More than 3,000 policemen and 100 State Security Service (SSS) operatives have been deployed in Borno State to protect President Goodluck Jonathan, who is visiting the state and neighbouring Yobe between today and tomorrow.
The two states are the epicentre of Boko Haram’s activities. Thousands have been killed in the insurgency launched by the sect, which is pushing for sharia, the strict Islamic code, among others.
The security cover for the President’s first visit since the insurgency began, will be coordinated by the Chief of Defence Staff, Vice-Admiral Ibrahim Ola Sa’ad and Inspector-General of Police Mohammed Abubakar.
Following security advice on restriction of movement, the Borno State government has declared Friday a public holiday.
It was gathered that more than 100 SSS operatives from Gombe, Bauchi and other nearby states were deployed for the President’s visit.
The President will be accompanied by nine ministers. They are those in charge of Works, Education, Mines and Steel, Water Resources, Agriculture, Power, Environment, Housing and Urban Development. The Director-General of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Dr. Sani Sidi, is also on the entourage.
“To ensure water-tight protection for the President, the Chief of Defence Staff, the Inspector-General of Police, and other security chiefs are expected to co-ordinate this.
“The President’s advance team is already in Maiduguri as part of the preparations for the visit”, a source said.
Another source in Borno State said: “We are expecting the President to pass the night in Maiduguri on Thursday after his visit to Yobe. The President will meet with stakeholders at a Town Hall Meeting on Friday in Maiduguri .
“As part of the visit to Borno, there will be tight screening of vehicles and movement will be restricted. As a matter of fact, the number of reporters covering the trip will be restricted.”
Since these security measures are likely to cause inconvenience for the people of Borno State, Governor Kashim Shettima declared Friday a work-free day.
“This holiday will enable most residents of Maiduguri to stay at home and watch the state visit live on television.
“I can tell you that it is the tight security arrangement that has accounted for the public holiday,” he said.
Secretary to Yobe State Government Babagoni Machina said all was set for the visit.
Machina said: “We hope the visit will afford the President the opportunity to appreciate the development that has taken place in the state in the past few years.
“As you can see, all arrangements have been completed and we are ready to receive President Jonathan. We are also happy to have the president visiting our state and we pray that Allah will bring him safely and take him back safely as well.”
Commissioner of Police Sanusi Rufai said his men were leaving no stone unturned to ensure a hitch-free visit by the commander-in-chief.
He said more reinforcement of men had been brought to the state, adding that “all our men and officers have the operation order and plan which we have since put in place.”
He urged hoodlums not to attempt any breach of the peace during the visit.
Jonathan is expected to inaugurate some projects. Some of the projects include the 300 housing units along Gujba bye-pass, built by the state government, the dual carriage road and the ultra-modern library at the Yobe State University.
Commissioner for Housing Mohammed Ago Dala, said all the houses were built to standard awaiting inauguration.
He described the housing as second to none, adding that “people get houses in Yobe almost free because it is only in Yobe State that houses are subsidised by 65 per cent and in the event of death, all unpaid balances are waived by the government”.
Damaturu, the state capital, is wearing a new look. The Ministry of Environment is battling to keep the town clean.
Posters of President Jonathan and Governor Ibrahim Gaidam have taken over the major streets and electric poles.
The Ministry of Works, through direct labour, has filed the potholes on Damaturu roads.