Security has been beefed up in border communities across the Southwest states, following an alleged plot by suspected terrorists to attack military formations in the areas, it was learned yesterday.
Government sources said there is increased surveillance in Yewa, Ogun State border towns and Badagry-Seme borders in Lagos and Oke-Ogun, Oyo State to ward off any attack by bandits and terrorists.
There was panic at the weekend after the Nigeria Customs Service and other security agencies were put on red alert to avert attacks.
In Ogun State, a competent source said Governor Dapo Abiodun has concluded plans to relaunch the “Operation Mesa” this week, following the purchase of more security equipment, patrol vans and other facilities for the outfit.
Also, the security outfit, Amotekun, has been put on alert for intelligence gathering and combat.
Special Adviser to Ogun State Governor on Security, Olusola Subair said: “I am not in the country now. I know that there is no cause for alarm. Our men are always on the alert. They are ready for any emergency. Our security outfits are supplied with logistics and other facilities. There is no room for panic.”
The Alake of Egbaland, Oba Adedotun Gbadebo, urged the government and the security agencies to always be on top of every security threat.
Oba Gbadebo, who spoke to The Nation on the threat, said his people will provide information to the authorities to ensure the safety of Egbaland.
The Alake spoke through one of his chiefs, Baaroyin of Egbaland, Chief Lai Labode.
He said: “The military or paramilitary always make sure that their first port of call, apart from the number one citizen of Ogun State, is the palace of Alake and paramount ruler of Egbaland.
“By the size of the population, Ogun Central, which is the home of the Egbas, is by size very large and by population is more than half the population of the state.
“That means the issue of security in this area is very vital and every chief executive of paramilitary and the military itself always enjoin that the Alake, his chiefs and people of Egbaland to cooperate and the last in the series was the new Comptroller General of Area 1 of the Nigeria Customs Service, Ogun State Command that came last week.
“And it is incumbent on the Alake and other traditional rulers (in Egbaland) to ensure that information goes to the right quarters as far as security is concerned and our paramount ruler is an ex-serviceman and senior military officer before he retired.
“Alake has always assured these security officers that they can count on him as far as the security architecture of Egba area as well as other parts of the state are concerned. And on the issue of the threat, whether it is real or a ruse, one can count on what the Alake has been saying since he came to the throne for the past 16 years, which is that we as a nation should always be on top of the situation and he and his people have always been cooperating with the security agencies to (secure his domain).”
In Lagos, although the Commissioner of Police, Hakeem Odumosu, did not confirm the invasion of terrorists, he acknowledged the presence of an intelligence report and assured that security agencies were not treating the report with levity.
He also disclosed that security agencies were working with credible informants to ensure that if the intelligence report is true, fleeing terrorists would be apprehended and brought to justice.
A high-ranking Lagos State Government official assured that everything is under control in the Centre of Excellence.
The official urged residents to go about their businesses without fear, saying the security operatives in the state are alive to their responsibilities of protecting lives and properties.
The official said: “It is not a time for anybody to panic. Lagos State has standing security machinery that is alive 24/7, up to the task and well-equipped.
“We have a good relationship with the Federal Government and all federal security agencies – the Police, the military and the Department of State Service (DSS).
“Our Neighbourhood Watchmen are at alert to raise the flag whenever they notice they notice any strange movement.
“The President was in Lagos on June 10 to join Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu in presenting some equipment to security outfits. Presented were 150 double-cabin vans; 150 saloon cars; 1000 ballistic vests; 1000 ballistic helmets; 1000 walkie-talkies; 100 moto-bikes, two Armored Personnel Cars (APCs) and four high-capacity troop carriers). Twenty more salon cars were recently added.
“So, Lagosians have nothing to worry over. There is nothing warranting security concern that will put anyone in the panic mode”.
In Oyo State, a senior government official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said security agencies were working in tandem with Customs authorities to police border towns and forestall an invasion of terrorists at the borders.
“All security agencies are working with the Customs to check the nefarious activities of infiltrators,” he said.
In Ondo State, a top government official said: “We are conscious of the security alert. We are relying more on Amotekun, the Civil Defence and police to protect lives and property, and prevent the invasion of suspected bandits and terrorists.”
In a Northcentral state that is contiguous to Southwest, a source said: “People are concerned that some non-state actors may be hibernating in some ungoverned spaces and we trust that military personnel are on top of the situation. There is no cause for panic”.
At the weekend, there was anxiety as the Department of State Services (DSS) reportedly raised the alarm of a plan by terrorists to simultaneously attack military bases in border communities across the country.
The DSS, according to a leaked memo, said it had already put the Nigeria Customs Service and other security agencies on the red alert to avert the attacks.
In the leaked letter of November 25, 2021, the secret service specifically mentioned Ogun border communities as some of the targets of the terrorists.
The memo, according to a Channels report, was addressed to the Customs Comptroller, Ogun Area Command, Abeokuta. It advised that counter-measures be put in place to frustrate the plot.
According to the Ogun State DSS Director: “Available intelligence indicates plans by insurgents and criminal elements to carry out simultaneous attacks on military posts and bases in various border communities across the nation anytime from now.
“In view of the foregoing and the likelihood, such attacks not limited to the military personnel only, all law enforcement and security agencies with operational bases at border communities are advised to take note of the above threat and emplace countermeasures with emphasis on personal security of operatives to frustrate the planned attack.”
Also, last week, attempts by suspected terrorists to bomb an army barrack in Lagos was foiled by operatives of the Nigerian Army.
No fewer than 13 suspects, including four of those who attempted to bomb the Ikeja Cantonment, were apprehended.
Among them was a 24-year-old suspect, said to have been caught with eight 600 mm mortar bomb explosives by operatives of the 9 Brigade.
He and his accomplices were said to have attracted the attention of the operatives as a result of the bag they carried.
Soldiers on duty were said to have demanded to see the contents of their bags as the men acted more suspiciously.
Sources said following the search, the uncharged mortar bomb and detonators were discovered. Some of the suspects took to their heels.
It was gathered that some of the suspects were also trailed to Itapuju area of Apapa while on a mission to wreak havoc, arrested on Friday and immediately transferred to Maiduguri, the Borno State capital, for profiling and further action.
It was, however, unclear if the prime minister was among those moved to Borno or whether he was being detained in Lagos to answer for alleged attempted terrorism charges committed in the state.
By Emmanuel Oladesu, Precious Igbonwelundu, and Ernest Nwokolo.