Joint Task Force
By Chiemelie Ezeobi
A two-week raid carried out by a Joint Task Force led by operatives of the Nigerian Army, 81 Division Headquarters, Lagos, may have once again saved residents in Lagos and Ogun States from possible attacks by terrorists, THISDAY investigations revealed Tuesday.
The joint raid had led to the arrest of 42 members of the dreaded Boko Haram sect who were dislodged from the North-east by military purge carried out under emergency rule in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe States and had migrated to Lagos and Ogun States to regroup and plant terrorist cells.
THISDAY gathered that the suspects were rounded up through insider information by one of the supposed Boko Haram members stationed in Lagos, who unknown to the suspects, was actually planted and had their telephone numbers tracked by the military operatives.
The General Officer Commanding (GOC), Major General Obi Umahi, while parading the suspects on Monday had disclosed that their mandate was probably to form terrorist cells in the South-west.
But based on intelligence reports, the suspects were smoked out from Ibafo and Ileke new trailer garage in Ogun State, Mafoluku, Alaba, Ijora-Badia, Aviation Quarters in Mafoluku-Oshodi, Ketu and Mile 2 motor parks, Orile trailer park, Lekki new extension and Bar Beach in Victoria Island.
He added that the influx of terrorists to the South-west was part of plans to regroup and unleash terror in the region having been dislodged from their original base in the north.
The source allayed fears that the suspects had already smuggled weapons and explosives into Lagos, adding that their main and present objective as preliminary investigations had revealed, was to build new terrorist cells after the last ones were abandoned.
He however admitted that although attacks by the sect in the region was part of their plan, they were supposed to wait until after they had regrouped and built the terror cells from which they would launch their attacks.
The JTF had four months ago, uncovered and dismantled the plot by the alleged terrorists to plant cells in the western part of the country with Lagos as the headquarters.
THISDAY had reported that the suspects led by the armourer, who had their hideout at the Ijora-Badia area of Lagos, had already perfected plans to simultaneously bomb 16 landmark locations in Lagos including tank farms in Apapa and Ijora as well as the popular Third Mainland Bridge.
During the arrest, the task force had mopped up a large cache of arms and explosives, and effected the arrest of 16 suicide bombers who had been trained to attack various locations in Lagos.
After the last incident, the source added that although the suspects had been dislodged from the north, they had migrated to Lagos after reaching out to the person that was planted in Lagos as their contact.
The contact person, it was gathered, was supposed to help them blend into the society in Lagos and find them menial jobs in order to look inconspicuous while they carried out plans to regroup and plant the cells.
The source said: “When the task force in the North-east got an intelligence report that some of the suspects were about to flee to Lagos, they planted one of their own in the state to act as their contact person.
“So for each suspect that was deployed to Lagos, the number of the contact person was given out and once they made contact, they were received and blended among innocent citizens.
“Meanwhile, the contact person was giving intelligence report to the task force on the state of things. At a predetermined signal, some of them who were already riding motorcycles or doing menial jobs were picked up.”
He added: “In the course of interrogation, they were able to give the security operatives concrete tips on the whereabouts of other members of the sect. That is why the raid took place over a period of two weeks.
“However, some of them were picked up when they attempted to call their members who were in detention. The security operatives traced the numbers and picked them up too.”
THISDAY further learnt that the whereabouts of the suspects remain shrouded in secrecy, as the State Security Service (SSS) had on Monday said they would not keep the suspects because they didn't have enough room to hold 42 of them.
The source explained that the high level of secrecy on their whereabouts was to ensure that reinforcement by the sect would not be sent to forcibly release them from custody.