Operatives of the dreaded Islamic militant sect, Boko Haram are said to have started combing fertiliser markets in search of materials to be used for bombs following the decision of security agencies to tighten rules on use of dynamites and explosives.
Some operatives were said to have broken into the stores of construction companies and quarries last year where they were said to have removed type C4 explosives.
The explosives, regarded as very deadly, were said to have been deployed in the recent bomb blasts effected by loyalists of the group.
RESIDENTS of Gamboru Junction of Customs Area of the Maiduguri Metropolitan Council (MMC) were on Wednesday thrown into confusion, following an early morning bomb blast detonated by gunmen suspected to be members of the Jamaatul Ahlis Sunnah lid Daawa wal Jihad, popularly known as Boko Haram which destroyed kiosks and some cars.
Confirming the incident, the spokesman of the Joint Task Force (JTF), Lieutenant-Colonel Hassan Mohammed, in a press release made available to Nigerian Tribune in Maiduguri, said at about 7.30 a.m. on Wednesday, gunmen suspected to be members of the Boko Haram sect detonated an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) in a Kioas around Customs area, damaging some cars but did not claim any life.
But sources around the Customs area told Nigerian Tribune that they saw about four corpses, as a result of the explosion, claiming that they were uniform men.
“We saw the soldiers carrying some corpses shortly after the explosion at Customs bridge and those who were there before the place was cordoned off this morning told us that those corpses were soldiers who were killed in the attack this morning,” Ahmed Idrissa told Nigerian Tribune.
Also, another source at the University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital (UMTH), who did not want his name in print told Nigerian Tribune that a wounded soldier was taken to the hospital on Wednesday morning.
“I saw a wounded soldier brought to the hospital this morning, as I was going home from night shift. I wouldn’t know if it was a victim of the attack this morning but a soldier was brought in at about 8.00 a.m,” he explained
Also, the statement from the JTF said “the JTF wishes to remind members of the general public of the danger of allowing their premises to be used by members of the sect as experienced this morning.”
The JTF also said in recent times, some group of hoodlums claiming to be members of the Boko Haram sect had engaged in the destruction of public properties, as two schools were burnt in the metropolis just within few days.
The task force also advised members of the general public to report any threat to public property to security operatives nearest to them, as security business is a collective responsibility, adding that for the attainment of lasting peace in the state and the country at large, people have to cooperate with the JTF and other security operatives in the country.
The statement advised school authorities in the state to provide early information to security agencies for prompt action, as severe action will be taken against any hoodlum caught in the act.
It will be recalled that in the last few days, Budum, Abbaganaram, Kulogumna and Gomari Costin primary schools were burnt, with members of the Boko Haram sect, in a telephone conference with newsmen in Maiduguri on Sunday claiming responsibility.
Meanwhile, commercial and social activities were paralysed for some hours at Suleja Local Government Area of Niger State on Wednesday, as traders at the IBB Ultra-modern market within the township and its environs were thrown into confusion, when an IED, which was said to have been concealed in a polythene bag, was discovered in the market.
This was coming about 11 days after members of the Boko Haram sect detonated a bomb which injured about five people at Morocco area of the town, near the premises of the Christ Embassy Church and for which about five suspected bombers were arrested by the security operatives.
The Nigerian Tribune further gathered that the panic-stricken traders at the popular market became unusually suspicious when they allegedly discovered the said abandoned bag.
An insider source at the market said a trader’s attention was drawn to the ‘curious’ bag that was abandoned by an unknown person, prompting other traders to immediately alert the military task force enforcing the state of emergency imposed on the Suleja Local Government Area by the Federal Government.
The source, who craved anonymity, in an interview with the Nigerian Tribune, said the alleged discovery of the object caused pandemonium in the area, as traders and residents fled in different directions until security agents raced to the scene and calmed the frayed nerves.
Further checks revealed that the development was coming less than three days after suspected suicide bombers were said to have been arrested on the Angwan Dwaki with explosives, which were allegedly concealed inside loaves of bread on the Suleja-Minna highways.
Mr Hyacinth Apah, in an interview, confirmed the bomb scare in the town, but said the situation was brought under control following the prompt intervention of security agents.
He, however, lamented the deteriorating security situation in the state, adding that the imposition of a state of emergency had not been able to solve the security challenge confronting the local government area.
Meanwhile, security has also been beefed up within Minna metropolis, following a letter purportedly written by the Boko Haram sect to the authorities of the state police command to attack some selected target, including the Government House, Minna.
The said threat letter, which was said to have listed the state police headquarters, Government House, the Niger State command of the Nigerian Prisons Service facilities, among other targets, had led to tight security being mounted around strategic roads leading to some public buildings in the state capital, while commercial motorcycle operators’ operation were restricted to between 7.00 p.m and 7.00 a.m.
A security source disclosed that security agencies were not taking the threat lightly, because of past experiences.
However, when contacted by the Nigerian Tribune, the image maker of the state police command, Mr Richard Oguche, attributed the security beef-up to what he described as routine security review, to curtail any threat to the peace of the state.
Meanwhile, revelations emerged on Wednesday that foreign experts invited by various aviation agencies to come and carry out safety oversight function in the industry have refused to come, basing their position on insecurity threats around the country.
According to information gathered by the Nigerian Tribune, the affected experts, mostly from South Africa and Germany, turned down the invitation through an e-mail.
Besides the safety oversight function, some of them were also expected to conduct an on-the-job training for some workers of the various agencies.
In the light of the development, security operatives had commenced random checks on workers of some organisations within the aviation industry.
The decision, according to information, followed the speculations that some people within the sector had links with Boko Haram.
Nigerian Tribune, on Wednesday, gathered that some security agents were in the sector to quizz those suspected to have links, but later released them due to lack of evidence.
Reacting to this, the national secretary of the Nigerian Aviation Professional Association (NAPA), Mr Abdulrazak Saidu, said he could not blame the experts who had refused to come to Nigeria because the situation had to do with life.
Meanwhile, the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), on Wednesday, announced that it has stopped the posting of youth corps members to Borno, Yobe, Kano and Niger states.
It also said the corps members currently serving in the four states were to be redeployed to Nasarawa, Gombe and Kwara states.