President Muhammadu Buhari, will today (Monday) hold an emergency meeting with security chiefs in Abuja.
Buhari, who was earlier scheduled to inaugurate the NASENI Complex, summoned the meeting which is expected to review and strengthen the security network in the country.
The President’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, disclosed in a statement on Sunday that the ceremony had been postponed.
This is happening against the backdrop of the Saturday bomb blast in Mogadishu, Somalia’s capital, which claimed 100 lives and injured about 300 persons. On Sunday, the death toll rose to 104.
Shehu’s statement titled, ‘President Buhari calls for an emergency security meeting, postpones NASENI complex commissioning,’ read, ‘’The President, who was initially scheduled to commission the National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure new Technology and Innovation Complex, will receive briefs from the security chiefs, and interject on areas that need more attention.
The inauguration of the NASENI complex will hold at a later date.’’
Amid the travel advisories issued by the United States and the United Kingdom, Buhari had on Friday urged Nigerians to remain calm and vigilant.
Buhari, who stated that Nigerians’ safety remains the highest priority of the government, noted that security agents were proactively rooting out threats to keep citizens safe.
Speaking on the actions taken to keep the nation’s capital safe, the Spokesperson for the FCT Police, DSP Josephine Adeh said the Commissioner of Police, Babaji Sunday have been interfacing with stakeholders – estates, gardens and parks, motor parks, high-rise buildings and hotel owners in Abuja before the reported imminent terror attack alert.
She said, “The CP has been interfacing with stakeholders; estates, gardens and parks, motor parks, high-rise buildings, and hotel owners in the FCT before now. This is a routine, and it was not borne out of the reported imminent terror attack alert making the rounds.
“Our duty is to secure the FCT, the people and their properties, and we have been doing that even before now, and we’ve intensified our operation since the alert.
“The CP had met with hotel and high-rise building owners to ensure the installation of CCTV cameras on their premises for security reasons. He had met with estate owners not to allow hotels in the estates which are residential areas. We also relate with public transportation workers’ unions to ensure they know their drivers and workers. He has met with garden owners too, all to ensure security and safety.”
The Senior Assistant to the FCT Minister on Monitoring, Inspection and Enforcement, Attah Ikharo told The PUNCH on Sunday that his unit had pulled down illegal settlements in Gwarimpa, Katampe and other unapproved areas in the capital.
“We discovered that people are building illegal shanties in cashew plantations and using them as bases for criminal activities. So, we have raided cashew forests in Gwarimpa, katampe, Bwari, Karsana District, Kubwa and in other places like Durumi which we will raid this week,’’ he stated.
Meanwhile, findings by our correspondent on Sunday indicate that churches in Abuja have reintroduced body search and scanning of worshippers and bags with electronic scanners in response to the terror alerts issued by some foreign missions last week.
Armed security officers were also seen at many of the worship centres visited by our correspondents on Sunday.
This is even as The PUNCH learnt that the authorities may ask managers of residential estates to provide information on the inhabitants of their estates.
The development followed the arrest of two suspects at Trademore Estate last Monday amid concerns that many criminals and terror suspects may be using the estates as their operational bases.
At the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Praise Assembly Parish, Karu site, our correspondent spotted an unarmed civil defence officer on the street on patrol.
At the gate of the worship centre were two uniformed church security officers scanning the faithful with handheld scanners.
However, church attendance seemed to be unaffected regardless of the security situation.
The same situation was observed at the Apostolic Faith Church, Utako, where an armed police officer and two private guards manned the gate.
The guards conducted a check on worshippers before they were let into the church premises.
Patience, a parishioner said, “Where else do you expect me to go if I don’t come to church? I opened my shop last week with fear because I had no choice. I just hope that God would save us from this situation.”
Also at the Living Faith Church, Jikwoyi, worshippers trooped in their numbers to attend the Sunday service with the tents completely filled. There was no visible presence of security agencies.
The Celestial Church Christ, Central Cathedral at the Garki area of FCT had an impressive turnout with no security agent present.
Also, at the Apostolic Assembly in Wuse one of our correspondents observed the Church was filled but the private security guards on duty subjected members to a thorough search.
A member of the church, Pelumi Fasogbon said, ‘’As Christians, times like this have been predicted in the Bible and the only thing to do is to seek the face of God. Moreover, the church leadership is not leaving anything to chance.”
The Security Committee of the Federal Capital Territory, in a newly-introduced Code of Conduct, has barred members of FCT vigilante groups operating in communities from using firearms.
FCT Director of Information and Communication, Muhammad Sule made this known in a statement released on Sunday, following the Committee’s 11th meeting, presided over by the Minister of the FCT, Muhammad Bello.
He said the newly-established Code of Conduct prohibited members of the group from carrying firearms without the presence of an officer of the Nigerian Police Force or express permission granted by the Divisional Police Officer of the jurisdiction where they operate.
Troops of the Nigerian Army have killed no fewer than seven terrorists during a clearance operation in Kaduna State.
While four were eliminated in Maidaro, Kagi Hill, Kusharki and Anguwan Madaki in Birnin Gwari local government, three others were killed along Sabon Birnin road.
In a statement on Sunday by the Director, Nigerian Army Public Relations, Brigadier General, Onyema Nwachukwu said four motorcycles, and one automatic pump action, among others were recovered.
The statement read, “In continuation of the onslaught against terrorist groups in the North West, troops of 1 Division Nigerian Army on Operation Forest Sanity conducted clearance operation in Maidaro, Kagi Hill, Kusharki and Anguwan Madaki in Birnin Gwari Local Government Area of Kaduna State during which contact was made with terrorists. In the fierce encounter that followed, four bandits were neutralized, forcing others to flee in disarray. The gallant troops recovered two AK 47 rifles with two rounds of 7.62mm Special, one automatic pump action gun with three cartridges, six Dane guns, three locally fabricated pistols with one 9mm round and four motorcycles.’’
In a separate operation conducted by another fighting patrol team of 1 Division of the Nigerian Army, troops along Sabon Birnin – Zartake, Ungwan Lima Riyawa and Tungan Madaki general area, closely supported from the air by Nigerian Air Force platforms, intercepted fleeing bandits from Kagi Hill. In the firefight that ensued, the troops neutralized three terrorists.”
Onyema said the Chief of Army Staff, Lt Gen Faruk Yahaya, commended the troops and urged them not to relent until terrorism and other criminalities are brought to an end in the region.
Also, some terrorists suspected to be ISWAP fighters have been arrested by the men of the Nigerian Army after a failed attempt to free their leaders in a concentration camp located in New Bussa, Niger State.
A defence intelligence source revealed that the terrorists fell into the trap of the military who had laid a massive ambush for them.
The source said, “Though the incident happened in the night, the troops had been anticipating such daring moves and have been on high alert. They just came into our trap. While at least seven dead bodies of the terrorists were counted this morning, the troops succeeded in arresting one of their commanders who led the fighters.
“NAF aircraft were also timely in supporting the ground troops from Wawa Military cantonment in Borgu local government area of Niger state, hence the success in decimating the terrorists,” he said.
Also, troops eliminated scores of Boko Haram terrorists in Bama Local Government Area of Borno State.
It was gathered that airstrikes were executed on Friday on the heels of credible intelligence reports indicating the large presence of the terrorists in the general area.
The terrorists were hibernating in some hideouts around the axis of Bula Ngufdoye, Ngori, kote and Tangalanga, kulo Gonna, Bulamarwaye, Garje, Wuta and Mordo villages in the Cameroonian border town.
Some of the terrorists who attempted to flee the location were also mopped up in follow-up attacks by the jets.
Meanwhile, the government of Somalia has said victims of Saturday’s twin bomb blast in Mogadishu, the country’s capital, with critical injuries, would be airlifted abroad for further treatment.
This was disclosed by the country’s Minister of Health, Dr Ali Adan, who paid a visit to the hospitals where the survivors were receiving treatment.
The minister resorted to airlifting the victims after asking to know if some of them were receiving the best treatment.
Meanwhile, the attack has been condemned by the government through a statement issued by the Ministry of Information, Somali National News Agency reports.
“Such cowardly and reprehensible acts of terrorism will not in any way deter the absolute commitment of the Somali people and their government but will further strengthen our purpose to defeat international terrorists and end the misery they cause.
“We are at war with a cruel, global, and morally bankrupt terrorist group. The Somali government is proud of the courage of our resilient people who have shown bravery and courage to make a firm stand against Al-Shabab and their abuse and criminal acts against our people and nation.
“The government extends its heartfelt condolences and sympathy to those who have tragically lost their lives and the many more that were injured.
“We have to join our hands together to defeat the enemy of the Somali people,” the statement read.
The President of Somalia, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, according to the AFP news agency, said the victims included mothers with their children in their arms.
He appealed for international medical help to deal with the 300 injured.
The president blamed the al-Shabab militant group for Saturday’s attack which targeted the education ministry.
The pro-jihadist Somali Memo website has reported that the group has said it was behind the blasts.
The World Health Organisation has promised to provide health care to those wounded as a result of Saturday’s double car bombings in Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia.
This was disclosed by the Director General, Tedros Ghebreyesus, who took to Twitter to describe the incident as devastating.
“Devastating news. We remember the people of Somalia and send the affected families our sincere condolences. WHO stands ready to provide the government with support to treat the injured and provide trauma care to the victims,” he said.
The incident claimed the lives of 100 people and left 300 wounded, President Hassan Mohamud of Somalia confirmed, adding that he expected the death toll to rise further.
‘’Our people who were massacred included mothers with their children in their arms, fathers who had medical conditions, students who were sent to study, and businessmen who were struggling with the lives of their families,” Mohamud further stated.
Meanwhile, the head of the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Francis, has prayed for the victims of the attack while speaking at the Angelus Prayer on Sunday.
He said, “As we celebrate Christ’s victory over evil and death, we pray for the victims of the terrorist attack in Mogadishu which killed more than 100 people, including many children. May God convert the hearts of the violent.”
Also reacting, the United States Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, in a tweet on Sunday, condoled with the families of the deceased.
He said, “We stand with Somalia in the wake of yesterday’s terrorist attacks in Mogadishu. Our thoughts are with those injured, and we extend our condolences to the families of the deceased. We reaffirm our support for Somalia and know freedom and security will prevail over terrorism.”
Condemning the attack, the government of India, in a statement issued by the External Affairs Ministry, said it reminded the international community to stand united against terrorism.
“India strongly condemns the terrorist attacks in Mogadishu on October 29 that have claimed many innocent lives.
“We extend our heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims and wish a speedy recovery to those injured in the twin blasts.
“This attack again reminds the international community to stand united and resolute in combating terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, as it remains one of the gravest threats to international peace and security,” the statement said.