…To bomb churches and other strategic places
THANKS to the timely intervention of the Joint Task Force (JTF), the dreaded Boko Haram Islamic sect would have unleashed terror of unimaginable proportion on Yorubaland particularly Lagos State had their leader in South-West, Muhammed Sulaiman not been arrest last week.
National Daily competent source disclosed that the Boko Haram South-West leader who was arrested at Farawa Babbam Layi, Maiduguri Road, Kano and now facing interrogation at the headquarters of State Security Service (SSS), Abuja has allegedly confessed that he is the coordinator of a planned attack on strategic places in Lagos and other parts of South-West Nigeria. He allegedly listed a five star hotel, Tafawa Balewa Square, a popular church and market on Lagos Island and a new generation mega-bank as targets of their planned onslaught.
The Ogbomosho, Oyo State born terrorist was quoted as saying that: “We decided to move our attack temporarily from the North to the South starting from Lagos. We realized that Lagos is Nigeria’s most important commercial city; events that happen in Lagos have more impact than anywhere in the country. If we hit Lagos, Nigeria will shake; imagine if we had carried out our plan to bomb churches in Lagos,” an informed security source quoted Sulaiman last weekend, adding: “We had identified some important locations where we will hit in other to gain maximum attention. We listed Tafawa Balewa Square, a busy market in the Island, popular churches, hotel and a new generation bank. We wanted to start bombing Lagos.”
National Daily gathered that after the successful attack in South-West locations, the group will now move to the South-East launching their attack in Enugu before targeting other cities in the South-East zone.
Boko Haram redefined
Sulaiman gave further details of the next stage of their terrorism plans. He claimed that “they have infiltrated some places in Lagos where they now have their agents working for Boko Haram. Boko Haram is not strictly a Hausa or Northern Group par se, it is an Islamic consciousness group made up of Muslims from across the country. Some Boko Haram members are Yoruba, Ibo, Ijaw even Efik.
Sulaiman said the sect decided to take the attack to the South in order to prove that Boko Haram is a national movement, not a Hausa militant group par se, our security source said.
It was further disclosed that Sulaiman confessed to have arranged for certain instrument of violence to be moved in a discrete manner from the sect’s hideout to some identified strategic locations in the South-West. He claimed his men were all but ready to strike before he was arrested by security agents.
“Sulaiman said Boko Haram planned to give Lagos and other cities in the southern region hell. He claimed that what happened in some parts of the North would have been a child’s play compared to what the seat planned to have in Lagos,” our source said.
It would be recalled that a caller to an African Independent Television (AIT) phone-in programme, who claimed he was speaking for the Islamic sect allegedly issued a 72-hour ultimatum after which the sect would attack Abuja and Lagos State. The caller to the phone-in programme, which was broadcast on Friday last week had demanded that President Goodluck Jonathan personally and unconditionally meet with leaders of the sect in Yobe State to discuss terms of a ceasefire failing which Boko Haram would unleash more terror on Abuja and Lagos State.
However, in a seeming reaction to the caller’s statement on AIT, a statement allegedly from Boko Haram has disowned the caller as an imposter.
Expressing displeasure at the arrest which he considered unfortunate, Sulaiman said the plot by the militant Islamic sect, Boko Haram, to carry out violent attacks in the southern part of the country has probably been frustrated by security agencies.
The sect, he explained, had chosen some southern cities such as Lagos, Ibadan, Enugu, Onitsha and Warri for attacks.
National Daily gathered that following sustained attacks on the sect’s strongholds in Borno and Yobe states by security agencies, Boko Haram members had dispersed to other parts of the country.
Sources said that the sect, which had carried out several devastating bombings and gun attacks in Kano that claim over 185 lives, was looking beyond the North in its future terror campaign.
One of the reasons for spreading its operation to the South, it was learned, was in order not to limit its campaign to an ethnic agenda.
Security source said that there is the likelihood that some sponsors of Boko Haram are Southerners.
Source said that the mastermind of the Christmas Day bomb attack on St. Theresa’s Catholic Church, Madalla, Niger State, Kabiru Sokoto, was sighted in Lagos after the incident.
It was gathered that security agencies were leaving no stone unturned in studying the moves of the arrested terror suspects and drawing probable inferences from them.
“It was not a coincidence that Sokoto, who had been on the wanted list of the police before December 25, was sighted in Lagos.
“His presence in Lagos was not for fun. This is one of the angles security agencies are working on.
“I think the group has noticed that security is not tight in the South and there have not been bombings. They are out to cash in on the laxity,” a source said.
The Senate Committee on Police, which probed the escape of Sokoto from custody, had last February said that the suspect was seen in Lagos on December 13.
The committee chairman, Senator Paulinus Nwagu, had, while presenting the report of the probe said, “Police intelligence revealed that prior to his arrest on January 14, 2011, Kabiru Sokoto had been on the wanted list of security agencies.
“Sokoto was reported to have been noticed within the vicinity of Snake Island, Lagos, and left Lagos sometime on December 13, 2011 and disappeared from surveillance monitoring until January 11, 2012.
“He was later traced to Abaji in the Federal Capital Territory.
“Police detectives traced him from Abaji to Abuja on the same date and further traced him to Asokoro, Abuja, where he was finally apprehended at about 0240 hours (2.40 am) on January 14, 2012, at the Borno State Governor’s Lodge at Iro Dan Musa Street, Asokoro, Abuja.”
Intelligence report had revealed that Boko Haram sympathisers had moved to the South, from where they coordinated operations of the sect in the North.
It was learned that the sect decided to shift to the South in order to divert the attention of security agencies, which are on the trail of its members in the North.
“Since the heat has been turned on them, they have been moving to Lagos and other cities, where they mix with unsuspecting northerners residing in those cities.”
He said that the sect’s plot to attack the South was aimed at further creating the impression that there was instability in the country. “You will observe that activities of the sect are ebbing due to unrelenting efforts of security agencies. But Boko Haram is also devising another method. This time around, it is looking at ways of attacking the South.”
However, the security source said, he lamented that security agencies would have recorded more successes, if not for pro-Boko Haram elements in the Presidency. He said: “Some people, who are sympathetic to the Boko Haram cause, are frustrating security agencies’ plans to “deal a final blow on the sect.”
President Goodluck Jonathan on January 8 had said that the sect had infiltrated his government.
“Some of them are in the executive arm of government; some of them are in the parliamentary/legislative arm of government while some of them are even in the judiciary.
“Some are also in the armed forces, the police and other security agencies. Some continue to dip their hands and eat with you and you won’t even know the person who will point a gun at you or plant a bomb behind your house,”the President said.
It would be recalled that the Lagos State Governor, Mr. Raji Fashola, had pulled down three places of worship near the seat of government at Alausa because of incriminating security reports against the sect.
“There is security alert all over the country, not only in the South-West; the so-called plan is something we don’t expect them to execute before we take proactive steps.
“Security agents are aware of their advanced plans and are nipping them in the bud.
“The southern Muslims have value for human lives; they know that nobody can fight for God. They are not inconsiderate. The Muslim leadership in the South are putting their members on the alert; imams are already doing that,” a leader of the Muslim community was quoted as saying.
The Federal Government recently offered to dialogue with Boko Haram, the Islamic fundamentalist sect.
“Government is ready to discuss. History has proven that even wars that are fought for decades, at the end, are only concluded by dialogue,” Vice President Namadi Sambo reportedly said.
Sambo spoke in Abuja at the national symposium organised by the Nasirul-Lahi-Faith Society of Nigeria (NASFAT) on “Islam and peaceful co-existence in a contemporary multi religious society”.
To negotiate with the sect, the government may enlist the assistance of traditional rulers, according to Defence Minister Haliru Bello, who spoke while receiving the Italian Ambassador to Nigeria; Roberto Colamine, in his office.
“The concern of the government is peace and what the government is doing is for the benefit of all Nigerians,” the Vice President said.
Sambo lamented the activities of some negative forces whose actions have portrayed Islam in a negative and evil light, saying: “Islam is a religion of peace; it is a way of life. It cannot promote senseless killings and wanton destruction of property. I am not aware of any religion in the world that encourages unprovoked and relentless attack on other people.”
He reiterated the determination of President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration to provide adequate security for the lives and property of all Nigerians and visitors.
The Vice President highlighted the strides the administration had recorded in achieving the objectives of the Transformation Agenda which, he said, cut across improved electricity supply; education; agriculture, transportation system; and poverty alleviation.
He hoped that the activities of militant groups would not jeopardise the government’s desire to propel Foreign Direct Investment (FDIs).
Describing the security challenges posed by the sect as temporary, the Minister stressed that the challenges were restricted to a few local governments in the North-eastern zone.
The minister assured the envoy of President Goodluck Jonathan’s desire to make the difference in governance, in line with the administration’s transformation agenda.
He said a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Nigerian and the Italian governments was awaiting the Federal Executive Council’s ratification.
According to him, the MOU would enhance Nigeria’s peace keeping efforts.
The Ambassador had called for dialogue in the resolution of Nigeria’s security challenges. He agreed with the Minister that the ratification of the MOU would strengthen the relationship between the two countries.
Meanwhile, the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar III, has urged the Muslim Ummah to champion peaceful co-existence and education.
He also called on religious leaders to be mindful of their utterances so as not to overheat the polity, adding that aggrieved groups should embrace dialogue.
The Sultan dispelled rumour that there are plans to islamize Nigeria.
“If there is such plan, I should know because I was once in the military. We should trust ourselves. I wish to assure Christians that we are one big family created by Allah,” he said.
Lamenting that impunity has become the order of the day, the Sultan who co-chairs the Nigeria Inter-religious Council (NIREC) with Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) President, Ayo Oritsejafor, urged Muslims to promote peace and mutual co-existence in line with the Holy Quran.
“We must promote moderation and toleration in our society. We must equally open effective channels of dialogue with all segments of the society, including those who hold contrary opinions to that of our own.
“Islamic civilization both here and elsewhere is predicated on the promotion of learning not only in the religions sciences but also in Science and Technology. The conflict between faith and science did not originate in the Muslim world. Muslim civilization bequeathed to the world the study of Science and Technology. The time has come for Muslims to strive harder to reclaim this golden legacy.
National Security Adviser (NSA) Gen. Owoye Azazi recently stated that economic woes created a fertile ground for the recruitment, indoctrination, brainwashing and training of terrorists and other insurgents.
Speaking on the theme “Northern Nigeria, the prosperity agenda and national security” at the Northern Impact Summit organised by the Arewa Transformation and Empowerment Initiative Gen. Azazi also said lopsided economic development is capable of causing the collapse of a nation.
He noted that even though bombings and terrorist attacks have been concentrated in the North, they have adversely affected the nation’s economy.
Gen. Azazi said the nation cannot afford to leave any of its states or region behind in the march towards a long overdue achievement of prosperity. He said comprehensive regional economic transformation is at the forefront of the nation’s policies.
Security sources said that Sulaiman was originally offered the number two position in Boko Haram’s hierarchy but was eventually not considered because of circumstances he refused to admit.
The suspect, who was arrested with his wife and five children, allegedly confessed that he was involved in the manufacturing of explosives and allegedly accepted the ownership of an AK rifles, one pistol, 10 improvised explosive devices and 1,000 pieces of live ammunition.
Sulaiman and members of his family were paraded before reporters in Kano before he was taken to Abuja where he was detained. He faced a team of SSS officials for preliminary interrogation. Security sources, said he looked disoriented and appeared to be jittery during interrogation session.
However, he was said to have pleaded with the security agents to release his wife and children who he said were not involved in his activities. He allegedly confessed to having been involved in some notable Boko Haram operation in the North and further stated that he is the coordinator for the planned Boko Haram operation in the South-West.