cities in the state and environs without security guards, will be taken over by the government because criminals use them as hideouts”, Okorocha said.
The governor, who branded the security measure as “operation know your neighbour”, also ordered hotels in the state, to install security cameras and should on a daily basis, forward a list of all their guests to the Director of State Security Service.
“Trailers bringing food items from the North would no longer be allowed to come into the state at night but only during the day and the food items would be off-loaded at a designated place, off the state capital”, Okorocha said.
While saying that lands left fallow for several years and not used for any economic or gainful purpose but taken over by criminals, will be seized by the state government, the Governor also banned the smoking of Indian hemp anywhere in the state.
He warned residents in the state to be very careful with broken bottles, cans, leather bags, parked tankers and vehicles around their homes, public places and public buildings.
“Traditional rulers in the state are directed to summon emergency meetings of their various communities to take stock of strange faces living within their autonomous communities”, Okorocha said.
The Governor then announced that government has concluded arrangements to meet all non-indigenes in the state, adding that nobody comes into a state to commit crime of any kind without an internal collaborator.
It was the considered opinion of Okorocha that since those who commit these crimes are human beings, they must also be residents somewhere, and their neighbours should equally be able to know them and what they do.
Boko Haram can’t be allowed in S-East— Obiano
Meantime, Governor Willy Obiano of Anambra state, said yesterday that the Islamic Terrorist group, Boko Haram will never be allowed to have a stronghold in the South Eastern part of the country.
Speaking with State House Correspondents after the governors of Enugu, Abia Anambra and Ebonyi states paid a solidarity visit to President Goodluck Jonathan, Mr Obiano said the governors of the South East were watchful of events in the country and would do everything to ensure that the sect’s activities do not get to the region.
According to him, the governors were in the Villa to assure the President that despite the challenge of insecurity, the people of the South East are with him.
On the possibility that Boko Haram may extend its activities to the south East, the governor said: “No, they can’t get there; I can assure you of that. We will not allow that to happen. I can’t tell you in any material details about bombs found or not found. All I can assure you is that we are very alert in the South-East and we are watching what is going on. I can assure you that Boko Haram cannot come to the Southeast” he said.
On the visit of the governors to the President, Obiano said: “The South-East governors came this morning to assure him that we are with him all through the way and that he can count on us.
“The President is a human being and he is under a lot of pressure and some other people are making the work a lot more difficult for him. Instead of supporting him to steer us out of these stormy waters, they are adding kerosene to fire. So we are here to tell him that we are supporting him and that he should count on us” he said.
On the erosion ravaging parts of the South East, the governor said that the World Bank with the state governments are working on a lot of erosion sites already.
“They have expanded the four erosion sites they are working on currently to 12; so they are adding eight more erosion sites. I believe that this intervention which is 50/50 per cent contribution will go a long way in helping to tackle the erosion sites we have in the state.
“We are also tackling erosion from the legal point of view. Bush burning will no longer be allowed, so also is cutting roads to lay pipes to houses. These are some of the factors that lead to erosion. We want people to do the necessary things that they should do; we want people to stop termination of drainages abruptly. We are putting a law in place to ensure that anybody that violates the law will face the consequences” he said.