Amid cynicism over a security report that suggested that the Islamic State West Africa may be responsible for the mindless killings in Benue State, President Muhammadu Buhari Monday pledged his commitment to ending the recurring clashes between farmers and pastoralists around the country.
According to one of such reports, many members of Islamic State in West Africa (ISWA) who infiltrated Nigeria have been arrested in Benue, Edo and Kogi.
Security and political anaĺysts query the timing of the release of the information. “Why now? Are we now saying the Boko Haram group affiliated with ISIS has overrun us so much that they are now part of us, yet we claim we are winning the war in the North East. If this is by any shade true, then it is scary,” one said.
Security operatives, according to News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) report, revealed that a “good number” of the Islamic State terrorists were arrested in Okpella and Benin in Edo state, as well as Okene, in Kogi.
This information is contained in a security report submitted to President Muhammadu Buhari recently by the affected security service outfits.
The report indicated that ISWA network was using foreign terrorists and recruiting young men to fight and kill innocent persons ostensibly to exacerbate tensions along the county’s ethnic, religious and regional fault lines.
According to a Presidency source, this discovery was made following the arrest of some suspected attackers made up Fulani herdsmen, government-sponsored militias, militants and other miscreants in Benue Sate.
The source revealed that among those in custody were many who spoke none of the languages native to Nigeria but the French language.
“”This is the first time that security officials have confirmed that the Islamic State in West Africa members are operating as a unit in Nigeria and the level of their penetration of the country,’’ the source added.
“”It is understood that the cell, which has members in different parts of the country concentrates on recruiting young men to fight for the Islamic State in West Africa by unleashing the cold-blooded murder of innocent citizens.
“”There was intelligence that they had planned several attacks here, before and during Christmas and the New Year. Their bombing targets included fuel depots, foreign missions and police and military establishments.
“”Their network is very wide. But so much was achieved by the DSS which had made a significant number of arrests in the last two months that helped to pre-empt those attacks.
”This helped to save Nigeria from the spate of major terrorist attacks witnessed elsewhere that were syndicated by ISIS worldwide,’’ the source maintained.
NAN gathered that the reports submitted to the presidency had also revealed that security officials now fear an influx of other ISIS members into many parts of the country.
“We are learning more and more about this complex and sophisticated network.
“”This is the main reason why the secret service is not parading those suspects so far arrested. It has become clear to us by now, that the challenge facing this country is a serious one.”
Buhari at a meeting with the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG) said security agents deployed to affected areas was optimistic that secrity agents would bring the menace of marauding herdsmen to an end.
According to a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, “The President assured Nigerians that the rising attacks on communities by herdsmen will soon be brought under control by security forces deployed to the vulnerable areas across the country.
“He said the unfortunate incident of attacks, which had resulted in loss of lives and properties, had already brought sorrow and hardship on many Nigerians, with the government deeply affected.”