Adelani Adepegba, Okechukwu Nnodim, Solomon Odeniyi and Deborah Tolu-Kolawole
7 May 2021
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FG increases security presence in Abuja, intensifies stop-and-search
We’re not aware of security threats in nation’s capital, says Guards Brigade
There was heightened anxiety in parts of the Federal Capital Territory, on Thursday following reports of alleged imminent attacks on parts of the FCT.
The PUNCH had reported exclusively on Wednesday that lawmakers had been notified of a possible attack by Boko Haram insurgents on the National Assembly complex and other public buildings in Abuja.
There were also media reports that schools in the Bwari area of Abuja hurriedly shut down on Wednesday over alleged arrival of truckloads of bandits in a neighbouring town, Sabon Wuse.
Our correspondents reported that palpable fear enveloped some parts of the FCT on Thursday.
One of our correspondents reported that security was beefed up at the main gate of the Mogadishu Barracks in Abuja popularly called Abacha Barracks.
Armed soldiers were seen subjecting vehicles entering the barracks located not too far from the AYA roundabout to thorough checks.
The situation led to a long queue of vehicles that stretched beyond the bridge in front of the barracks into the Abuja-Nasarawa Expressway.
Recall that there was a bomb blast at pubs near the barracks on the eve of January 1, 2011, when many people were killed. Boko Haram later claimed it carried out the attack.
FG increases security presence, stop-and-search at NNPC
At the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation headquarters, Abuja, security was also beefed up on Thursday.
Both the private guards of the corporation and armed policemen as well as soldiers ensured that all vehicles going into the oil company were thoroughly searched. This led to slow vehicular movements at the NNPC headquarters in the Central Area of the FCT.
Well armed police officers were positioned in strategic locations in front of the corporation as some were seen in a black Land Cruiser jeep, which had its boot opened and some men sitting in it.
Officials of the oil firm stated that the enhanced measures were put in place to further protect the NNPC considering the tense level of insecurity nationwide.
“There is always security presence here, but, of course, the situation in Nigeria now has made it necessary to further strengthen the security architecture at the corporation,” the source stated on the condition of anonymity.
At Bwari, there was also anxiety when one of our correspondents visited the area.
One Aisha Adeleke told The PUNCH that she had already sent somebody to pick her children from school despite that it was not yet closing time.
“We only have one life, I cannot let anyone kidnap my children,” she told The PUNCH.
A lady simply identified as Nkiru also wondered why any boarding school would be in session despite the incessant cases of abduction in schools.
“I had to return home very early yesterday (Wednesday). I couldn’t sleep because I kept hearing sounds of motorcycles and I learnt those bandits ride motorcycles,” a taxi driver, Kabir said.
It was also learnt that Veritas University, Abuja, owned by the Catholic Church, which is located in Bwari, had sent its students home.
The PUNCH gathered on Thursday that the students, who were sent home on April 30, had been attending online classes from their homes pending further directives from the school management.
A former student of the school said, “My siblings who attend the school have been at home for some days attending online classes.
“The management shut down the school and sent the students away apparently to prevent a similar case with the Kaduna students’ abduction from happening here.
“From the look of things, the students would be home for some time.’’
A student of the school corroborated the development, saying that he had been home since last Friday.
When one of our correspondents visited the university, it was noticed that vehicles were subjected to intense search before being allowed into the premises
Our correspondent also attempted to find out the situation at the Nigerian Law School, Bwari but was told that the campus was not in session.
A drive round the Abuja city centre at about midday, however, showed that there was no noticeable increased security around buildings housing ministries, departments and agencies.
Meanwhile, the Guards Brigade Commander, Brigadier General Mohammed Usman, has declared that the nation’s capital is safe, adding that his troops who regularly patrol the FCT have not encountered any security threat.
The Presidential Guards Brigade is an elite brigade of the Nigerian Army responsible for protecting the President of Nigeria, the seat of power and the FCT.
Usman also dismissed reports that insurgents were targeting very important persons in the FCT, noting that he was not aware of any intelligence to that effect.
The brigadier- general said this on Thursday, while reacting to inquiries from The PUNCH about the security scare at the National Assembly following reports of possible attack by Boko Haram insurgents on the National Assembly complex and other public buildings in Abuja.
Usman stated that the seat of power was cool and calm, noting that there was no threat.
He said, “Last night (Wednesday night), there was a radio programme that armed Fulani men were coming to Abuja; my troops went and pinned them down in Gwagwadala. It took them three hours to locate them. They were on their way to Bauchi and Jos.
“We searched but found nothing dangerous on them and they were not on camels as rumoured.’’
Asked about the security alert from the Force Intelligence Bureau of the Nigeria Police Force sent to the National Assembly indicating that the insurgents were plotting to attack the FCT, Usman said, ‘’I’m not aware of the report that insurgents want to attack Abuja; Abuja is cool and calm.
“We carry out patrol in Abuja. I am not aware of the police alert, I was not copied. We (Brigade Commander and Police) hold meetings in the CP’s office. We are playing our own part to ensure security of lives and property; so, I don’t know where these reports of attack in Abuja are coming from. Abuja is okay and nobody is being attacked as far as I know.’’
Also, the Federal Capital Territory Administration on Thursday debunked a report that schools in the nation’s capital were shut due to insecurity.
The FCTA Education Secretariat stated that no security breach had been recorded in the territory, adding that schools that resumed for the third term last month had been running smoothly with daily and intensive monitoring and inspection mechanism in place by its various departments mandated with such responsibilities.
Quoting the Director, Administration and Finance in the secretariat, Leramoh Abdulrazaq, in a statement issued on Thursday, the secretariat’s Assistant Director, Information, Kabiru Musa allayed fears of parents, guardians, and stakeholders on the safety of their wards in schools within the FCT.
Abdulrazaq stated that the FCTA had continued to put all efforts and strategies in place to safeguard its territory despite the wave of insecurity across the country.
He said its schools were safe and expressed commitment to the security of students and pupils.
He stressed that “in the face of emerging security challenges, the Education Secretariat has continued to strengthen its security personnel and surveillance with strict adherence to security tips and ensuring conducive learning environment with full compliance with the COVID-19 protocols