DSS alert: Military, police deploy teams in prayer grounds

In a move to ensure hitch-free Sallah celebrations nationwide, the security forces have deployed operatives in Eid prayer grounds, recreation centres, and fun spots across the country.

 Additionally, the military has placed troops at operation theatres on red alert just as the acting Inspector-General of Police, Kayode Egbetokun, has dispatched thousands of police personnel at strategic points ahead of today’s celebrations.

The deployment came five days after the Department of State Services raised the alarm over an alleged plot by suspected terrorists to attack worship and religious centres during the Eid festivities.

The spokesperson for the Service, Peter Afunanya, had in a statement said the recovery of improvised explosive devices from terrorists in joint operations by the DSS, Nigerian Army and Police laid credence to the planned attack.

He, therefore, urged members of the public, including operators of malls among other public places, to be vigilant and not hesitate to report any suspicious movement to security agencies.

Speaking with The PUNCH on the measures being taken to curtail the reported threat in an interview on Tuesday, the Director of the Army Public Relations, Brigadier General Onyema Nwachukwu, assured that troops were ever ready to contain any menace to national security.

“Our troops at various theatres of operations are on the alert to curb any security threat,’’ he simply stated.

In a related manner, the IG said he had directed zonal assistant inspectors- general of police and commissioners of police to deploy personnel and equipment to ensure adequate security throughout the Eid-el-Kabir celebration period.

 In a statement on Tuesday by the Force spokesperson, Muyiwa Adejobi, Egbetokun also ordered them to carry out patrols on major highways, flash points, worship, and relaxation centres, among others.

The statement read, “The IGP particularly directed the Zonal AIGs and state command CPs to deploy human and other operational assets to carry out confidence building and crime prevention patrols on major highways, residential and industrial areas, vulnerable points, places of worship, other places of public resort and around all critical national infrastructure devoid of harassment and extortion.

“The Inspector-General of Police, while congratulating the Muslim faithful in the country on the occasion of the year 2023 Eid-el-Kabir celebration, restated that the force would harness all available assets including relevant groups, associations, sectors, and synergise with other security agencies to boost its service delivery and stabilise general security within the nation.”

He, however, warned the personnel deployed for various assignments during the celebration to be disciplined, professional and respect the fundamental rights of the citizens.

Tinubu arrives

Meanwhile, President Bola Tinubu will observe the Eid at the State House in Ikoyi, Lagos.

The President, who arrived in Lagos on Tuesday after his official and private trips to Paris and London respectively, will join other Muslim faithful to celebrate Eid-el-Kabir today.

A visit by our correspondent on Tuesday to the State House where the President will observe the Eid prayer revealed movements into the area were restricted.

The venue is located on Ribadu Road, behind Dodan Barracks, in the Ikoyi area of Lagos.

Our correspondent’s attempt to gain access to the Mosque on Tuesday was unsuccessful as one of the officials, who did not disclose his name, said only journalists cleared to cover the State House would be granted access.

In line with the IG’s directive, the Federal Capital Territory Police Command said it has deployed “tactical and intelligence machinery in prayer grounds and recreation centres across the territory.’’

The command also said it had reviewed the security architecture of the territory to ensure the safety of residents during the Eid-el-Kabir celebration.

In a statement on Tuesday, the command spokesperson, Josephine Adeh disclosed that the police would also conduct stop and search operations, aggressive vehicle and foot patrol as well as raids on dark spots across the FCT.

It read, “The FCT Police Command in preparation for a hitch-free Eid-El-Kabir celebration has re-appraised the security dispositions and deployed adequate human and material resources across the nooks and crannies of the Federal Capital Territory.

“The deployment which comprises all tactical and intelligence machinery of the Command anchored by interagency cooperation is distinguished by strengthened visibility policing at all praying grounds and places of social gatherings, stop and search duty, raids on black spots and uncompleted buildings, highway and border patrol, aggressive vehicle and foot patrol, surveillance and diversion points around praying grounds, which includes: Dantata Bridge and Shema filling station.”

She added that the Commissioner of Police charged all the officers to ensure no detail is overlooked as they discharge their duties in compliance with the Standard Operating Procedures.

Adeh called for vigilance and urged residents to make the best use of the police control room numbers in reporting suspicious activities.

On its part, the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps has deployed 40,000 personnel to provide security across the country ahead of the Eid celebrations.

This was contained in a statement by the NSCDC Director of Public Relations, Olusola Odumosu, on Tuesday in Abuja.

Odumosu disclosed that the NSCDC Commandant-General, Ahmed Audi ordered the personnel to ensure proper protection of critical national assets and infrastructure in joint operations with other security agencies.

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The CG equally directed them to man strategic locations, including places of worship, recreation centres, markets, shopping malls, motor parks, and other sensitive locations.

He charged the heads of formations to be more vigilant and highly sensitive to their environment ‘’to avoid unpleasant surprises from enemies of the country.’’

“You must be on top of your game, be very vigilant and highly sensitive to your environment because we are not going to take any chances,” he said.

He further urged the commands to be proactive, to achieve greater results.

“An intelligent-driven approach must be adopted to nip crimes in the bud; be proactive and make sure you engage intelligence-driven strategies.

“This will help to get credible information about the intended plans of criminal elements so that we can crush them before they strike,” Audi said.

The CG further cautioned the zonal commanders to effectively coordinate the formations under their jurisdictions.

He stated, “All Special Forces of the Corps must be fully engaged during the Sallah celebrations to guarantee the safety of lives of our people.

“I will hold zonal commanders responsible and state commandants accountable for any breach of peace in any state.’’

Borno security beef-up

As part of security strategies for the Eid celebrations, the Borno State Police Command has announced the restriction of vehicular movement between 7 am and 12 pm on Wednesday (today).

The restriction applied to motor vehicles, tricycles, and bicycles except for those on essential duties.

This was disclosed on Tuesday by the acting commissioner of police who is the Deputy Commissioner of Police in charge of operations, Borno State Police Command, Haruna Yahaya.

In a statement by the Police Public Relations Officer, ASP Sani Shatambaya, Yahaya asked the Muslim faithful to pray at Eid prayer grounds close to their homes, advising that they should go early for security screening.

The statement read, “This arrangement will cover all the praying grounds, malls, and recreation centres where large numbers of people are expected to gather. To this end, high visibility patrols/stop and search, and intelligence/information gathering will be intensified within this period and beyond.

“Furthermore, safer highway patrol teams have been deployed to major highways in the state to ensure the security of travellers and commuters.

“Sequel to the above, there will be restriction of vehicular movement between 7am and 12pm. The restriction, though regretted, will apply to motor vehicles, tricycles and bicycles except for those on essential duties.’’

Ahead of the festivities, operators of the fun spots in the FCT have beefed up security around their facilities, findings by this newspaper have shown.

Our correspondent who visited some parks and gardens on Tuesday observed reinforced security arrangements at many fun spots, including private security guards deployments.

A security officer at the Eden Parks and Garden, Utako, who refused to speak on the record, told our correspondent that he was aware of the DSS’ warning, adding that he had liaised with the police for the deployment of policemen.

He explained that he had made arrangements with the Utako Police Division for police officers to protect the park until the end of the celebrations.

“I spoke with the DPO at Utako Police Station. So he will send some officers who will be deployed in strategic parts of the garden,” he said, adding that private guards and vigilantes had also been procured to complement the police.

At Central Park in the Garki District of the FCT, security operatives conducted car checks and screened visitors with electronic metal detectors.

Police patrol

Also, some of the operatives were seen patrolling the grounds with sniffer dogs.

Similarly, there was heightened security at the National Mosque, located in the Central Business District, Abuja.

A couple of armed police officers were observed at the main entrance and another team at the second gate.

However, only a few private security guards were seen at the NASFAT Mosque located along Augustus Aikhomu Street in Utako.

The situation was the same at the Apostolic Faith Church, Utako District, where only an armed policeman and two private guardsmen were on duty.

In preparation for the expected surge of visitors, the Kano Zoological Garden and Wildlife Management Agency said it had taken adequate security measures to ensure the safety of visitors to the Zoo during the Eid celebrations.

The agency’s Public Relations Officer, Farouk Isa Musa told The PUNCH in a telephone interview that the management of the Zoological Garden had requested for the deployment of additional security personnel to protect the facility.

“The security committee in the zoo had held a meeting where it requested for the deployment of more personnel from the DSS, police, NSCDC as well as the Vigilante,’’ he noted.

He pointed out that the request for additional security personnel became necessary because of the recent alarm raised by the DSS.

According to him, the agency found it necessary to enhance security in the zoo because of the huge number of people, especially women, and children that usually visit the centre to see the wild animals kept in the facility.

“So, we cannot afford to take such a threat for granted, hence the decision of the management to request additional reinforcement from the various security agencies,” he said.

However, the state command of the NSCDC said it has deployed no fewer than 2,500 armed personnel to provide security during the festivities.

The Public Relations officer of the command, DSC Ibrahim Abdullahi told our correspondent that the personnel would be posted to strategic locations, including the Eid praying grounds, recreation facilities, and other fun spots within and outside the metropolis.

He called on residents to support the security agencies with reliable and credible information.

In Lagos State, Ahead of the Eid-el-Fitr celebration in the state on Wednesday, the  state Commissioner of Police, CP Idowu Owohunwa, has directed all Area Commanders, DPOs, Tactical Commanders and Intelligence Officers to” review their deployment of human and operational resources especially at identified strategic and vulnerable points across the state to forestall any breakdown of security; while deployed officers have been charged to remain professional, courteous but firm in the discharge of their duties.”

The CP, who felicitated with Muslims on the occasion, in a statement made available by the state PPRO, SP Benjamin Hundeyin assured residents that the emplaced security architecture will be closely monitored and reviewed as required in a bid to sustain the existing peace in the state.

He also equally enjoined everyone to be security conscious, vigilant and report any suspicious incident or happening to the nearest police station.