The Federal Government warned yesterday that following the progressive clampdown on the operations of the Boko Haram sect and the arrest of several of its ringleaders, the sect has resorted to recruiting young adherents across Islamic schools in the country in a desperate bid to reinforce its fast depleting ranks.
The government also said military authorities have finally confirmed the link between Boko Haram sect and AL-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb region of the continent.
Raising the alarm, government said members of the sect are already infiltrating some Islamic centres in the country with the aim of indoctrinating and recruiting young pupils to expand its membership base.
Speaking during a meeting with Federal and State security administrators in Abuja, Permanent Secretary, Special Services Office (SSO), Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Engr. Esther Gonda, warned that this emerging antic of the sect was capable of confusing the unsuspecting pupils and distorting their mindset against the state and constitutional values.
She described the development as very “disturbing”, while calling on state governments, security agencies and relevant stakeholders to be on the look-out, to curtail the extremist agenda of the rampaging sect.
“There are disturbing reports about the infiltration of Boko Haram sect members in some Islamic centres. It is our assessment that the indoctrination of pupils at their formative ages could confuse them as to the practice of true religion and erode their loyalty to the constitution and national goals, as well as provide the sect with the support base it needs to pursue its extremist agenda. It is therefore necessary to monitor religious preachings, especially against this emerging trend of teaching pupils ‘false doctrines’”, Gonda said.
While stressing that the incessant bombing attacks of the Boko Haram sect are carefully orchestrated towards national disintegration, she canvassed a synergy of efforts among security agencies at the state level as a deterrent against unpatriotic elements in the country.
She sought the mass media’s cooperation towards a vigorous public enlightenment campaign to raise security awareness among the citizenry, and urged Nigerians especially those at the grassroots to assist security agencies by reporting any suspicious movements or motives to appropriate authorities.
“Boko Haram are members of our communities and we want a situation where people will alert the security agencies and report any untoward or abnormal behaviours in their families. Security agencies have the statutory duty to defend lives and property of the citizens, but they are not spirits. They can only discharge their duties when they receive useful information from members of the public,” Gonda said.
Sect receives training from Al-Qaeda —DHQ
The Defence Headquarters has also disclosed that military authorities have confirmed the link between the activities of the sect in Nigeria and the support and training it received from Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghrib region of the continent.
Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Oluseyi Petirin who made the disclosure at an emergency preparatory meeting of selected members of the Committee of Chiefs of Defence Staff in Abuja, noted that the instability in Libya and activities of Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb had a spill over effect into our sub-region.
Represented by the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ola Sa’ad Ibrahim, the CDS said: “In addition, piracy and sea robbery which have continued to thrive in the maritime domains of some member states within the Gulf of Guinea have remained a matter of serious concern with its attendant implications on socio-economic and political development of the sub-region”.
Disclosing that the emergency meeting was coming on the heels of 40th ordinary session of the heads of state of ECOWAS countries which held in Abuja from 16-17 Feb. 2012, the CDS said, “Based on the outcome of that meeting, we are required to review the emerging threats in the Sahel region and the Gulf of Guinea.
“In addition, we are required to propose concrete recommendations towards addressing these threats affecting the sub region as a collective responsibility and only countries that are directly affected by these threats were invited for the preparatory meeting”.
While noting that “we all have had our individual and collective challenges to security and defence in the ECOWAS sub region” he emphasized the widely held view that threats to National security and regional peace and security in West Africa were deeply rooted in political, social and economic factors.
In her remarks, Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security of ECOWAS, Mrs. Salamatu Suleiman noted that “The issue of the Tuareg rebellions in the Sahel, particularly in Niger and Mali (following Libyan crisis), food security situation, refugees and the circulation of small arms in the region continue to be of serious concern to the community”.
“In order to avert the spread of these adverse developments to other countries in the region, the commission is of the view that ECOWAS needs to intervene decisively. However, these threats to security in the Sahel Sahara region are not the only ones in West Africa ”, she said.
PSC refers five other policemen to FHQ for punishment
Meanwhile the five policemen led by an Inspector of police, in whose custody the Boko Haram Kingpin, Kabiru Sokoto escaped at Abaji when they took the suspect to his house for further investigation in January, have been referred to the Police High Command at Force headquarters for appropriate disciplinary action.
It will be recalled that it was Zakari Biu who gave them the assignment”.
Vanguard gathered that the expected punishment for the junior officers ranges from demotion in rank, loss of seniority and if any of the policemen was found to had been directly involved in Sokoto’s escape, he will be dismissed and prosecuted.
A recommendation was made to the Police authorities to give the officers the deserved punishment while the Policemen on their part were advised by the PSC to report back to the commission if they felt that the punishment handed over to them by Force headquarters was not commensurate with or above the offence they feel they committed.
It would be recalled that the officers while on transit to the house of Kabiru Sokoto in Abaji, were ambushed by a mob of Muslim youths who forcefully aided the Boko Haram kingpin to escape.
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