DSS Discovers Boko Haram Cells in Abuja
The Department of State Services (DSS) has alerted members of the public that the Boko Haram terrorist group has continued to establish and operate sleeper cells with the sole mandate to conduct surveillance and subsequently carry-out attacks in Abuja and other parts of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
This is coming as the Nigerian Army made a strategic advancement and gains in Sambisa forest, Borno State, where they discovered several Boko Haram tunnels.
The DSS in a statement yesterday, said the disclosure had become necessary following the arrests of the sect’s members who migrated from various conflict theatres in the North East to the FCT in order to enable them capitalise on the excitement of the yuletide season to launch attacks in the city.
"For instance, on October 29, the duo of Muhammed Hassan Idris (a Nigerien) and Baba Abdul Maina were arrested at Panteka area of Apo, Abuja. This was followed by the arrest of Sanni Mohammed (aka Kakase) and Ahmed Umaru (aka Mallam; Mallam Hamdi Garne; Ahmed Daubi) in Lafia, Nasarawa State. Sanni, who hails from Potiskum, Yobe State, fled the area following his involvement in coordinated suicide attacks in Yobe, Plateau, Kano and Kaduna States," the DSS said in a statement signed by Tony Opuiyo.
In a related development, he said, on November 19, Mohammed Shiwar Abubakar and Musa Ta'ada were arrested at Shoprite Junction, Apo, Abuja.
"Abubakar hails from Borno State and operates as a taxi driver in Abuja. He is of an unknown address but claims that he sleeps in his Volkswagen Golf car at the Honda line, Apo mechanic village, Abuja. The Gwoza-born Ta'ada also operates under the cover of a suya seller at Apo Primary School along Kabusa Road, Abuja," he explained.
Still, on November 23, Opuiyo revealed, one Ahmed Hassan was arrested while carrying out surveillance on a high-profile hotel in the city.
He said that the suspect, who hails from Katagum, Bauchi State, admitted using the cover of a beggar to sustain surveillance on his targets; while Bulama Ali, had previously been arrested in Karu, Nasarawa State, on November 22.
In the same vein, he said that one Hassan Abubakar and Mohammed Gwale Mohammed were on December 1 arrested at Madalla, in Suleja LGA of Niger State following intelligence that they were planning to commence attacks in the FCT after a successful surveillance of the city.
Before his arrest, Opuiyo stated, Abubakar was working with other sect members in different parts of the country notably Borno, Yobe, Taraba and Adamawa States.
"Abubakar was arrested in the house of Mohammed Gwale who claims to be a Federal Civil Servant from Niger State. He (Gwale) has made useful statements which are helping with further investigation," he added.
He noted that so far, preliminary investigations reveal that the suspects and others still at large may have adopted their respective trades as plausible covers to infiltrate the city and its environs in their bid to conduct successful surveillance and map out soft targets for the sect’s attacks.
"The DSS’ operations are, therefore, aimed at preempting any attacks by the terrorist elements against the backdrop of the upcoming festive period and beyond.
"It is in this regard that the Service wishes to advise residents and all law abiding Nigerians to remain vigilant especially at this yuletide season and promptly report to security agencies any suspicious movements and persons in the FCT and even other parts of the country," he stressed.
Opuiyo also assured the general public that the service would continue to carry out its responsibility of ensuring peace and security in Abuja and beyond.
In a related development, the Nigerian Army in its ongoing efforts to rid the North Eastern part of the country of Boko Haram terrorists have advanced deep inside Sambisa forest where mop up operations have been yielding the desired results.
The Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt-Gen. Tukur Buratai who has been on a week-long operational visit to the war theatre, confirmed the progress to THISDAY yesterday.
Buratai who has also visited many battle fronts as well, briefed the Chief of Defence Staff (CDSS), Gen. Abayomi Olonisakin, at the Military Command and Control Centre, 7Division Nigerian Army, Maiduguri. He said the military had apprehended many terrorist kingpins including the chief camera man of Boko Haram.
He also disclosed that the troops with the recent gains had discovered some network of tunnels inside the Sambisa forest.
"We are deep inside Sambisa Forest. Checkout the tunnel," he said with pictorial evidence.
He also noted that other facilities used by Boko Haram to prosecute their insurgency were also captured, with some women and children liberated.
In another development, the Minister of Informational and National Orientation, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has disclosed
that the Federal Government will soon launch National Security Campaign Policy aimed at mobilising the citizens support and buy-in to the counter-terrorism operation against Boko Haram.
Mohammed disclosed this yesterday at the Operation Lafiya Dole Media Centre, Maiduguri, when he visited Borno State to inspect the military operations in parts of the North East.
He said that without the support of the civil populace there was little the military could do to defeat terrorism in the country.
The minister expressed regret that Nigerians instead of supporting the military, have viewed the war against terror from religious, ethnic and regional perspective, saying the country needs the kind of citizens' participation of 1967-70 civil war period.
He said: "We all know what was the situation few months ago and what it is today. I learnt that both the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) and Chief of Army Staff (CDS) are here on ground in the theatre of operation not because we are coming. We are here to get the first hand information that the military is winning the war. This is because there are so many resettlement centres where the civilians are coming back. The military has been better than the civilians in this war against terror because the population has not taken the war as theirs. They still see it as an ethnic, religious and regional angle.
"We will launch national security campaign for Nigerians to take possession of the war. The same way they took control of the war during the 1967-70's. While the military has done their own beat, we the civilians have to do ours, which is intelligence gathering. Our ministry will take possession of this, especially in this period of festivity. We will partner the National Security Campaign policy, which we will launch very soon. We will meet regularly with ONSA and other security agencies on how we can bridge the information gap. Nobody in the world has succeeded in the world in fighting the insurgency through the military alone, some of the causes include bad governance, poverty and unemployment. However, we need to put more emphasis on deradicalisation and to say Boko Haram is not about Islam but pure evil."
Speaking further, Mohammed who later on visited Bama operational area said that the military was on course to meeting the December deadline. He however clarified that this does not mean that suicide bombings will cease immediately.
He added that what President Muhammadu Buhari ordered was to militarily liberate all Nigerian territory from the control of the terrorists by the end of the year.
"We have said we want to see the end of Boko Haram by the end of December but what we are saying is that military will reclaim all the terrorists. But if anybody is expecting that by January 1, 2015 bombing will end, you are mistaking. There will always be lone wolf bombers and similar bombings on soft targets. However, what we are targeting is that by the end of December all our territories are liberated and they are almost there," he said.
Earlier, the Theatre Commander, Operation Lafiya Dole, Maj-Gen. Yushau Mamud Abubakar, said that Boko Haram activities have greatly been degraded.
Abubakar also disclosed that the military are making efforts to clear the operational area which includes Adamawa, Borno, Yobe, parts of Gombe and Bauchi, of Boko Haram presence, especially in Sambisa forest.
To this end, he said, that the troops have liberated over 80 towns and villages in the North East. He however agreed with the minister that the military cannot do much without the support of the civil populace and called for the support of the citizenry
The Commander also called for the support of the Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and other relevant bodies in the area of humanitarian assistance and rebuilding of the affected towns and communities.
He said: "Boko Haram activities have been greatly degraded but despite that the terrorists have resorted to attacking soft targets. So we are making efforts to clear the area of terrorists, particularly the Sambisa. However, the humanitarian activities are challenging and therefore, we are appealing to both national and international NGOs for assistance.
"The recent gains by the military has led to the recovery of several territories from the terrorists and have allowed the civil authorities to move in. Currently there are over 80 towns and villages (86) that have been liberated within the 7 and 3rd Divisions.
"This operation is what requires everyone to participate and I can tell you that with peoples cooperation as their civic duty providing the necessary information, Boko Haram is gone. This is because even you mobilise all the military, there is little they can do since they cannot fill all the spaces."