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Govt ready to tackle Boko Haram's threat against Christians, Muslims

Published by Guardian on Tue, 03 Jan 2012

Police arrest 40 NigeriensTHE Federal Government assured yesterday that it was up to the task of checkmating the Boko Haram sect that purportedly issued a fresh threat to Christians and Muslims to move to the South and the North respectively, an erroneous assumption that the country is divided into South and North along religious lines.The position of the Federal Government was contained in a text statement sent to media houses yesterday by the office of the National Security Adviser, Gen. Owoye Andrew Azazi, that 'this is the NSA's reaction to the Boko Haram fresh threat that it will kill Christians en mass after three days' ultimatum: I can assure you the security forces are up to it.'The Agence France Presse (AFP) reported yesterday that a person purporting to speak for the radical Islamic fundamentalist group, Jama'atu Ahlis Sunnah Lidda'awati Wal Jihad, also known as Boko Haram (translating to 'western civilisation is loathsome,') Abul Qaqa, issued the three-day ultimatum to all Christians in the North to leave because the group intends to confront troops sent to some states in the North where a state of emergency was recently declared by the Federal Government. According to the agency, the ultimatum was issued yesterday, January 2.Also reacting yesterday, the spokesman of the Nigeria Police Deputy Commissioner Olusola Amore, said that the faceless sect was out to use the press to spread fear among the populace.He asked, where is the 'boundary of the North or the South' Who is a true Northerner or Southerner the group wants to use the press to frighten''According to the Police spokesman, the more the press gave publicity to the amorphous group, the more the group would have achieved its aim of spreading fear.'What we have currently is a political Boko Haram out to achieve a set objective of balkanising the country. Let the press not give the sect a chance to achieve their devilish objective of spreading mass fear in the populace that could lead to a breakup of the country.'If the country were to break up as they wished, all of us would suffer. We (Nigeria) have the population, the market that is the envy of many and therefore, they would stop at nothing to destabilise the country,' Amore said.The identity of the spokesman for the Boko Haram, Qaqa, yesterday, could not be ascertained if he was different from the spokesman of the sect that on July 27 last year, signed off a video-typed statement threatening to kill a top military officer, saying he was Malam Aliyu Teshako. Another man the State Security Service (SSS) arrested and charged to court and was convicted last November has been disowned by the group as not belonging to them.AFP said yesterday's statement was relayed in Hausa via a telephone conference with journalists late on Sunday.The radical group known for suicide bombings in parts of the North including Abuja, also asked Muslims in the South to return 'home'.Qaqa in the three-day ultimatum said: 'We find it pertinent to state that soldiers will only kill innocent Muslims in the local government areas where the state of emergency was declared.'We would confront them squarely to protect our brothers,' it said, adding: 'We also wish to call on our fellow Muslims to come back to the North because we have evidence that they would be attacked.'We are also giving a three-day ultimatum to the southerners living in the northern part of Nigeria to move away.'President Goodluck Jonathan declared a state of emergency on Saturday in parts of four states hard hit by violence blamed on the sect.The declaration came in response to scores of attacks attributed to Boko Haram, particularly the bombings on Christmas day that killed 49 people, most of them in a gruesome blast at St. Theresa's Catholic Church, Madalla, near Abuja as services were ending.Qaqa also criticised Jonathan over his visit to church on Saturday.Besides, the Police have arrested no fewer than 40 Nigeriens in Lagos over threats of insecurity in the country.The Nigeriens were arrested at the Berger area of Lagos on their way to the state sequel to an intelligence report.Lagos State police spokesman, Mr. Samuel Jinadu, a Deputy Superintendent, who confirmed the arrest of the Nigeriens, said they did not have the required documents to be in Nigeria.'We arrested them in order to checkmate crime and ensure security. They are illegal aliens and we would soon hand them over to Nigeria Immigration Service,' he said.Already, security has been beefed up at all police formations, sensitive areas and major churches in Lagos State following intelligent information that members of the Boko Haram sect were planning an attack on major cities in the country.At Oduduwa Street GRA, Ikeja, which serves as the base for the Police Public Relations Office (PPRO), Police Mobile Force (PMF), 20 and 22, the Anti-Terrorist Squad and the Special Protection Unit (SPU), the entrance road was barricaded by well-armed policemen.The policemen, who were drawn from all the formations mentioned above, stopped and searched every vehicle that was entering the premises.Also, reactions have continued to trail President Jonathan's Saturday declaration of an emergency rule in 15 local councils in the four states of the country with Plateau State having four of the councils, namely Jos North, Jos South, Barkin Ladi and Riyom. While some welcomed the idea, others denounced it.The state government had on Sunday taken a measured stance on the emergency, stating that it acknowledged the declaration.A statement by the State Commissioner for Information and Communications, Mr. Yiljap Abraham, said: 'The Plateau State government acknowledges the broadcast by the President on the state of the nation's security wherein he declared a state of emergency in some local government areas in the northern part of the country including four councils in Plateau State.'The statement further assured the President of Plateau State government's cooperation in that regard.While commending the President for imposing a partial state of emergency on some local councils, the Chairman of the Christian Foundation for Social Justice and Equity, Mr. Joseph Sangosanya, said that he would have preferred a total state of emergency in the affected states to nip in the bud further violence.
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