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Senate mum, Abuja residents on high alert over planned attacks

By Odita Sunday, John Akubo, Msugh Ityokura, Tina Abeku and Ernest Nzor (Abuja)
27 July 2022   |   3:53 am
Amid glaring danger lurking in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), the Senate, yesterday, turned deaf ears to the recent threats by terrorists to abduct President Muhammadu Buhari, Kaduna State Governor, Nasir el-Rufai...

[files] Buhari

Wase: DSS submitted 44 security reports before the Kuje prison attack
• Attack on Presidential Guards troops: Army Lieutenant, five soldiers missing in action
• Terrorists assembling weapons to attack Buhari’s state, FCT, Lagos, says NSCDC
• Appointing Northerners as heads of security institutions worsened the situation, says HURIWA
• FG procures six attack helicopters from Turkey

Amid glaring danger lurking in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), the Senate, yesterday, turned deaf ears to the recent threats by terrorists to abduct President Muhammadu Buhari, Kaduna State Governor, Nasir el-Rufai and lawmakers in the country.

Despite heightened apprehension, leading to the immediate closure of all unity schools in Abuja, the lawmakers, upon their return from the weekend break, did not debate the issue of national importance during plenary.

In a viral video, the terrorists, who attacked the Kaduna-Abuja train, had said the President, el-Rufai and Senators were their next target, but surprisingly, the federal lawmakers did not deem it necessary to deliberate on the issue, even behind closed doors in an executive session.

At the plenary, the lawmakers rather embarked on their routine legislative work, attending to three separate letters from President Buhari for various appointments, including the confirmation and approval of the appointment of Justice Olukayode Ariwoola as substantive Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN).

Others were requests for them to confirm and approve the re-appointment of four non-Executive Directors of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) as board members of the apex bank and confirmation of Suleiman Afikpo as Commissioner (Southeast) of the National Hajj Commission. 

An attempt in the House of Representatives to initiate the discussion was countered by stronger voices, who were of the opinion that handlers of the nation’s security should be allowed to do their job. 

The silence of lawmakers in both chambers has further heightened the apprehension of many Nigerians, who have been on edge, wondering why they are not holding the executive to account for their primary duty of securing the lives of citizens.

The Deputy Speaker, Idris Wase, yesterday, disclosed that 44 security reports were submitted by the Department of State Services (DSS) to the Federal Government before the Kuje prison attack in Abuja earlier this month.

Wase, who presided over yesterday’s plenary, emphasised the need for the legislature to support the executive arm of government to curb the rising insecurity in the country

Wase’s disclosure followed a motion of urgent public importance by Abubakar Makki Yallemen on the proposed ban on the use of motorcycles nationwide.

The lawmaker expressed concern that the activities of bandits and kidnappers across the country have subjected members of victims’ families to serious psychological trauma, even as they are forced to part with their hard-earned money.

He noted that while banning commercial motorcycle operations across the country as a means of curtailing security challenges is welcome, the welfare and wellbeing of the citizenry should be considered foremost as the Federal Government has not offered palliative measures to cushion the expected effects of the ban.

But the Deputy Speaker insisted that matters of security concern should not be toyed with given rampant killings across the nation.

Wase, who stepped down the motion, said rather than try to raise issues with the Federal Government’s plans to curb insecurity, the House should rather focus on supporting the government to bring the menace to an end.

FOLLOWING Sunday night’s terrorist ambush of a joint patrol team made up of troops of 7 Guards Battalion and 176 Battalion of Guards Brigade along the Bwari-Kubwa road in which an army Captain was killed, military sources have confirmed that a Lieutenant and five soldiers are still Missing In Action (MIA).

Sources said those who sustained injuries during the ambush were receiving medical attention at a military medical facility in Abuja, while efforts are currently on to locate and rescue the missing soldiers.

A source, however, said there might be the likelihood that some soldiers who escaped the ambush with bullet wounds may have succumbed to paying the supreme price, but until they are found, they will still be considered MIA.

Recall that the spokesman of the Guards Brigade, Captain Godfrey Anebi Abakpa, had confirmed on Monday that terrorists ambushed troops attached to the Presidential Guards Brigade, as they were conducting patrols in Bwari in response to intelligence that the Nigeria Law School in Bwari may be attacked.

The Guardian has also gathered that terrorists are planning a massive onslaught against the country.

The Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) has raised the alarm over a planned attack on the President’s state, Katsina, as well as Lagos and FCT, among locations.

The NSCDC stated that Boko Haram and Islamic State for West Africa Province (ISWAP) terrorists, from the intelligence it gathered, have mobilised their fighters and had equipped themselves with dangerous weapons like anti-aircraft guns, general purpose machine guns, among others, in preparation for the attack on Katsina State.

These were contained in a leaked report addressed to all commands dated July 25 and sighted by our correspondent yesterday. The report titled, ‘Re: Heightened plots by terrorists to stage coordinated attacks in parts of the country was signed by the Deputy Commandant General Controller in charge of Operations, DD Mungadi.

When contacted for a reaction, NSCDC spokesperson, Shola Odumosu, promised to get back to our correspondent, but he was yet to do so at the time of filing this report.

Residents of FCT, yesterday, woke up to a large security presence across major checkpoints and entry and exit points in the city. Commuters were greeted by heavy gridlock as large numbers of policemen were seen manning various points in the city for stop and search.

Already, parents and guardians are currently evacuating their wards from Veritas University in the Bwari district of the FCT. The growing concern over terrorist attacks has prompted the school’s management to allow parents to evacuate their wards from the varsity premises. 

This comes barely 24 hours after the Federal Ministry of Education directed the closure of all Federal Government Colleges in Abuja amid growing security threats. 

A guardian, who spoke on condition of anonymity, expressed how dissatisfied he was with the current security situation in the capital. “It is rather unfortunate that the FCT is unsafe and we have to rush to pick up students from school. Just look at where the school is located. It is not safe. We cannot continue like this,” he said angrily. 

A student who also spoke under the same condition of anonymity said though this new development could affect their academic calendar, she was glad to be back home.

In a circular shared on July 26, and signed by the institution’s Registrar, Stella C. Okonkwo, the school’s management stated their decision was for strict compliance. 

THE Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has said President Buhari’s resolve to appoint only Northerners to head the country’s security architecture and institutions had worsened the security situation across the country.

The rights group also accused President Buhari of lopsided appointments in the security architecture appointments.

National Coordinator of HURIWA, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, who stated this in Abuja at a press briefing, said to address insecurity challenges, Mr President must, without further delay, sack, arrest and try all those in charge of security services in the country.

He said if a government is in place and non-state actors that are armed are perpetrating violence across the country, it means that the government has already been overthrown.  

“It is a shame that terrorists are even threatening to kidnap the President. It’s a shame to everyone who calls himself a Nigerian but government does not seem to rise up to challenge these terrorists,” he said.

MEANWHILE, the Chief Executive Officer of TUSAS, a Turkish aircraft manufacturer, Mr Temel Kotil, yesterday, announced the sale of six T-129 attack helicopters to Nigeria.

The announcement followed a deal reached with the company by the Federal Government. Kotil made the announcement on his Twitter handle.

Government had recently procured A-29 Super Tucano fighter jets from the United States. The government had also made similar procurements from Russia and other European countries as the war against insurgency intensifies.