There was serious tension in Jos, the Plateau State capital, yesterday, as the major streets in and around the city were blocked by security agents following security reports that improvised explosive devices (IEDs) had been planted in certain places in the city.
The security agencies were out to unearth the explosives.
This development grounded commercial and other activities in the city even as banks were closed and market places shut against customers.
Famous Ahmadu Bello Way, Murtala Mohammed Way, Beach Road and Rwang Pam Street were all closed against motorists.
The operation which caused a gridlock in the few streets that were left opened, left passengers stranded in a heavy down pour and thunderstorm.
Apprehensive residents were left at the mercy of diverse rumours before the Special Task Force (STF) later issued a statement.
While some rumours attributed the shutdown to the state government’s attempt to effect the ban on street trading in Terminus area and its environs, others had it that security agents took the action to pave way for a visit by Vice-President Namadi Sambo to the site of the recent blast.
The STF Media and Information Officer, Captain Ikedichi Iweaha, later issued a statement, saying the task force had been conducting the operations around the affected areas since 1a.m. yesterday.
He said: “We had to block some areas to make sure that innocent citizens don’t get caught up in the line of fire but once we are through, we will open the roads so that people can go about their normal business.”
The statement added: “The attention of the public by this release is drawn to an ongoing military operation in the heart of Jos city. The operation which began at about 1:45 p.m this morning is aimed at preventing any loss of lives and property of the good people of the state.
“To this end, the following roads are temporarily shut down to prevent innocent members of the public from being caught in the line of fire. These include Yantaya Junction, ECWA Goodnews road, Old Bukuru Junction, Terminus Junction, Rwang Pam Street, Kashim Ibrahim junction by Ahmadu Bello Way(including Hamaz and Unity Bank Junction), Murtala Mohammed Way (University of Jos old campus), and Beach Road by Zenith Bank.”
The statement which advised members of the public to keep off the closed streets and use alternative routes, assured them to go about their normal businesses elsewhere “as adequate security arrangements are in place to protect them.”
The task force solicited for the cooperation of the public in the area of information to help its work.
“While the STF will not relent in its part to ensure that peace is achieved and this phase passes quickly, it relies on the provision of prompt information to ensure that no group of terrorists will cause harm to the populace,” it said.