May 3, 2012 by Adelani Adepegba, Mustapha Salihu and Eniola Akinkuotu
Acting Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Mohammed Abubakar, has directed all state commissioners of police to beefup security around media houses in the country.
This is just as the training of 100 policemen in the handling of Explosive Ordinance Disposal has begun.
The IG’s directive followed the threat by Boko Haram to attack PUNCH and some other South-based newspapers in the country.
The sect made the threat in a Youtube video on Tuesday, in which it justified last Friday’s suicide bomb attack on ThisDay Newspapers office in Jabi, Abuja.
Speaking at a dinner with crime correspondents in Abuja on Tuesday, Abubakar stated that the police would provide security for media outfits.
He also gave the assurance that efforts would be made to protect journalists from harm.
“I’m aware of the threat to media houses by the group of criminals causing trouble in parts of the country. I have directed all commissioners of police in charge of state commands to provide security for journalists and media houses. We won’t allow any harm to befall them,” the IG said.
He also vowed that security agencies would continue to combat terrorists in their areas of operation.
He urged Nigerians to support the security agencies in their efforts to deal with security threats across the country by providing useful information.
Also on Tuesday, the State Security Service said it was investigating the sect’s threat to attack media houses.
SSS Deputy Director, Media and Publicity, Marilyn Ogar, said the agency was working to thwart any plot against the media.
She dismissed the report of a bomb scare in Abuja on Tuesday, adding that the “stop and search” operation conducted on persons and vehicles by security agencies was a proactive measure led by the Brigade of Guards to assure the public of their combat readiness.
She said, “There was no bomb scare in Abuja as reported by some newspapers. The stop and search conducted on Tuesday was a show of force by the Brigade of Guards to show that they are alert to any security issue.”
Meanwhile, the training of the 100 policemen in EOD techniques began on Wednesday in Lagos, in a bid to address the rising level of insecurity in the country as well as incessant bombings.
The training is in response to the IG’s order that the EOD should intensify security in all states where it has units and should also endeavour to establish its presence in states where it has none.
The training was formally opened on Wednesday in Lagos by the Commissioner of Police in charge of the EOD, Mr. Folusho Adebanjo, who represented the IG.
The spokesperson for the EOD, Mr. Gbolahan Moronfolu, said it was meant to strengthen the capability of the police in the handling of explosives.
He said, “The 100 participants are conventional policemen from various police commands and formations who were successful in an aptitude test previously conducted by the EOD. The course is for one month and will centre on the basic training module.
“The actual aim is to strengthen the workforce of the EOD command throughout the federation in view of the incessant bombings. The training aims to increase personnel and use them to create more units in states where there is no EOD unit.
“Many embassies, media houses, police divisions as well as other possible targets will now have more EOD presence.”
On Wednesday, the Lagos State Police Command summoned all area commanders that have media houses under their jurisdiction to its headquarters.
The command’s spokesman, Mr. Joseph Jaiyeoba, who confirmed this to one of our correspondents on the telephone, explained it was in response to the Boko Haram threat.
He said, “The Deputy Commissioner of Police in charge of operations, Mr. Tunde Sobulo, is presently having a meeting with area commanders who have media houses within their areas of operation.
“Since the April 26, 2012 attack on some media houses in Abuja and Kaduna, the Commissioner of Police for the Lagos State Police Command, Mr. Umar Manko, had ordered that security should be beefed up in the state. But with the recent threat, we have to restrategise.”
Jaiyeoba said he would inform our correspondent about the security measures being implemented by the command.
The SSS command in Kano State has arrested a middle aged chemical merchant, Ayuba Usman, suspected to be dealing in chemicals for the production of explosives to Boko Haram members.
Usman, who is a native of Dala Local Government Area in Kano metropolis, was paraded before newsmen by the Director of SSS in the state, Mr. Bassey Eteng, on Wednesday.
The alleged merchant was found in possession of 35 big drums of highly combustible chemicals and substances used for making bombs and other Improvised Explosive Devices.
Eteng said, “Chemicals are controlled items and they are supposed to be sold to people legitimately for economic use. But when we then find some individuals selling them to other individuals, then these individuals turn them to harmful use on innocent persons.”
He stated that the arrest of Usman, whose shop is located in one of the main markets in the state, was effected through information provided by a suspect in custody.
The director, however, refused to name the market where the suspect’s business place was located for security reasons. He stated that Usman’s arrest followed Tuesday’s successful raid by the Joint Task Force on a suspected Boko Haram factory/house located at Bubugaje in Sharada Phase 111 Industrial Estate in Kano metropolis.
“The suspect brought before you is a suspect whom we found from investigations to have links with some extremist elements.
“And what I believe, based on statements made by the high profile suspect the service is dealing with, we were able to know that the suspect, Ayuba Usman, has been providing very combustive chemicals to the extremist group.
“These are the chemicals being used in making Improvised Explosive Devices and other types of explosive devices. He was arrested yesterday (Tuesday) in Kano. He is the owner of all the (chemical) substances found in his shop. These substances are controlled items.
“Suspects in custody were able to identify their main link of where, from whom they are getting the above materials and who provides them the materials in Kano. This happened to be Ayuba Usman They (terrorist bombers) mix this thing with fertiliser and other inflammable substances.
“He was not just picked because he is selling these materials, but because information from those in custody, who identified him, who described him, where his shop is; led us to his arrest.