The federal government has described the multiple rocket attacks in Maiduguri by the Islamic State of West Africa Province (ISWAP) ahead of the President Muhammadu Buhari’s visit to Borno State last Thursday as worrisome.
The Inspector-General of Police, Usman Baba stated this while briefing State House Correspondents on the outcome of an emergency National Security Council (NSC) meeting presided over by President Buhari at the presidential villa.
This is just as the federal government allayed the fears of Nigerians over the reported planned attack by terrorists on Abuja, the nation’s capital.
ISWAP had launched multiple rockets on Maiduguri, the state capital, hours before the visit of the President to Borno State.
Five people were killed and many houses destroyed by the ISWAP rockets that landed in different areas, including Ngomari, Bulumkutu, Ajilari, and Ayafe communities.
The IG, however, said the insurgents were unable to achieve their objectives.
“They are launching it in major towns, they are launching it in Maiduguri. It is a concern. And it has been seriously checkmated. There are efforts to continuously checkmate it,” Baba said.
He stressed that although the government and the security forces were particularly concerned about the rocket attacks, the target of the terrorists was defeated by security forces.
According to him, President Buhari, during the meeting, tasked all security and intelligence chiefs in attendance to increase the heat against the terrorists and all other criminals, saying none should be spared.
The IG said they were asked to spare no terrorist or criminal, adding that the target now should be crime prevention.
He said: “The marching orders are always the same; you have even told Nigerians the marching orders of the President. It has always been the same; there is no space, there is no tolerance to any threat to security.
“There is no sparing of any terrorist and there must be an intelligence gathering, there must be proactive prevention of crime and there must be checkmating of all those that are involved in criminal activities, whether it is terrorism, banditry or armed robbery or whatever and that is what we are trying to do to the best of our knowledge and ability.”
On why there are so many policemen deployed to the South-east region of the country, seemingly more than to areas considered more prone to violent crimes, Usman said population, economic activities and other factors determine deployment.
He said: “You said it is an allegation which has not been proven, it has always been an allegation. The spaces are different, the whole of the South-east, in terms of landmass, might not be as large as Niger State, so certainly you may see a number of policemen within a very small space, trying to do policing work and you may see another number, not equal, doing much more than that.
“But when we talk about policing a population or policing a place where there is economic activity or policing in a place where there are more threats, then certainly you have to put more men to govern that small space and that is what you are seeing.
Also speaking to newsmen, Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, allayed fears among Nigerians, especially the residents of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, over reported planned attack on Abuja, saying there is no cause for worry.
The minister said: “There isn’t any threat to the safety and security of Abuja. Abuja is secure and very safe. If there was a leak, as you mentioned, it could just be an operational alert that does not require any worry or concern. The Council has mandated us to assure Nigerians of their safety, of their security and enduring peace for the period of the festivities.
“The message of the Security Council, through you to Nigerians, is that all measures for the safety and security of the Nigerian people and Nigeria, are in place for a successful and happy celebration of the yuletide and the New Year. Compliment of the season to all of us from the President and members of the Security Council.”
Before the commencement of the security meeting, the President swore-in the newly-appointed Minister of State for Works and Housing, Muazu Sambo.
In attendance at the security meeting yesterday were Vice President Yemi Osinbajo; Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha and the National Security Adviser, Major General Babagana Monguno (retd.).
Others include Minister of Defense, Major General Bashir Magashi (retd.); Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola; Chief of Defense Staff, General Lucky Irabor; Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Farouk Yahaya; Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Awwal Gambo; and the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Isiaka Amao.
Also present were the Inspector-General; the Director-General of the Department of State Service, Yusuf Bichi; and the Director-General of the National Intelligence Agency, Ahmed Abubakar.