There were strong indications on Tuesday that two terrorist groups, the Islamic State West Africa Province and Boko Haram, were planning to attack some states in the Northwest, Northcentral and Southwest.
The PUNCH learnt that security agencies had got a security report that ISWAP and Boko Haram planned to attack Lagos, Kaduna, Kogi, Katsina and Zamfara states as well as the Federal Capital Territory.
Earlier on Tuesday, there was a leaked memo from the headquarters of Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, which alerted state commands to the planned attacks.
NSCDC spokesman, Shola Odumosu, when contacted said the memo did not originate from the security agencies.
However, a state commandant, who confirmed the memo, said security officials had been directed to keep mum over it in order not to cause panic.
The commandant, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said, ‘’Yes, it is true that they (headquarters) issued a security alert to us that we should be careful and we should instruct our men to be watchful. We protect the critical infrastructure and places of worship.
“It is also important that we inform the people so they can be vigilant.”
Following the alert, security was on Tuesday beefed up in Abuja to forestall a possible attack by ISWAP and Boko Haram.
On Sunday, the elite Presidential Guards Brigade was attacked by gunmen along the Bwari-Kubwa road where a captain, lieutenant and six soldiers reportedly lost their lives.
To foil the planned attack by ISWAP, the Nigeria Army and Nigeria Police Force on Tuesday deployed troops and policemen in strategic locations across the FCT.
The operatives were observed in Bwari, which is hosting a campus of the Nigeria Law School; Apo Mechanic, Lugbe, Living Faith area, Goshen, Keffi-Abuja Expressway while day and night patrol has been intensified
Speaking to The PUNCH on Tuesday, the Force spokesman, Muyiwa Adejobi, said the Inspector-General of Police, Usman Baba, had ordered the deployment of police personnel and assets to strategic parts of the FCT.
He explained that the IG has also ordered the Force Intelligence Bureau to gather intelligence in a move to thwart the planned attack.
Adejobi said, “We are not leaving any stone unturned to fortify the Federal Capital Territory and its environs. The IGP has ordered additional deployment of assets to strategic areas of the FCT while the Force Intelligence Bureau has been charged to gather robust Intelligence.”
Assistant Director, Army Public Relations, Guards Brigade, Godfrey Abakpa, also confirmed the deployment of troops across the FCT, adding that it was part of measures to frustrate any planned attack on the seat of power.
He said, “Yesterday (Monday), the Federal Government asked all schools to shut down in Abuja in response to the security threat received by them. As the elite brigade in the FCT, it is our duty to ensure that there is law and order. Everything being done now is a precautionary measure to guard against any security threat or unforeseen circumstances.”
Similarly, the FCT NSCDC command spokesperson, Comfort Okomaniyi said the Corps had posted its personnel to strategic locations.
She added that the female squad had equally been deployed across schools in the FCT.
Okomaniyi stated, “A deployment was made on Monday that would last till Thursday. The FCT Command deployed both armed and unarmed personnel to strategic places to monitor the security of the FCT, especially schools.
“Even after the deployment, principal officers in operation as directed by the commandant went round on surveillance. The female squad is in charge of the schools; if more are needed they would be deployed there. We are urging parents to be calm, we are doing our best to ensure security in schools.”
The NSCDC leaked memo indicated that Boko Haram and ISWAP terrorists were amassing dangerous weapons for massive attacks on Katsina, Lagos, FCT, Kaduna, and Zamfara states.
The criminals were reported to have acquired high-calibre weapons, including Anti-aircraft guns, General Purpose Machine Guns, among others, in preparation for an attack on Katsina State.
The intelligence report titled, ‘Re: Heightened plots by terrorists to stage coordinated attacks in parts of the country,’ was signed by the Deputy Commandant-General in charge of Operations, DD Mungadi.
It added that the Commandant-General had directed the state commandants to put up measures to avert the attacks.
The report dated July 25, 2022 and addressed to all NSCDC state commands, was sighted by one of our correspondents on Tuesday.
It read, “We have received credible intelligence that Boko-Haram and the ISWAP terrorist groups have mobilised fighters and high-calibre weapons, particularly Rocket-Propelled Grenade Launchers, Anti-Aircraft guns and General Purpose Machine Guns which they intend to deploy for the offensive in Katsina State.”
“In another development, two separate bandits groups are plotting coordinated attacks on Northwest, Northcentral and Southwest (Katsina, Zamfara, Kaduna, Kogi, FCT and Lagos), respectively. Consequently, the Commandant-General has directed you scale up deployment in all strategic places, including schools, worship centres and critical national assets in your respective states to checkmate any possible threats by these criminal elements. Please treat as urgent,” the report added.
NSCDC spokesman, Odumosu, however denied that the report was from the corps.
Meanwhile, suspected terrorists launched an attack on communities in Katsina State, killing three persons while seven others were abducted on Tuesday.
The incident occurred at Unguwar Isiyaka and Yar Tafki villages in the Funtua Local Government Area of Katsina, the home state of President Muhammadu Buhari.
At Unguwar Isiyaka, residents said the gunmen killed three victims and abducted four others including a ward head.
The residents also revealed that the Principal of Government Secondary School, Makera, a nursing mother and her baby were abducted at Yar Tafki village.
One of the residents who pleaded for anonymity, said, “Early this morning (Tuesday), some armed terrorists in large numbers carrying sophisticated weapons attacked Yar Tafki village and started shooting sporadically and in the process they kidnapped Yahaya Magaji, the Principal of Government Secondary School, Makera.
“They also kidnapped Marakisuya Yakubu, aged 35 and her 17-month-old baby, Bilkisu Yakubu. At Unguwar Isiyaka village, three men were killed by the terrorists and four others have been kidnapped including the Mai Unguwa (ward head).”
Official comments and clarification on the incident were still being expected from the spokesman for the Katsina Police Command, Gambo Isah as at 6.25 p.m on Tuesday.
Also, suspected terrorists ravaged communities in Gummi, Bakura and Tsafe Local Government Areas of Zamfara State.
An indigene of Gummi LGA, Sani Mohammed said that the terrorists attacked and killed some villagers in three communities of the local government.
Efforts by our correspondent in Zamfara to get reactions from both the state government and the security agents failed.
Police Public Relations Officer, Mohammed Shehu, the Commissioner for Security, Mamman Tsafe, and Special Adviser to Governor Bello Mattawale on Media, Zailani Bappa, declined comment.
FCT Education Secretariat has said schools in the territory have not been shut.
Spokesperson for the secretariat, Kabir Musa, added that there was no need for that since students are expected to sit for their last examinations on Wednesday.
Adequate measures, he disclosed, had been put in place to ensure their safety.
Call to Bar venue changed amid fear of attack
In a related development, the Body of Benchers on Tuesday reached a consensus to move the Call to Bar ceremony from the Law School premises in Bwari to its newly constructed Headquarters in Jabi area of Abuja.
Although details were still sketchy, sources said, “the decision was informed by the security threat in Abuja and its environs.”
Some BOB members said the meeting was devoted to how to ensure a successful and hitch free Call to Bar on Wednesday.
Reacting to the report of an impending attack, Lagos State Government said it had received no report of the plot by terrorists to attack the state.
The state Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Gbenga Omotoso, stated this when he was reached on phone by our correspondent on Tuesday.
He said, “As far as I know, the Lagos State Government has received no such report of any intended attack on the state by terrorists.”
Kano State spokesman of the Command of the NSCDC, Ibrahim Idris, said the command deployed its personnel to various electrical installations across the state following the security alert it received from its headquarters.
Similarly, we are calling on members of the public to report any suspected persons or group of persons to the nearest security agents for prompt action.