BOKO HARAM/MEND: Presidency summons security chiefs, govs to emergency meeting •AS COAS aborts trip to Ibadan •Why we want to bomb Abuja tomorrow •Egbesu threatens MEND


THE Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant-General Azubuike Ihejirika, had to abort his planned trip to Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, on Thursday, where he was to declare open the eighth bi-ennial training conference of the Nigerian Army Finance Corps, following threats by the Boko Haram sect and the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) to bomb and cause mayhem in Abuja tomorrow.

The army chief, who was already at the airport with his aides waiting for the aircraft, was suddenly summoned to the Aso Rock Villa alongside other service chiefs by President Goodluck Jonathan to deliberate on how to ward off the threats.

Also, Nigerian Tribune gathered that governors of states targeted by the terrorists were invited by the president to Abuja for an emergency meeting on security measures to be put in place.

However, in a last-minute arrangement, the Chief of Administration, Major-General Bala Usara, was sent to Ibadan, on Thursday, to represent Lieutenant-General Ihejirika.

Following the threats, Nigerian Tribune sources gathered that security agencies have increased the alert status to ‘red’, to ensure the planned bombings by both Boko Haram and MEND do not see the light of day.

Consequently, it was gathered that The Nigerian Air Force and the Nigeria Police would deploy helicopters to commence the air patrol of the city of Abuja while night patrols by the army, navy, air force and mobile police personnel in the FCT is now round the clock.

Already, all security agencies, including para-military ones have been directed to commence the evacuation of all broken down or abandoned vehicles from all roads in Abuja, while more cordons are being erected on possibly vulnerable spots that might be utilised by hoodlums.

In his speech read by Major-General Usara, Lieutenant-General Ihejirika noted that the increasing wave of socio-political and ethno-religious crises threatening the nation’s security lately had assumed a high dangerous dimension, which had resulted in the nation witnessing a spate of bombings and attacks on strategic areas of importance to the country, saying, “this has left serious demands on the Nigerian Army resources.”

He said that funding was fundamental to containing these security challenges and that success in this pursuit called for prudent and efficient management and application of available funds,” adding, “I envisioned an army that would effectively manage its available resources to be able to meet contemporary challenges.”

Minister of State for Finance, Dr Yerima Ngama, in his keynote address, regretted that the increasing spate of bombings and other criminal activities posed a great challenge to national security and that the Nigerian Army, as a major instrument of national security and defence policy, must be at its best in carrying out its constitutional roles in support of government.

According to him, this calls for judicious utilisation of available resources by the Nigerian Army to be able to meet obligations to government and the people of Nigeria, adding that the army finance corps was at the centre of this activity, being the sole custodian and manager of Nigerian Army funds.

“The corps must, therefore, proffer useful financial strategies, techniques and methods of optimising the use of funds allocated to the Nigerian Army,” he said.

Dr Ngama described the theme of the conference, “Effective utilisation of funds for meeting contemporary challenges by the Nigerian Army,” as apt, adding that his ministry would partner with the army to ensure it was getting these activities right.

In his address, the Chief of Army Budget and Accounts, Major-General Abdullahi Iyanda Muraina, disclosed that as a leading institution of government, the army should be seen to be in the forefront of government policy implementation.

Meanwhile, the Movement For the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) has given reasons for its plan to bomb Abuja tomorrow, as the country marks its 51st Independence anniversary.

In a statement sent to the Nigerian Tribune through e-mail on Monday, MEND, through its European representative, Mr Peter Timi, said it wanted to let the whole world know about the alleged injustices currently going on in the country.

Mr Timi, who claimed that he was mandated by the leader of the group, Mr Jomo Gbomo, to issue those reasons, said one of the reasons for planning the attack was to express the displeasure of the group at the continued prosecution of the leaders of MEND, Henry and Charles Okah.

According to the statement, “Our reasons for the planned attack include the continuous prosecution of our leaders, Henry and Charles Okah in South Africa and Nigeria respectively. It also includes the killings of our youth corps members in the northern part of the country.”

Another reason for the planned attack, according to Timi, was “to make a point to the Boko Haram that they and their sponsors, who are trying to intimidate President Goodluck Jonathan, simply because he is from the Niger Delta, will eventually lead to the destruction and downfall of northern political structures, including their elite.”

The group also warned some countries it accused of sponsoring Boko Haram in Nigeria to evacuate their nationals in the country before Saturday, as it claimed it could no longer guarantee their security.

“The countries of Islamic Republic of Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Niger, Libya and Mauritania should, as a matter of urgency, evacuate their nationals and their interests in Nigeria on or before Saturday, while the nations and their nationals are strongly advised to leave Nigeria due to their alleged sponsor of Boko Haram, failure to take this warning is at their peril,” the group stated.

It, therefore, reiterated the determination to attack the Federal Capital Territory, as it said “we will carry out this attack to the letter, enough is enough.”

In another development, the Egbesu Mightier Fraternity has threatened to fight MEND to a standstill over its threat that it will plant and detonate explosives within the vicinity of the Eagle Square tomorrow.

The Egbesu group, in an online statement, through its spokesperson, General Okin Sele, condemned MEND’s threat and described it as uncalled for.

General Sele, however, maintained that “if any bomb blast on the October 1 Independence Day and MEND claim responsibility, we shall not hesitate to meet you one on one. We know your true identities in the struggle. We know our homes. None of us comes from different countries.”

The group warned the MEND to desist from its plan, saying that President Jonathan was not the cause of the marginalisation of Niger Delta.

“We were oppressed without consideration for the wealth in our region by the previous administrations in the country. Think twice before you bomb Abuja again,” it said.

The fraternity, which also warned Boko Haram to stop further bombing to distract the president, said if the Islamic sect refused to yield after the expiration of its 14-day ultimatum, “we’ll commence our action, codename: Operation Meet Boko Haram in their land.”

Also, Dr Frederick Fasheun, founder of the Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC), on Thursday, appealed to MEND to desist from carrying out its bomb threat tomorrow.

Fasheun told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos that the reason for the appeal was to avoid the loss of innocent lives.

“I know that the leadership of MEND cannot get up to threaten to bomb without having its reasons, but care must be taken to ensure that nobody dies,” Fasheun said.
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