By WILLY EYA and OMONIYI SALAUDEEN
As security agencies battle with the reported plot by Boko Haram to bomb Lagos, Nigeria’s economic nerve centre, the Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC) has once again served notice that it would go to war should the dreaded sect make good its threat. The Yoruba group said that an attack on Lagos is akin to calling for war, and warned the Islamist sect to steer clear of the ‘Centre of Excellence.’
Elder statesman and founder of the OPC, Dr Fredrick Fasehun who handed down the warning in an exclusive interview with Sunday Sun, was emphatic that people of the South West would stop at nothing to resist the sect’s planned violent infiltration of Lagos. He said that people of the zone would carry out reprisal attacks in the event of bombing Lagos, the hub of the nation’s economic activities. “Boko Haram has no business in Lagos but if they attempt to bomb Lagos, they are calling for war and in warfare, reprisal is right.
What I can assure you is that if they come, we will not run into the bush. We will do everything possible to discourage the sect from coming to our own part of the country”, he said. Dr Fasehun who described members of Boko Haram as faceless, said people of the South West would beam their searchlight on the known sponsors of the sect if Lagos was attacked, insisting that the sect should not extend its activities to the South West. “If the sect bombs Lagos, the main sponsors of their activities would pay dearly for it”, he said. He, however, expressed doubts over the authenticity of the reported plot by the sect even though he was quick to add that no information is unimportant in issues of security.
Also reacting to the alleged plot, the National Coordinator of Ijaw Monitoring Group (IMG), Comrade Joe Evah, urged the Presidency to prevail on security chiefs in the country to sit up. He decried the rising insecurity of lives and property in the nation and warned that any attempt to bomb Lagos would completely cut off Nigeria from the international community. “There is no more security in Nigeria. Security chiefs should be made to tell Nigerians how Boko Haram members were allowed to enter Lagos. I remember that there was a report sometime, that the sect wanted to bomb Third Mainland bridge. We hope the security agencies are working”, he said.
He observed that Lagos State governor, Babatunde Fashola, has not come out with his government’s stand on the arrest of some alleged Boko Haram suspects in Badia, Ijora. He wondered why Governor Fashola had not visited Badia long after many suspects were arrested in the area. Evah expressed worries that gunmen recently invaded the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos, saying that no investor would like to settle in a country with such levels of insecurity. But Senator Musiliu Obanikoro saw the threat as the handiwork of All Progressives Congress (APC). “You know the genesis of Boko Haram; it was a creation of ANPP in Borno State, to oppress and suppress people for electoral reasons. “Now, it has become a cancer. It has eaten Borno, Yobe and even almost all of the North. In fact, the whole of the North is already devastated. No local or foreign investor will go there.
“It is about spreading to the South. So, I want to appeal to Boko Haram that they should not bring it to Lagos. They should sheathe their swords. Enough is enough. We don’t want war in Nigeria. If a bomb explodes somewhere, there is tendency for people to retaliate. “I also want to implore our people to be more vigilant. What happened in Ijora was a good example of being vigilant in your neighbourhood. If it were in the North, nobody would talk”, he said. The threat to bomb Lagos reverberated in Abuja on Wednesday when Service Chiefs briefed the Senate on the spate of insecurity in the country. Led by the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Admiral Sa’ad Ola Ibrahim, Lt. Gen Azubuike Ihejirika (Army) Vice Admiral Dele Ezeoba (Navy), Air Marshal Alex Badeh (Air Force), and Mr. Ita Ekpeyong of the State Security Services (SSS), briefed the Senate behind closed doors.
The briefing took about five and a half hours. It would be recalled that the SSS had, last month, arrested a middle-aged man allegedly responsible for recruiting and training would-be members of the Boko Haram sect in the South-West, with emphasis on Lagos and its environs. The suspect, who was said to have connections with Iranian terrorist groups, and mandated to establish cells for the group in the zone, was reported to have succeeded in recruiting some followers before he was apprehended, along with four others, who were later paraded before newsmen.
Thursday’s operation at the Ijora Badia, in Lagos Mainland was said to be part of efforts being made by the SSS in conjunction with other security agencies, to checkmate the activities of the sect from spreading to the South-West because of its political, social and economic implications on the country in general. Meanwhile, the suspect identified as a Chadian, and another member of the sect nabbed in the raid, are undergoing interrogation.