At least three persons are said to have been arrested in connection with planned terrorist attacks in Abuja, after a resident of Trademore Estate on the Lugbe axis of Abuja was arrested last Monday.
The revelation comes amid reports that one of Abuja’s big shopping complexes, the Jabi Lake Mall, has been shut down over security concerns. The mall management, in a statement said the closure was in the “overall interest of the safety of all staff and customers of the mall.”
According to a source, the arrest made at the Phase 3 Trademore Estate followed the arrest of an individual allegedly seen lurking around the United States Embassy in Abuja. He was said to be an escapee from the prison break at Kuje Correctional Centre months ago.
The arrest and interrogation of the individual, it was leant, led to the joint sting operation by the Department of State Services (DSS) and US operatives at the Trademore Estate.
Already, a Chairman of the Trademore Estate Association has confirmed the joint exercise, even though official sources have maintained silence.
Adewale Adenaike, chairman of Phase 3, Trademore Estate, in a publication by an online newspaper, said the security operatives closed down the estate gates on Monday to stop vehicular movements.
He was informed by the officers that they were after a member of the community who is suspected of “terrorist activities”.
“It happened on Monday. We were in our houses when our estate was locked up. Nobody going out, nobody coming into the estate. As the chairman, I came out to find out what was happening in the estate. I discovered it was a sting operation by our DSS and some American soldiers, and it was alleged, I repeat, it was alleged, right, that they were looking for somebody who had suspected terrorist activity, it was alleged as such,” Adenaike said.
“As I was approaching the gate to my own street, the heavily masked DSS guys stopped me from going, and I told them I can’t stop because people are calling me for information so they will need to tell me why you are here, and that was how I got to know the alleged terrorist activity.
“And because they were DSS and with the American army I had nothing to say, I just said okay, they had to do what they had to do, and when they finished what they were doing, all we saw was to see them drive away with a couple of people from the estate.
“As I speak to you I do not have details of what happened, I don’t know what happened. There has been a lot of insinuation and rumour. I am not a rumour monger, therefore, I refuse to escalate the rumour I have been hearing,” was quoted in The Cable online newspaper as saying
Adenaike said the officers arrested the suspect in a boys’ quarters section of a duplex occupied by a family in the estate.
Everyday.ng learnt that the joint sting operation was done deliberately because local security agents “did not want to believe them.”
A source, who pleaded anonymity because he was not authorised to speak on the security-related matter, added”Whatever makes the US Embassy to close down for one week and order (a category) of staff to go home for one month is a serious matter.
“They are leaving in droves. Do you know how much it will take and fly them back (to the US), and says if nothing happens, we will fly you back? Do you know how much it will cost them to fly them back to Nigeria? Do you know how much revenue they will lose shutting the Embassy in Abuja?”
Amid the unfolding drama, Nigeria’s Information Minister, Alhaji Lai Mohammed was berating media outlets and social media personalities for spreading the security alerts without verifying their authenticity.
Mr Mohammed was a panelist at the UNESCO session with the topic, “National Media and Information Literacy Frameworks, Sustaining Beyond Disinformation’’ moderated by Dr Tawfik Jelassi, Assistant Director-General Communication and Information Sector, UNESCO.
In his presentation, Mr Mohammed said the warning issued by the embassies are not the true position of the security situation in the country, and could create unnecessary tension and panic.
He also condemned the media outfits which fed on the unverified security alert to attract traffic to their site without considering the effects on the country.
He reiterated his position that the country “is safer today than at any time in recent times’’, with the efforts and sacrifices of the military and other security agencies.
The minister said the security forces had been proactive and as far as insecurity is concerned, the worst is over for Nigeria.
He, therefore, urged Nigerians not to panic but to be alert at all times.
“We do not discountenance the fact that terrorists, bandits and their kind would always want to do whatever it takes to disrupt our nation’s peace, security and stability.
“Well, I can assure all that our military and other security agencies have continued to do everything possible to secure and protect Nigerians and foreigners living in Nigeria.
“Terrorists have been hard hit and put on the run. Bandits have been decimated and scattered,’’ he said.
Without giving details, the Jabi Lake Mall management explained in a statement why it shut down the mall, housing a wide range of stores, including outlets of Shoprite and Game, on Thursday. It said: “Jabi Lake Mall will be closed today, Thursday, 27 October 2022. This decision has been taken in the overall interest of the safety of all staff and customers of the mall.
“Centre Management is committed to minimising any disruptions; however, the safety of our staff and shoppers remains our highest priority.
“Management is constantly reviewing the security situation in consultation with relevant security authorities and will inform you when the mall will be re-opened.
“We apologise for any inconvenience caused and hope to provide you with a quality shopping experience soon”.
Everyday.ng reports that following the panic generated by the United States Embassy and the British High Commission over a possible attack by terrorists in Abuja at the weekend, the Department of State Services (DSS) had called for calm as it says it is taking necessary measures to ensure the safety of everyone in the country.
Recall that the BHC categorically warned citizens not to send children to school.
On Sunday, the US Embassy issued an advisory which immediately went viral on many social media platforms on planned attacks on government offices.
The advisory to its citizens read: “There is an elevated risk of terror attacks in Nigeria, specifically in Abuja. Targets may include, but are not limited to, government buildings, places of worship, schools, markets, shopping malls, hotels, bars, restaurants, athletic gatherings, transport terminals, law enforcement facilities, and international organizations. The U.S. Embassy will offer reduced services until further notice,” the statement read.
US citizens in Nigeria were advised to avoid all non-essential travel or movement, stay alert, carry proper identification, avoid crowds, review personal security plans and keep their cell phones charged in case of emergency.
To worsen the panic, a statement by the British High Commission (BHC) slipped onto the social media and got many Nigerians all the more worried, having not heard anything, not even whispers, from the Federal Government.
The statement by Gill Atkinson, of the BHC in Abuja alerted:
“NOTICE ISSUED AT 15:48 on SUNDAY 23 OCTOBER
1. On Monday 24 October, British High Commission Abuja (BHC) will be open for Business Critical staff only. ALL colleagues wishing to travel to BHC should seek authorisation from Line Manager/ Block Leads, and in advance of travel.
2. On Monday 24 October, BHC Abuja UKB parents are advised strongly not to send children to schools.
3. More detail will follow later today from DHC Gill Atkinson.
However, the Public Relations Officer of the DSS, Peter Afunanya, in a press statement in Abuja on Sunday said, “The Department of State Services (DSS) has received several enquiries relating to the security advisory issued by the US Embassy in Abuja, today, 23/10/22. The public may recall that the Service had variously issued similar warnings in the past.
“While advising that necessary precautions are taken by all and sundry, the populace is enjoined to remain alert and assist security agencies with useful information regarding threats and suspicious criminal acts around them.
“Meanwhile, the Service calls for calm as it works with other law enforcement agencies and stakeholders to maintain peace and order in and beyond Abuja”.