There is heightened security in troubled northern Nigeria ahead of Sabath day, as police officers and security agents have been deployed into major cities in Nigeria’s restive north.
Abuja police, the Punch reported, have launched an a new operational guideline and strategic deployment of personnel in key cities where the radical Islamist Boko Haram sect have been known to strike.
The month of June has witnessed several attacks targeting Christian places of worship, especially on Sundays, and the sect has reportedly vowed to intensify attacks in its bid to make June its bloodiest month yet.
Police Commissioners and Assistant Inspectors-General received orders on Friday to put their commands on alert. The security officials will be backed by motorised patrol units equipped with communications gadget.
Deputy Force Public Relations Officer, Frank Mba, said helicopters have also been deployed to trouble spots, but declined divulging further information.
He said, “The new operational order will assist commanders on effective deployment of personnel so that they can repel, contain and manage attacks on places of worship, government buildings and installations.
“Our men have been placed on the alert even before the Boko Haram threat and we will do everything humanly possible to protect citizens and public facilities.”
In a recent Sahara Reporters’ article, an alleged Boko Haram source revealed that over 300 insurgents have been dispatched, ready to wreck more havoc in the already tense north.
The rumour has the north ill at ease, and tensions are especially high in Kaduna, still reeling from the impact of last Sunday’s church bombings and subsequent reprisal and counter-reprisal attacks.
Over 60 persons were reportedly killed in those attacks. Not willing to allow more Sunday bombings as usual, key cities are amping up security.
Salisu Mustapha, spokesman for the Special Task Force on security in the north central state, told reporters that they have received intelligence of a possible infiltration by militants and pending attacks.
As such the JTF has mobilised men to “counter any insurrection”, Mustapha said.
“We don’t take any information with a pinch of salt. Every information is evaluated and proper procedure (reaction) taken, and this one is not an exception.”
No arrests have been made, but the city remains of guard, Mustapha says. Police Commissioner on Thursday said his men were treating the information as credible.
Emmanuel Ayeni said: “This bomb threat is real, very real and I know it because I’m in a position to know as the state commissioner of police.”
“We are almost in a state of emergency and everyone is looking for a way of surviving and by the grace of God, very soon everything will be over.”
A chopper was sent to the state last week for aerial surveillance.
Hundreds of police officers were deployed to Kaduna on Friday evening even as the state struggles to maintain calm in the midst of religious tensions, panic and grief. Reports say the acting IGP, Mohammed Abubakar ordered more men be deployed to the state, discreetly.
The police boss had reportedly met with police commissioners from all 36 states last week to strategize ahead of Sunday, but the police boss is keeping their plans confidential.
“Yes, more of our men have gone to Kaduna. I can’t tell you their number but they are there. We will try our best to maintain peace and order but government has the solution,” the police boss said.
Aerial surveillance is active in Kano state, where a helicopter is making the rounds over flashpoints in Nigeria’s second largest city.
Armoured vehicles were spotted in the state and a top police source assured that intelligence officers have been deployed in the city.
Churches not relying on police
Despite their well-meaning efforts, churches in the troubled north are not leaving their safety in the hands of police and security officials. Many churches are choosing to get their own security and implement their own safety measures.
Worshippers will all be searched thoroughly before gaining admission into the premises, a CAN official said. An Abuja church, attended by some top government officials, has reinforced its concrete walls and is now barring vehicles from entering into the premises.
Some worshippers have adopted avoidance as their safety measure of choice, opting to stay out of church on Sunday.
Madam Chibuike who spoke to the Punch said, “These people (terrorists) have always done what they say they will do. I am afraid of this particular threat because the government and security agencies seem to have run out of solutions to the problem.
“My family and I will have to do our worship at home”