Soldiers intercept 486 Boko Haram suspects in Aba
The 144 Battalion of the Nigerian Army in Asa, near Aba, Abia State at the weekend arrested 486 persons, including eight girls, suspected to be members of Boko Haram.
They were intercepted while travelling from the North to Port Harcourt in Rivers State.
This is even as the South-East governors said yesterday that with the security arrangements in place, the sect will not infiltrate the zone.
Speaking with reporters at the military base in Asa, Ukwa East council area yesterday, the Abia State Commissioner for Information and Stragety, Eze Chikamnayo, said the suspects have been detained by soldiers.
Chikamnayo was accompanied during the briefing by the Commander, Lt- Col. Rasheed Omolori, who confirmed the arrest while parading the suspects. He said a report had been sent to Army Headquarters in Abuja.
Omolori, however, declined further comments, but said the report had been forwarded to the Army Headquarters, noting that any further information should be obtained from his bosses. The commissioner said that the suspects were travelling in a motorcade of 35 Toyota Hiace buses when they were intercepted; regretting that two buses escaped seizure.
He said the motorcade was intercepted around 2am between Arungwa Junction on the Enugu-Port Harcourt Expressway and Imo Gate, the Abia/Rivers boundary. According to him, they were stopped and moved to Asa. Chikamnayo said investigations revealed that the suspects, aged 16 years and above, were travelling from Kano, Taraba and Jigawa states.
He, however, said that further investigation would help to unravel the true mission of the suspectes who, he said, claimed to be travelling to Port Harcourt to look for work and wondered how such a large number of youths could be going to that city.
The commissioner noted that their movement was suspicious, wondering how the long motorcade could have travelled the long distance from the North to the East before being apprehended.
He commended the Army ad other security agencies in the state for being alive to their responsibility.
Meanwhile, following the discovery of two bombs in Winners Chapel Church in Owerri on Sunday, South-East governors assured the people that Boko Haram will not attack the zone, considering the security arrangements in place.
Anambra State Governor Willie Obiano told State House Correspondents from the zone that they met with President Goodluck Jonathan in the Presidential Villa, Abuja yesterday. Their counterparts from Imo, Rochas Okorocha, was not there.
Others in attendance were Governors Theodore Orji, Abia; Sullivan Chime, Enugu and Chief Martin Elechi, Ebonyi State.
According to Obiano, the governors have already placed security forces on the alert, adding that there is no way the Islamist sect would infiltrate the zone.
While refusing to give details of the plans, Gov Obiano assured that his colleagues have made adequate arrangements to ensure that the insurgents do not make inroad into the South-East.
He said: “No, they cannot get there. I can assure you of that. We will not allow that to happen. I cannot tell you details about the bombs found or not found. All I can assure you is that we are very alert in the South-East and we are watching what is going on. I can assure you that Boko Haram cannot come to the Southeast”.
Obiano called for support of all Nigerians as President Jonathan tackles the security challenges, regretting that reckless utterances from politicians were boosting the confidence of the insurgents and putting tremendous pressure on Jonathan.
He said: “The President is a human being and he is under a lot of pressure. Some other people are making the work a lot more difficult for him. Instead of supporting him to steer us out of these stormy waters, they are adding kerosene to fire. So, we are here to tell him that we are supporting him and that he should count on us”.
On the purpose of the visit to the State House, Obiano said the governors were paying a solidarity visit to the President and to assure him of their support. “The South-East governors came in this morning to assure him that we are with him all the way and that he can count on us”.
On the erosion challenges facing the zone, the Anambra governor announced that the area would soon put in place legal framework to address man-made erosion, adding that he and his colleagues were tackling the challenge head-on.
“The World Bank and the state governments are working on a lot of erosion sites already. We have expanded the four sites we are working on currently to 12 so, we are adding eight more erosion sites. I believe that this intervention which is 50/50 per cent contribution, would go a long way in helping to tackle the erosion sites.
“We are also tackling erosion from the legal point of view. Bush burning will no longer be allowed, so also is cutting roads to lay pipes to houses. These are some of the factors that lead to erosion.
“We want people to do the necessary things that they should do, we want people to stop termination of drainages abruptly. We are putting a law in place to ensure that anybody that violates the law, will face the consequences”, he said.