By Yusuf Alli, Abuja

 


Security agents swung into action at the weekend, following Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau’s Youtube threat.

Fifty foreign nationals were arrested in Abuja.

Those arrested were mostly illegal aliens from Niger, Chad and Mali, it was gathered.

But the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) yesterday said it was only intensifying surveillance not only in Abuja but in the 36 states.

The Nation learnt that following a tip-off, Immigration operatives stormed a quarters at about 8.15pm. They came in a Coaster bus, painted in the service colour. The bus was escorted by a Toyota Hillux van carrying armed men, mostly.

Most of the armed operatives were in mufti.

A source, who witnessed the surveillance, said: “Having known that it s a hideout of foreign nationals, the Immigration officers came for the combing of the area.

“Gunshots fired into the air sent everyone scampering to safety, including children, nursing mothers and expectant women.

“The gunshots also threw commercial motorcyclists operating in the area into confusion.

“After a 45-minute operation, the Immigration Service succeeded in arresting a bus-load of foreign nationals illegally in transit. They were no fewer than 50.”

Responding to a question, the source said: “They worked on the suspicion that some Chadians, Nigerien, Malian Tuaregs have made Galadinmawa their first port of call in Abuja.

“I think the recent intelligence report, which linked some foreign nationals with Boko Haram informed the raid.

“Confused residents also believed that the raid may not be unconnected with the manhunt for Boko Haram members in the FCT.

“Even before the raid, most residents of Galadinmawa have not been comfortable with the huge presence of foreign nationals in the area.

Immigration Service spokesman Joachim Olumba, said: “I don’t have any information about that yet. What I can tell you is that our operatives are intensifying surveillance in all the states.

“We are intensifying surveillance because of the security situation in the country. These are not the best of times for us as a nation, but we are determined to ensure that peace and security return to the country.

“This surveillance is not only in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), it is being carried out in the 36 states.”

It could not be immediately ascertained what has become of those arrested.

An Immigration Service source said: “Normally, when Illegal aliens are arrested, they will undergo security screening before being deported.”

Security around hotels, churches and other strategic areas remained fight in Abuja yesterday.

A News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) correspondent, who went round the city, observed that policemen, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps and FRSC officers were in strategic locations to ensure peace.

At Sheraton and Transcorp Hilton hotels, it was observed that some military men were deployed to complement the internal security arrangements of the hotel managements.

At Holy Trinity Catholic Church, THISDAY Dome, St Mathew Anglican Church in the Maitama axis, road blocks were mounted and vehicular movement restricted to secure the areas.

At the dome, one of the policemen, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the idea was to ensure effective monitoring of movement of vehicles.

“As you can see, our major focus is to make sure that those who come here to worship go home safely. We are blocking the road just for safety.

“You can see that people pack their vehicles outside; if we don’t block this road, there will be serious traffic here.’’

At Holy Trinity Catholic Church, Maitama, FRSC man Mr Jonah John told NAN that the focus was more on free movement of people at the end of the service.

“What we are doing is part of the security work, but we focus more on ensuring that no accident occurs here.

“You can see that nobody parks inside the church compound; everybody is encouraged to park outside.’’

Security was also strengthened at the Assemblies of God Church in Garki 2 as well as Dunamis Church, Mountain of Fire and Living Faith Church, all in Area 1, Abuja.

 

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