Less than 48 hours to the reported threat of the Boko Haram sect to make Sunday (today) the bloodiest day since they began bombing of major cities in the North, the Police in Abuja have issued new operational guidelines on strategic deployment of their personnel to places under violent attacks.
It was gathered that churches, especially in the North and other places prone to bombing would be protected using the strategy.
Command Commissioners of Police and Assistant Inspectors-General received the order on Friday and have put their commands and men on the alert.
According to the order, deployments would be backed by motorised patrols equipped with communication gadgets.
Already, helicopters have been deplored in the violence-prone states.
The Deputy Force Public Relations Officer, Frank Mba, who confirmed this, however, declined to give details of the order.
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.”
This move by the police was further prompted by the belief that about 100 terrorists had invaded Jos, the capital of Plateau State in preparation for bombing the city on Sunday.
Already, the rumour has triggered apprehension among residents of the city which was compounded by the mayhem in Kaduna last week, which led to the death of over 60 persons.
Spokesman for the Special Task Force on security in Plateau State, Captain Salisu Mustapha, told SUNDAY PUNCH on Saturday, that information at their disposal suggested that some terrorists had infiltrated the state, preparatory to an attack.
The JTF said it was acting on some security information and was ready to resist any attempt to throw the state into turmoil.
Mustapha said, “Yes, we have received such information and we are acting on it. We are mobilising our men to counter any insurrection.
“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.”
Although nobody has been arrested, Mustapha added that security agencies in the state had been alerted so as not to be caught off guard.
Plateau State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Emmanuel Anyeni, had on Thursday confirmed that the threat of the terrorist group to unleash its worst mayhem was not an empty one.
He 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.”
The Police had last week sent a helicopter to Plateau for aerial surveillance of the state.
Apart from Plateau State, Kaduna State, which has become the latest target of bombings, received hundreds of policemen to guard its environs on Friday evening.
It was authoritatively gathered that the acting Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Mohammed Abubakar, had ordered that more policemen be drafted to Kaduna discreetly.
A police commissioner in the North-West Zone disclosed to one of our correspondents in Abuja after a special meeting on Thursday, that the IG held a security meeting with 36 state police commissioners, including the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, in response to Sunday’s threat.
“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.
The North-West Zone CP, who spoke in confidence, however, said only the presidency could solve the insurgency in the North.
He said, “Everybody keeps asking what the police are doing. What do they want the police to do? We are talking about people that are ready to die.
“How do you face someone that is ready to die? Even though the bombings are crimes and the perpetrators can be labelled criminals, I am telling you that it is an ideological problem.
“It is only President Goodluck Jonathan and members of his cabinet that have the solution to the crises.
“The police cannot maintain law and order by dealing with faceless people that are ready to die.”
In Kano, security was further tightened on Saturday as a police helicopter hovered around potential flashpoints in the metropolis on surveillance.
Armoured personnel Carriers were also prominent in the state
On Saturday, a convoy of about four large APCs went round the city centre. Our correspondent saw one of them on the Audu Bako Way about 11.15am.
A top police source who did not want his name mentioned said, “Security is tight in Kano. We have deployed intelligence officers everywhere.”
A cross-section of Christians in the city told our correspondent that they might not go to church on Sunday (today).
One of them who identified herself as Madam Chibuike 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”
The chairman of Christian Association of Nigeria, Kano State chapter, Bishop Ransom Bello, told SUNDAY PUNCH that Christians would not retaliate but that the situation had become worrisome.
“Our members are moving out of Kano permanently. What is happening to Christians is sad. But we don’t advocate any retaliation, since the Holy Bible teaches us that we should never retaliate.”
Meanwhile, churches in volatile cities are not depending on security agencies alone, as they have adopted strategies to contain any attack.
The Chairman of CAN, in Jos, Rev. Phillip Dafes, confirmed this on Friday.
Dafes said, “We have gone round and sensitised all the churches. We have told those that had not erected barricades around their churches to do so immediately, and we expect that they would have done so by Saturday.
“We have also gone round schools to put them on the alert and to let them know that if the terrorists are not able to get the churches, they may target schools and even tertiary institutions.
“They are to intensify checks on people entering their churches. If they detect anybody who is not their member, they should quickly alert security agents near them.
“We are also partnering with security agencies and we have met with the state security service and the police, and they are ready to do everything possible to protect worshippers not only on Sunday (today) but also every time,” he added.
At the Holy Trinity Catholic Church, Maitama, which is one of the biggest churches in Abuja, our correspondent noticed that concrete barriers had been erected at the entrance of the church, apparently to guard against any suicide bomber who wishes to drive into the church premises.
Vehicles were not allowed inside the church.
A security man at the church gate, who did not disclose his name, said the high-profile nature of personalities comprising governors, ministers and other top government officials frequenting the place made it a choice target for the sect.
This has informed the deployment of metal detectors at the entrance, as well as the other security measures, including the erection of the concrete barriers, and closing the church’s surroundings to traffic during masses on Sundays.
Similar barricades were seen at the Living Faith Church, Kubwa, Abuja and the St. Theresa’s Catholic Church in Madalla, Niger State.
The Parish Priest of St. Theresa’s Catholic Church, Rev. Fr. Isaac Achi, however said no matter the security being put in place against terrorists, only God’s security was supreme.
Speaking with our correspondent on the telephone he said, “As far as we are concerned, security is from God and it is only God that can save us. The only advice is that people have to be alert and proactive, especially in the area of security to be able to deter them from getting access to our environment.
“You can see that these people no longer use vehicles but they now wear the explosives and they adopt new means of escaping and beating security operatives. So it is very difficult to tell; security is from God.”