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Prominent pro-South socio-political organisations have warned the rampaging islamist sect, Boko Haram to steer clear of Lagos State with a vow that any attack by insurgents in the nation’s economic nerve centre will spell doom for the nation’s already fragile unity. The ethnic groups, Oodua Peoples Congress, OPC, Afenifere and Ohanaeze spoke in separate interviews against the backdrop of last week’s claim by the leader of Boko Haram, Sheik Abubakar Shekau that the sect was responsible for the June 25 explosion within the premises of Folawiyo Energy fuel depot on Creek road in Apapa area of Lagos. Two persons, including a suspected female suicide bomber were believed to have died in the incident which security agencies downplayed to avoid panic and reprisal attacks in the city of more than 21 million residents. Security sources said a confirmed attack by Boko Haram could cause serious trouble in Lagos which is both an international business hub and a melting pot of ethnicities from the mostly Christian South and Muslim North that have fought street battles in the past, according to reports from Daily Sun. “A bomb went off in Lagos. I ordered (the bomber) who went and detonated it. You said it was an ordinary fire, but it was me in that fire. Well, you can hide it from people but you can’t hide it from Allah,” Shekau said in a video message which shows him next to gunmen in front of two armoured personnel carriers and two pickup trucks. Notwithstanding efforts by the Lagos state government and security agencies to ease tension by attributing the fuel depot explosion to a gas canister, surveillance and security patrols have since been beefed up across the state with regular stop and search check points mounted by the police. Besides, the Immigration Service in the state has also sent out operatives to arrest residents suspected to be illegal aliens, with at least 1820 of them already rounded up and deported in the last two weeks. The state government is equally strengthening its emergency and medical services personnel with the recruitment of about 260 graduates of the School of Health Technology at a go about a fortnight ago. While the government and security agencies are doing everything to prevent possible terror attacks in Lagos and equally bracing up for emergency response to any, the predominant ethnic nationalities in the state are, however, talking tough. Reacting to the threat of the sect to Lagos’ tranquility, Yoruba socio-cultural group, Afenifere warned Boko Haram against exporting its terror activities to the state or any part of Yoruba land, as that will mark the end of the country. The organisation’s spokesman, Yinka Odumakin, in a telephone interview with Saturday Sun said any further attacks will spell doom and make the beginning of the end of Nigeria come faster than expected. According to him, the Yoruba nation has watched over the period how they have been receiving body bags from the North who were victims of Boko Haram activities. He pointed out that there is hardly any town or village in Yoruba land where there is no would one grave of victim of Boko Haram bomb attacks. “Sometimes ago, market women from Ibadan went to market in the North and their money over N40million was taken and about eight of them were brought back as body bags”, he stated. He noted that when the explosion happened in Lagos, people suspected it was a bomb blast and terror attack but the police kept on covering up. “Now they want to come to Lagos, I want to say that the Yorubas have always defended their land and still ready to defend it. Now that they are coming at a time the delegates at the confab are talking about setting aside five per cent of oil money for the rehabilitation of the North east and their boys want to come to destroy our own land. This is not what the Yorubas will stomach; for some people to come and destroy our land, that will not in anyway be allowed, we will resist it with every available means”, Afenifere added. The group’s spokesman further said that with the entry of Boko Haram to Southwest, “Nigeria is moving to five minutes to midnight and unless the sponsors of Boko Haram call them to order, this may be the beginning of the end of Nigeria.” He said Yorubas have never been aggressors but “when I said we are going to defend our land, I didn’t mean we would be aggressive but we will defend our land. Go back to history, we defended our land against the jihadists and so Shekau and his group will not succeed this time.” In the same vein, leader of Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC), Otunba Gani Adams, said from information available to them, the police tried to cover up that the explosion in Apapa was bomb attack by Boko Haram. He said it is time that every Yoruba person prepares to defend themselves and the land because the race can’t afford to have the kind of casualty that the North has recorded from the Islamist sect. “I don’t see any reason Boko Haram should bring its evil plans to South west. Here in the South west, there is no room for religious fanaticism. If Shekau and his boys believe that they should come and cause havoc in this region, which means they are not fighting for Islam, Islam does not even encourage violence and that means their target is political and to destroy Nigeria, and no more religion. Coming here to plant bomb means you want to make Lagos an Islamic state, a place that has many Christians, Muslims and even traditionalists”, he stated. According to Adams, had God not intervened, the bomb could have affected majority of the Apapa community. “I think everybody living in South west should be vigilant, it is not only the Yorubas as most businesses in Lagos are owned by non-Yorubas, so they have the right to defend themselves and properties. The statement of Shekau shows that the havoc the sect is causing has serious political undertone”, he added. On what his organisation is going to do in this regard, he said, the challenge of Boko Haram and others is beyond what government’s security apparatus and agencies alone can handle. “There is no governor that has ever asked me what we could do in this situation, what kind of assistance we can offer because the sect has already arrived in our region. “As an individual, apart from being the leader of OPC, I have strong security network and as a person leading over one million people, I think I’m entitled to be invited to discuss the way forward for the security in the region”, he stressed. Also, the President of Ohanaeze Nd’igbo, Lagos, Chief Fabian Onwughalu has called on Igbos in the state to defend themselves with available means whenever they are attacked. Onwughalu wondered why the sect should for whatever reason venture into Lagos. On the preparedness of the police to secure the state against the insurgent group, Force Public Relations Officer, Mr. Frank Mba, an Assistant Commissioner of Police, confirmed the heavy security presence in Lagos, but noted: “Whatever security in Lagos has always been there and we will continue to improve on it.” According to him, the Inspector General of Police, Alhaji M. D. Abubakar has placed policemen nationwide on red alert and numerous covert operations going on everywhere, even as surveillance is being intensified as the presence of police is felt and noticed everywhere. He noted the synergy among all security agencies and called for the collaboration of the citizens to overcome the security challenge posed by the insurgent group. He said: “Counter terrorism operations are being intensified nationwide, there are series of covert operations going on. Surveillance is being intensified, while police is also increasing its visibility in strategic locations, particularly around soft targets and critical infrastructure. “There are also intensive inter agency collaboration, going on and we want to believe that with the support of the citizens and the help of God Almighty, we will defeat them.” In this vein, he urged people to continue to be vigilant, report all suspicious movements and occurrences in their areas to the nearest security agencies as well as continue to support the police and other law enforcement agencies in their very important task of safeguarding the nation. A month before the twin explosions in Apapa, a popular clergy and General Overseer of Resurrection Praise Ministries International, Archbishop Samson Benjamin Mustapha had sent a security alert revealing that the Boko Haram sect was presently in Lagos, receiving training and strategising on how to bomb some areas in the state. The Archbishop in a press conference held in Lagos had said the sect intended to bomb the Corporate Headquarters of Thisday Newspapers at Apapa for the alleged publication against Prophet Mohammed sometime ago and Kirikiri Maximum Prisons so as to forcefully release their colleagues. Mustapha explained that the sect’s most recent meeting venue was at Oluti bus stop, along Lagos- Badagry expressway. “There is a Mosque there called Bilal Mas Jid where they are planning the attacks. This information is confirmed and I have already alerted security operatives about it.” The clergy said the security alert is aimed at forestalling the impending attack and called on the security operatives to immediately go into action. “The bombings, killings have been too much that we have to rise and speak the truth. As a clergy, If do not speak the truth and expose evil, who else do I expect to do so. God has raised people like us to come out to speak the truth so that Nigeria can be free from some of this evil.” Mustapha also explained that the Boko Haram members, while in prison custody, communicate with their colleagues through phones sent to them by some powerful Nigerians in high positions. “These cellphones are sent to them through cooked foods like Semovita, with prepared instructions and guidelines written”. The clergy insisted that he knows those behind Boko Haram, especially serving ministers and will expose them at the right time. “I will not like to mention the names of those behind Boko Haram now. They are even at the seat of power, but I will expose them later.” To fight Boko Haram to a standstill, he urged the government to have a strong will because, “l’m ready to mention names. I’m ready to prove my case anywhere I am called upon. I am ready to show what they are doing. I’m doing this based on the pledge that if I die in the process, I die a fulfilled man. But I will not die because God will not want to take me now based on the people of God I am leading as a pastor. Boko Haram does not give life and cannot take my own life.” Speaking on the vulnerability of Lagos to Boko Haram attacks, renowned security expert, Dr Ona Ekhomu noted: “We are hoping and praying desperately because the reason for that is the sect wants to expand the conflict.” According to him, their goal is to destroy this country by causing a North-South conflagration, where all northerners will start killing Southerners and vice versa. “You remember in 2012, when they gave an expulsion order. They have even enforced that order. They are systematically killing people quietly. There are so many unknown throats slashing, so much so that a House of Representatives member said that 80 per cent of Boko Haram killing might be unreported. “They have been trying but Lagos is not vulnerable. For a threat to materialize, there is vulnerability and that is where Lagos has been strong. Lagos security is very strong and purposeful. There are people in this town working on the security of Lagos State on how to prevent Boko Haram attack, even when you and I are sleeping all night. It is what is keeping you and I safe, it is not that God is not playing his part because Boko Haram members also argue that God is keeping them safe too.” The security expert said the only reason Boko Harm has not struck in Lagos is not because they do not have men on ground. “They have men on ground because Boko Haram is an ideology, it is not an organisation with a certificate of incorporation but an ideology of extremism. It is an ideology of hate and fundamentalism that is what it is all about. “There are people who have been radicalized just by listening and seeing what is going on because of their low mentality. Even before Osama Bin Laden was killed, he said to his adherents, go into the hinterlands not as preachers but as artisans and eventually when there is a call, you will act. It is called pre-positioning. This came from Pakistan intelligence. It is a worldwide war of fundamentalism. “Even if they set themselves on fire, they are satisfied so long as they get the kind of publicity they want. This is what terror is all about. It is about creating panic; terror, creating lack of rest of mind and making it appears that the government of the day is incapable of protecting the citizens.” He said to enjoy full security, everybody has to become enrolled while he called on people to look out for suspicious packages and vehicles. He also pointed out that bomb components could be put together in parts. “ When you see somebody buying a lot of dead cords, it is a problem, when you see someone buying fertilizer, it’s a problem, when you see someone that does not have a generator but buying a lot of fuel it is a problem. These are indicators, that someone is acquiring capabilities. You see somebody conducting surveillance of a facility, it’s a problem. Usually, terrorists will not attack an individual residence unless they are angry. They will attack churches, mosques, schools and government buildings, court buildings. They attack places where they can cause mass casualties”, he stated. It would be recalled that on March 21, 2013, about 100 soldiers including men of the State Security Service raided a terrorist hideout in Ijora, Lagos. They arrested two people in the process. One of the suspects, Ibrahim Musa, occupied five rooms in one of the buildings where they discovered a bomb in a cooler and another hidden inside the ceiling of one of the rooms where Musa stayed. They also found AK-47 rifles, cartridges and daggers. Musa reportedly the leader of the gang was described as an illegal immigrant from Chad. The soldiers had warned the residents to be watchful because Boko Haram members had penetrated the area, particularly the Hausa settlement. That raid of Ijora came a month after the SSS discovered a terror network coordinated allegedly by Iranians in Lagos.

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