By Sadiq Umar, Abuja.
The Director-General of the National Orientation Agency (NOA) and Coordinator of the National Information Centre, Mr. Mike Omeri, has allayed fears that the Islamic State (ISIS) might be operating in Nigeria, saying the Boko Haram’s recent pledge to identify with them was a desperate tactics aimed to seek attention and possible assistance.
Just as he revealed that about eight persons were arrested on Wednesday following allegation that they sponsored two teenagers to carry out suicide bombing.
The suspects were picked up around Customs Area in Maiduguri, Borno state, by men of the civilian joint task force (JTF), when the two teenage suspected bombers confessed that they were given the bomb by one Hassan Mai Doya of Customs Area to plant at a location in Maiduguri metropolis.
“The latest attempt by Boko Haram to identify with the group was an act of desperation aimed at seeking attention and possible assistance from outside in the face of the crushing defeat it is suffering in the hands of the Nigerian armed forces and other regional collaborators,” Omeri said at a press conference in Abuja on Wednesday.
According to him, “The centre has noted the latest audio recording posted online by the insurgent group, Boko Haram where they pledged allegiance to the Islamic State (IS). We wish to state that there is no evidence that the IS operates in Nigeria.
“The fact of the matter is that Nigeria and its neighbours are pushing the insurgents away from their strongholds, capturing many of them and destroying several of their facilities.
“The government, therefore, wishes to assure Nigerians that this tempo will be sustained until every presence of Boko Haram insurgency is totally obliterated in Nigeria.
“The only nation that will exist in Nigeria is a united federal republic of Nigeria which demands the cooperation, commitment and patriotism of all its citizens.”
He urged for vigilance, noting that the displaced terrorists may mix with the unsuspecting populace to hit soft target as experienced in Maiduguri in recent times.
“We continue to urge Nigerians to exercise extra vigilance especially at this period when our security forces continue to fish out members of the group who might have been embedded in the society, and whose activities have given rise to the recent bombing incidents within Maiduguri and other locations in the northeast zone,” Omeri said.
“The centre, therefore, strongly reminds all Nigerians to exercise more scrutiny of persons and movements, especially within their areas of business and worship, particularly, motor park and market managers all over the country must step up the level of security within their business premises, while religious authorities need to put in place more effective security cordon around places of worship to ensure the safety of the adherents.”
He said the suspects arrested in connection with the aborted suicide bombing have been handed over to security agents for further interrogation.