In an open challenge to Nigeria’s security forces, the terrorist group, Boko Haram, has written a threatening letter promising to attack Chibok again very soon, in the process spreading panic through the town in South-eastern Borno where over 200 secondary schoolgirls were kidnapped over two months ago.
Some 276 students were kidnapped from Government Secondary School, Chibok on April 14 by members of the sect after they had laid siege to the town.
Of the 276 girls who were taken away, 57 have regained their freedom while 219 remain in captivity.
Since their kidnapping, Chibok has gained global prominence following the social media campaign and outcry, resulting in the establishment of a global coalition to find and rescue the female students.
However, the purported letter written by the terrorists is said to have caused severe panic in Chibok, whose residents continue to relive the April 14 incident and is forcing many of them to flee the town.
Briefing reporters in Maiduguri yesterday, a top official of Chibok Local Government Area said a letter had been received from the terrorist group, stating that the town would soon be visited with terror.
The official said they immediately went to show the letter to the police authorities who assured them of maximum protection.
He said though the police had assured the residents of Chibok of protection, the people were still panic stricken, insisting that “everyone knows that this sect cannot be warded off by a pocket of security men and that perhaps informed why they sent a letter to us to expect them”.
He added: “Whenever Boko Haram tells you that they are coming, they never fail to come. Our fear now is that we don’t know when and how they are going to come, but our people are living in terror. We are calling for prayers as well as the government to provide adequate security in Chibok.”
S’East Governors Warn Boko Haram
In a related incident, Sunday’s foiled bomb attack on the Winners Chapel in Owerri, Imo State, has elicited a stern warning from the South-east governors to Boko Haram militants to stay away from the geopolitical zone.
Issuing the warning yesterday after four of the five South-east governors met with President Goodluck Jonathan at the Presidential Villa in Abuja, the Anambra State Governor, Chief Willie Obiano, who spoke to the press at the end of the meeting said security arrangements had been made to forestall any plans by Boko Haram to carry out attacks in the area.
Obiano told State House correspondents that South-east had already placed the security forces on alert, adding: “No, they cannot get there. I can assure you of that. We will not allow that to happen. I cannot tell you in any material details about the bombs found or not found.
“All I can assure you is that we are very alert in the South-east and we are watching what is going on. I can assure you that Boko Haram cannot come to the South-east.”
He called on Nigerians to support Jonathan as he tackles the security challenges in the nation.
“Reckless utterances from politicians were boosting the confidence of the insurgents and putting tremendous pressure on the president,” he said.
Obiano said the South-east governors had come to assure Jonathan of their support.
Those in attendance were Obiano, Governor Theodore Orji of Abia, Governor Sullivan Chime of Enugu and Governor Martin Elechi of Ebonyi. The Imo State Governor, Rochas Okorocha, was absent.
Following the foiled attack Sunday, the police had said six suspects were arrested while improvised explosives devices (IEDs) were recovered from the church premises.
486 Terror Suspects Arrested in Abia
But it has emerged that arrests made by the Imo State Police Command were child’s play in comparison to the arrests made by the 144 Battalion of the Nigerian Army in Asa town, Ukwa West Local Government Area of Abia State, where 486 suspected insurgents from the northern part of the country were apprehended on Sunday.
The arrest of the 486 suspects were made known yesterday by the state Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Chief Eze Chikamnayo, while briefing newsmen at the military base in Asa.
The commander in charge of the battalion, Lt.-Col. Rasheed Omolori, who was at the press briefing, also confirmed the arrest.
However, he declined to give further details, saying the report of the arrest had been forwarded to the army headquarters in Abuja.
But the commissioner explained that the suspects were moving in a motorcade of 35 Toyota Hummer buses when they were intercepted at about 2 am on Sunday, adding that two buses escaped apprehension.
Both the suspects and the impounded vehicles were being detained at the Army base in Asa, he disclosed.
The registration numbers of the vehicles were Jigawa RNG 98XA; Osun RLG 176XA; Kano AF 411 DAL; Lagos BDG 487 XK; Abuja EP 86 ABC; and Bauchi ZAK 48 XA, among others. The buses have been impounded by the army authorities.
According to the commissioner, the convoy of the suspects was truncated by the army between Arungwa junction and Imo River Gate (the Abia/Rivers boundary), along the Port Harcourt-Enugu Expressway.
He explained that preliminary investigations by the army showed that the suspects, aged between 16 years and above, came from Kano, Taraba and Jigawa States.
Though the real mission of the suspects was not known immediately, Chikamnayo said further investigation would help to unravel the true mission of the suspects who, he said, claimed to be travelling to Port Harcourt “to look for work”.
“The movement is suspicious,” he said, wondering how the long motorcade travelled the long distance from the north to the east before being intercepted.
He commended the army and other security agencies in the state for being alive to their responsibilities and urged their counterparts in other states to rise to the challenge, in view of the spate of insecurity in the country.