26th March, 2013
The discovery of assault weapons and improvised explosive devices at a house in Ijora, Lagos, suspected to be inhabited by members of the Boko Haram sect last Thursday did not come as a surprise to discerning observers.
This is because just last month, three persons alleged to be members of the Shiite sect were arrested in Ilorin as they were planning to attack some Israeli and American interests in Lagos.
The group, led by a local Shiite leader who had received training in Iran in armed combat and the use of improvised explosive devices, reports revealed, had already concluded plans to attack the Lagos offices of the US Agency for International Development, the Haifa-based ZIM Integrated Shipping Services and the Jewish Cultural Centre.
So, the discovery of a cell of the deadly Islamic extremist group in Ijora with weapons of destruction hidden in the ceiling was something many feared could happen.
With the onslaught on the group in the North, it is expected that they will shift their focus to other parts of the country to achieve their insane desire of islamising the whole country.
We must, however, commend the security agencies for rising to the occasion and preventing what could have turned out to be a destruction of monumental proportion if the extremists had been able to fulfil their agenda. We commend the proactive and timely response of the security agents to a dangerous situation.
Before the raid on the house at Ijora, a leader of the sect arrested in Maiduguri last year, Muhammed Suleiman, had confessed to his interrogators that the sect was considering moving its activities to the Southwest of the country to show that the group is not strictly Hausa or Northern group per se, but an Islamic consciousness made up of Muslims from across the country.
He told State Security Service (SSS) officials that they planned to bomb churches and other strategic places in Lagos. These include a five-star hotel, Tafawa Balewa Square, a popular church and market on Lagos Island and a new generation bank in the city, to announce their presence in the Southwest.
Mohammed who described himself as the coordinator of the planned attack in Lagos, told his interrogators further that Lagos, being the commercial nerve centre of the country, when hit, will shake the country seriously and draw more global attention to the group and its demand.
The Ilorin, Kwara-born extremist told security agents that he had arranged for certain instrument of violence to be moved from the sect’s hideout to some identitfied locations in the southwest, adding that his men were ready to strike before he was arrested.
Herein lies the importance of last Thursday’s raid on the hideout of the group in Ijora.
As much as we commend the security agents for their timely action, we want to advise them not to rest on their oars. They should increase their intelligence gathering activities not only in Lagos but all over the country to tackle the activities of the deadly sect.
We also implore members of the public to be on the alert and report any suspicious movement capable of disrupting the relative peace in Lagos and other parts of the southwest, to the security agents.
Residents should oblige security agents with information on activities of criminal elements living among them. This is no time for complacency. Everybody must be vigilant to check the activities of extremists in our midst.
The governors must meet with leaders of ethnic groups in the southwest to rub minds on how to maintain peace in their states and prevent agents of destabilisation from having a foothold here.