By Kingsley Omonobi, Johnbosco Agbakuru, Rotimi Ojomoyela, Olayinka Latona
President Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday, said gallant troops and civilians injured by terrorists deserved Nigerians goodwill and sustained prayers just as he disclosed that government had turned the tide against “the enemy and annihilate those who work against the unity of our nation.”
Buhari spoke in his Christmas message to the nation just as security forces arrested another 146 terror suspects in Abuja.
The suspects were apprehended in several dark spots in the Federal Capital Territory.
The police also raised alert level and beefed up security across the nation ahead of Christmas to forestall terror attacks and other criminal activities.
In the Christmas message, Buhari said that the personal fortitude of the gallant soldiers fighting insurgency will continue to inspire the country to victory.
He urged Nigerians to use the occasion to remember and provide refuge to those who cannot enjoy Christmas at home with their families especially those driven away from their homes by insurgency or violence, particularly the Internally Displaced Persons.
The message read, “I felicitate with all Nigerians, particularly our Christian brothers and sisters, on the occasion of this year’s Christmas day celebration.
“The commemoration of the birth of Jesus Christ is an important opportunity for us to show love to one another and encourage unity by spending quality time with our friends, families and the less-privileged.
‘It is also an occasion to draw inspiration from the exemplary lifestyle and teachings of Jesus Christ, who constantly stood for what is right, true and honest.
“The Holy Book describes Christmas as a festival of peace, joy, healing, hope and fulfilment. It kindles great expectations in the heart, irrespective of the challenges of the moment.
“As we celebrate this Yuletide season, let us devote some time to pray and appreciate the sacrifices of members of our armed services to keep our nation safe and secure.
“By the same token, and keeping with the spirit of the season, our gallant troops serving in the frontlines in the fight against insurgency; those wounded, lying in the hospital, as well as civilians who have suffered the brunt of evil and wicked elements these past years, deserve our fervent goodwill and sustained prayers.
“The personal fortitude of these individuals will continue to inspire us to victory as we turn the tide against the enemy and annihilate those who work against the unity of our nation.
“In this season of hope, let us remember to provide refuge to those who cannot enjoy Christmas at home with their families, or have been driven from their homes by insurgency or violence, particularly the Internally Displaced Persons.
“Lately, we have witnessed an upsurge in the activities of trans-border syndicates who lure our youths to modern slavery through irregular migration. While we have stepped up our efforts to halt this wickedness against the upwardly mobile generation, and have evacuated some of our compatriots stranded abroad, we appeal to them to shun the allure of embarking on such perilous journeys.
“I am deeply convinced that better days lie ahead for us as a nation as we make progress on all the major fronts where we have set our energies to surmount the challenges.”
Police deploy bomb-tracking vehicles, arrest 146
Following intelligence that Boko Haram, whose members reportedly flooded Abuja on bombing mission, the Presidency, at the weekend, ordered the deployment of more bomb-tracking vehicles to the entry and exit routes of the federal capital territory.
Consequently, Sunday Vanguard gathered that, aside the well-known Nyanya-Mararaba route, the Abaji-Kwali route, the Suleija route and the airport route, where four of the anti-bomb equipment was deployed, five anti-bomb tracking and detecting equipment were, at the weekend, deployed in the FCT with new routes discovered to be leading to the northern parts of the country like Madallah, Bwari, Zuba, Nyanya and Suleija among others.
And in continuation of the raid on dark spots and suspected meeting points of criminal elements and places where intelligence showed terrorists may be hibernating, the 400-man joint security team, set up under the supervision of the FCT Police Command, yesterday, arrested another 146 terror suspects in Abuja.
Sunday Vanguard gathered that the suspects were nabbed at different dark spots, including the notorious Apo-Pantaker axis, and some inner outlets where hundreds of suspected escapees of criminal activities from the North East and other parts of the country were converging and holding meetings to plan criminal attacks.
To buttress the seriousness with which government was taking the new threats of bombings, a security source told Sunday Vanguard that the Inspector General of Police, IGP, Ibrahim Idris,on Friday, ordered the deployments of three units of Mobile Police Officers from the states bordering Abuja and Force Headquarters to work with the special joint security team working to ward off the terrorists attack in the last three weeks.
On the part of the FCT Police Command, it was gathered that the Police Commissioner, CP Sadiq Abubakar Bello, directed the entire 16, 000 police officers in the command to remain on duty for 24 hours until the yuletide season was over.
In this regard, Sunday Vanguard was told that all eateries, gardens, recreation parks, markets, relaxation spots had been placed under surveillance on a 24 hours basis.
While noting the operational order approved for ‘snap stop and search’ checking which is meant to take suspicious elements by surprise, the source hammered on the need for residents to be vigilant and pass information immediately to security agencies.
In a related development the police would beef-up security throughout the nation at Christmas.
He spoke during his end of the year meeting with top police officers.
A statement by the Force Public Relations Officer, CSP Jimoh Moshood, yesterday, said, “The IGP further re-emphasized same directives to all Commanders of Police Mobile Force (PMF), Counter Terrorism Unit (CTU) and Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad (F-SARS).
“In addition, Special Forces and specialized units of the Force, including Special Tactical Squad, Special Protection Unit, Border Patrol and Explosive Ordinance Department have been adequately mobilized and deployed along with the conventional Policemen throughout the country to beef up security in their Area of Responsibilities (AOR).
“Police Federal Highway Patrol Teams, Safer Highway and Divisional Patrol Teams have been mandated and are under strict instruction to be polite, civil but strict in ensuring security and safety of travellers and other road users on all the highways and major roads throughout the country.
“The IGP has equally directed the Assistant Inspector General of Police and Commissioners of Police to ensure that no roadblock is mounted anywhere in the country but to put in place visibility police patrol teams and crime prevention squads in their Area of Responsibilities (AOR) throughout the country to ensure safety and free passage for all travellers nationwide.
“The IGP further directed that all Assistant Inspectors General of Police and Commissioners of Police in all Zonal and State Commands and their personnel throughout the country to be on red alert and supervise their personnel to observe International Best Practices in carrying out their duties Nationwide.
“The personnel of the force will be on 24-hours round-the-clock surveillance and robust vehicular patrols throughout the Yuletide and the New Year.
“Particular attention and adequate police deployment will also be carried out on places of worship and venues of celebration including strategic public places, recreation centers, shopping malls, business plazas, motor parks, Government installations and other important locations so as to forestall any criminal activity and guarantee the safety of the citizenry”.
Fayemi admonishes on Xmas
Also, yesterday, the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Dr Kayode Fayemi, congratulated Christians for witnessing yet another Christmas, urging them to continue to live by example, especially in their relationship with one another and with adherents of other religions.
The Minister said Christmas is a season to give and demonstrate love, urging however, that such demonstration of love and generosity should extend beyond the season.
Fayemi, in a Christmas message by his Special Assistant on Media, Mr Yinka Oyebode, said it is only through a practical demonstration of love, peaceful co -existence with one another that Nigerians can unite and forge ahead in the crucial task of building a very strong, vibrant and prosperous nation.
He said that being alive to witness another Christmas is a privilege, which calls for celebration. He, however advised that celebration should be done moderately, as to allow ample time for reflection and prayers for a more prosperous Nigeria.
Daystar feeds 3,000+
In the spirit of Christmas, the Benevolence Group of Daystar Christian Centre, Lagos gave food items to thousands of people, yesterday.
Over 3,000 people, including the physically challenged, besieged the church centre in Oregun, Ikeja, Lagos as early as 5 am to collect the food items for free in the special benevolence open day love programme tagged, ‘Love at Christmas’.
Smiles showed on the faces of the teeming beneficiaries as they got different food stuffs and gift packs to celebrate Christmas.
On the purpose of the event, Assistant Head of the Benevolence Unit of Daystar, Toun Awofeso, and the church Membership Team Head, Bolutife, Oluyomi explained that the project was one of the means through which the church exemplified its message of love to the society at large.
One of the beneficiaries, Mr. Hammed Omotosho physically challenged, said: “The church has demonstrated its love for us through its constant care and giving. I even invited one of my friends to partake in this good gesture and I pray that God will continue to lift and increase the church.”