Security agencies were yesterday placed on the alert, following the uncovering of a plot to attack Abuja by some terrorists, led by an Algerian, Drahmane Ould Ali (aka Mohammed Ould Sidat).
The Algerian coordinators were said to be acting in concert with one Zahid Aminon and unnamed four Nigerian accomplices.
The terrorists, allegedly on their way, were said to have hatched plans to strike between December 17 and 31.
They were allegedly en route Nigeria from Mali through Gao and Niger Republic.
Based on the intelligence report, the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) has directed all its officers to be vigilant in some key institutions and installations.
The NIS issued the red alert to its officers at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Ikeja, Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport, Abuja, Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport, Kano, Seme, Idi-Iroko and Illela borders.
Also, immigration state commands in Lagos, Onne, Borno, Taraba, Yobe, Ogun Oyo, Kwara, Kebbi, Sokoto, Zamfara, Benue, Cross River, Delta and Akwa Ibom, have been directed to be on standby at border posts.
The indication of an imminent plot to attack Abuja was contained in an internal memo of the Immigration Service titled: ”Terrorists plan attacks in Abuja”, which was sent to selected commands by the Comptroller of Immigration, Edirin Okoto (Land Border Patrol Commander).
The December 23, 2021 memo said: “The Office of the Acting Comptroller-General of Immigration (CGI) is in receipt of a Security Report (Urgent) from the Presidency (OSGF).The import is about a looming attack on Nigeria’s capital city, Abuja, between 17th and 31st December, 2021.
“The planned attack is purportedly being led by one Drahmane Ould Ali , aka Mohammed Ould Sidat, an Algerian national, to be assisted by one Zahid Aminon, a Nigerien national.
“The report indicates the duo are en route Nigeria from Mali through Gao and Niger Republic, riding a white Toyota Hilux van with Registration Number AG 157EKY. That these two had four Nigerian accomplices, who are already embedded in the country.
“It is further reported that Ali holds Algerian diplomatic passport with the name Najim Ould Ibrahim.
“Consequently, I am directed to request you to intensify alert levels, emplace necessary counter-measures at all our entry/ exit points (air, land, sea/marine) , including but not limited to, surveillance, rigorous search on persons and vehicles, transhumance, to effectuate the immediate arrest of these terrorists/ countervail this and any terrorist attacks in Abuja.”
Although the official memo got leaked, a top immigration officer described it as a “routine surveillance advisory.”
The officer said: “This memo was purely for internal consumption. It was not meant for the public. It was an intra-service communication arising from inter-service exchange. It was unfortunate it got leaked.
“We have taken proactive steps. There is no cause for alarm. The Immigration Service and all security agencies are on top of the situation.”
The Islamic State in West African Province (ISWAP) has launched multiple rocket attacks on Maiduguri, Borno state capital.
The insurgents launched the attacks yesterday ahead of President Muhammadu Buhari’s visit to the city to inaugurate projects by the state government .
The explosives landed in Ngomari, Bulumkutu, Ajilari and Ayafe communities within the metropolis.
The insurgents were said to have launched the attack from the outskirt of Auno, which is about 15 kilometres away from the city.
Residents within the area scampered for safety, amid sounds of explosion.
The casualty figure is yet to be ascertained, but many houses were destroyed.
The president arrived in Maiduguri around 11am as part of a one-day official visit to Borno.
He was received by Governor Babagana Zulum, his deputy, Usman Kadafur, members of National Assembly and Borno State House of Assembly, and top government officials.
Other dignitaries that were Gen. Faruk Yahaya, Chief of Army Staff, and Maj.-Gen. Christopher Musa, Theatre Commander of Operation Hadin Kai.
Brig.-Gen. Onyema Nwachukwu, Army spokesperson, was not available to comment on the attack.
There were doubts that Buhari would go ahead with trip, as three explosions rocked the city a few hours before the president’s arrival.
The Commander-In-Chief, who will now carry on with his schedule as planned, with the commissioning of an edifice donated by Mohammed Indimi to the University of Maiduguri.
Later, he commissioned some projects executed by the Borno State Government, including a 10km dual carriageway, a flyover, and a mega secondary school.
The President also received first-hand reports from the Nigerian troops fighting Boko Haram terrorists in the Northeast region.
The explosions, which some feared might have made the president cancel his Maiduguri trip, claimed the lives of at least four persons.
Eight other individuals were said to have sustained various degrees of injuries.
Three different locations experienced blasts. But, while casualties were reported in Ayaje and Bulumkutu, there were no concrete reports from Ajilari.