Thursday, December 25, 2014

How We Averted Terrorist Attacks on Churches in Nigeria –IGP
Nigerian Mirror
Dec 26, 2014

The Inspector General of Police, IGP, Suleiman Abba, yesterday confirmed that plans by terrorists to attack churches during the Christmas celebration were thwarted by the combined efforts of security agencies.

Abba, who spoke after monitoring the security situation in the Federal Capital Territory, confirmed receiving intelligence reports of plans by criminal gangs to launch terror attacks on Christian worshippers during the Christmas services in many churches.

The IGP hailed Nigerians for cooperating with the police to ensure a hitch-free Christmas celebration.

He told journalists of how the synergy with sister- security agencies ensured that terror attacks on churches were prevented.

He said the proactive steps taken by all security agencies, as well as the efficient sharing of intelligence helped to forestall such attacks.

“My presence in particular is part of the effort to make sure we live up to expectation. Truly, we continue to receive reports of plans to disrupt the Christmas festivity but the police and other security agencies have all beefed up their operations to make sure that people not just enjoy the festivity but to have a feeling and sense of safety.

That is why you can see the number of deployments we have made,” he said. He expressed delight that as at 3pm when most church services were over, he had not received reports of any attack.

Abba however said that with so many activities associated with the festivity, the police will continue to scale up efforts at protecting Nigerians.

The IGP, who was also at the Jabi Lake in Abuja to monitor the safety of funseekers, however, urged the public to support police operatives in the prevention of crimes.

In Borno State, thousands of Christian faithful in Maiduguri, the state capital thronged the various churches amidst tight security.

It would be recalled that the 7 Division, Nigerian Army had on Monday announced a ban on vehicular movement in and around Maiduguri metropolis and its environs following intelligence reports that some group of terrorists were planning to attack the city and cause severe havoc during the Christmas.

Our correspondent, who went round some areas such as Damboa Road, Jerusalem, Maduganari among other places within the metropolis, observed that most of the churches such as E.Y.N Maduganari, Tanki, Wulari/Jerusalem were filled to the brim.

Many people could not travel to their various towns and villages, either as a result of the closure of major roads or the sacking of such communities by Boko Haram insurgents. Residents of Jos, the Plateau State capital also celebrated Christmas festival under tight security.

Our correspondent observed that along the major roads in the capital city and environs, stern looking security operatives were seen conducting stop and search operations.

Also, some of the worship centres in and around Jos were heavily guarded by security operatives as worshippers thronged in for Christmas service.

However, unlike the previous year, the popular NTA Children Park, Solomon Lar Amusement Park, Langfield Resort and PRTV playing ground were empty without the usual presence of children and fanfare.

Security operatives like Directorate of State Security Service, DSS, Police, the Special Task Force on Jos crisis, STF, and member of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, NSCDC, were seen patrolling the streets of Jos.

Speaking with our correspondent, the state Police Public Relations Officer, PPRO, DSP Abu Emmanuel, attributed the peaceful conduct of the festivity in the state to the strategy put in place by security agencies and other stakeholders as well as the Grace of God.

He appealed to the general public to report any suspicious movement to security agencies close to them so as to nip in the bud any threat to lives and properties in their area.

As at the time of filling this report, no violence was reported in any part of the state and people were seen going about their normal activities.

In Kano, which has also witnessed terrorists attacks, the Christian community celebrated the day under tight security.

All churches however recorded low turnout, though heavy security presence was visible in the Sabon Gari area, which is predominantly inhabited by Christians and non-natives.

Our correspondent reports that heavily armed security men were strategically deployed in all parts of Sabon Gari, which plays host to virtually all the churches in the state. Security operatives were also stationed at popular recreation centres in the area.

Our correspondent observed that due to the recent suicide bomb attacks, church leaders opted for a low key Christmas activities.

Churches also rescheduled the usual late night Christmas Eve activities to hold in the early hours of the evening.

The First Baptist Church for instance, held its Christmas carol from 4pm to 7pm. Other churches adopted similar a strategy, as worshippers converged and quickly dispersed before nightfall out of fear of the unknown and as part of security measures.

Meanwhile, operators of recreational parks within the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, yesterday complained of low patronage

In separate interviews with News Agency of Nigeria, NAN, in Abuja, the park operators attributed poor patronage to the current security challenge facing the country.

A visit to some of the parks revealed that there was lull in activities at the facilities in spite of the festive season. Head, Programmes and Events, FCTA Parks and Recreation Department, Mr. Abdulatif Olaosebikan, said that the parks had provided numerous offerings for Nigerians during festive occasions. Olaosebikan said that the security situation in the country might have contributed to the low turnout of people at the parks.

He, however, advised Nigerians to be security conscious and support the Federal Government in the fight against insurgency for peace to reign supreme in the country. A fun seeker in the park, Mrs. Atinuke Ademola, expressed shock over recent security developments in parts of the country.

Ademola, who was out to celebrate with her family, however, attributed the low turnout to paucity of funds to celebrate the Christmas.

Reports by: Omeiza Ajayi James Abraham Inusa Ndahi and Abdulgafar Oladimeji

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