Security Agents Avert Bloody Easter

Makinde-2Makinde Condemns  IEDs In Gombe

Southeast Bound Passengers Stranded  At Lagos Airport

JTF Says Kano Not Under Any Threat, As It Deploys

Armoured Vehicles On Major Streets

AS Nigerian Christians join their counterparts worldwide to mark the resurrection of Jesus Christ tomorrow, the Prelate of the Methodist Church Nigeria, Dr. Sunday Ola Makinde has described the discovery by operatives of the State Security Service (SSS), of 60 Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) planted in different locations at the British Cotton Ginnery Area (BCGA) in Gombe State and programmed to explode yesterday, eve of Easter, as a sign that God is listening to the prayers of Nigerians0 .

The cleric, in a press release by the church’s Media and Public Relations Officer, Rev Oladapo Daramola, said: “The discovery of these bombs, which led to the foiled attempt, is a huge leap in the quest to quell the rage of the sect, Boko Haram, which has claimed several innocent lives and continues to traumatise our national psyche.”

Makinde, while commending the SSS and other government security agencies that worked on the operation for a job well done, however, urged the security personnel not to rest on their oars, as there is still a lot of work to be done.

He said: “The battle against evil in the land must be won. I urge Christians and all people of faith to intensify prayers, because the prayers we have been making is not going down the drain, as this latest efforts of our security operatives is clearly prayers answered.”

He, however, called on Nigerians to be extra security conscious, saying the business of securing lives and property cannot be left to government alone.

“Everybody must be vigilant and should be at alert and be prepared to report anything found to be strange to the nearest security agent around,” he said. “That is the only way to ensure that these evil people do not find a place in our communities and society at large.”   Meanwhile, most passengers going to the Southeast geo-political zone for the Easter celebration had a tough time at the domestic wing of the Murtala Mohammed International Airports in Lagos yesterday, as many of them who had bought their tickets three weeks ago decried the rescheduling or outright cancellation of their flights, with some of them, especially women with babies wearing long faces as they battled to pacify their agitated children.

One of the aggrieved passengers at MMA2 Departure Lounge, Kelechi Festus said the only alternative was for the concerned airline to make arrangement for them to travel.

“Today, this thing will end. I paid N36, 000 three weeks ago for a flight ticket from Lagos to and fro Port Harcourt.

“The flight was meant to leave at 2.25pm, but I was told that the flight left by 1pm when I arrived at the airport to check in.

“I did not receive any SMS (Short Message Service) that the flight had been rescheduled,” he fumed.

Kelechi was more worried because there was no more flight going to Port Harcourt until after Easter, as he said: “Officials of the airline said they were going to refund my money for my flight ticket to Port Harcourt alone, that I should find my way to Port Harcourt and come back with my return ticket.”

Vivian Kalu also booked for the same route three weeks ago from Dublin, Ireland, but she was stranded at the MMA2 with her husband.

“We booked through an agent. We are going for the weeding of my brother in-law in Port Harcourt and my husband is supposed to be the father of the day.

“The ceremony is holding tomorrow morning (today) and we need to sort out some things when we get to Port Harcourt,” she lamented.

In her own case, Chika Okoye received an SMS from the airline on Thursday that the flight had been rescheduled, but there was no indication as to the new time or date for the flight.

“All their flights to the Southeast are already overbooked. That is the problem,” she said.

One of the lucky passengers going to Owerri, who simply identified himself as Jude, said he received an SMS alert from the airline intimating him of the flight reschedule.

“We were supposed to leave at 3.10 pm, but we are now leaving by 2.10pm due to operational reasons, which is one hour earlier.

“Every Good Friday, it is always like that with some airlines. The same thing happened last year Easter,” he noted.

One airport official, who preferred to be identified simply as Emeka, disclosed that the problem arose because flights to the Southeast were fully booked, some till tomorrow.

“It is better to book earlier to avoid rush and disappointment,” he stated, unknown to him that some of the stranded passengers even booked far ahead of schedule.

The Duty Manager of one of the airlines acknowledged the rescheduling of some of his airline’s flights, but added that he was not in the best position to comment further on the situation.

The situation was calm at the old terminal, as most airlines operating from there and passengers went about their businesses peacefully and without any hitch.

But virtually all the flights, especially to the Southeast, were fully booked.

In a related development, the Joint Task Force (JTF) in Kano State yesterday stated that the state was not under any form of threat from the Boko Haram insurgents this Easter period.

This comes as the United States (US) and United Kingdom (UK) warned their citizens against traveling to some parts of the country, including Kano State.

JTF spokesperson, Lt. Ikedichi Iweha assured residents of the city that the JTF would live up to expectation of guaranteeing the safety of their lives and properties.

He spoke just as the state police command announced that it had so far trained over 1000 of its men on the art of containing the activities of terrorists in the country.

Iweha, while faulting a news report that Kano could come under another deadly attack during the Easter break, said it must have been concocted by its authors to achieve an ulterior motive unknown to the JTF.

According to him: “I did not grant any interview to the writer of the story, neither did I issue any statement that suggested that Kano would be attacked during the Easter period.

“We are happy that we have recorded tremendous progress, in terms of peace and security of lives and properties since the January attack in Kano and anybody conscious of the present situation in Kano would have every reason to thank the JTF for the good work it has been able to do to keep the peace and keep the trouble makers at bay.”

He urged journalists to adhere to the ethics of their profession, reiterating the resolve of the JTF to discharge its duties with utmost sense of professionalism.

Though there was less vehicular and human traffic in the metropolis yesterday, Kano remained calm, even as fierce looking members of the JTF were sighted patrolling the city in armoured vehicles as early as 9 a.m. along Sabon-Gari area of the city.

This was ostensibly part of its measures to enhance security in the city, especially during the Easter celebrations.

Similarly, armed soldiers have also been drafted to some strategic locations in the city to further enhance security and prevent possible attacks during the period.

Security was also beefed up in all parts of the town, with some of the checkpoints recently dismantled on the orders of Inspector General of Police Mohammed Dikko Abubakar resurfacing along the streets.

Kano State Police Commissioner, Alhaji Ibrahim Idris disclosed that policemen trained in the art of curbing terrorist activities were selected from the 72 police divisions in the state.

He stated that the exercise was in line with the training and retraining objective of the police high command, adding that those trained were equipped with the latest technique on combat craft, marksmanship and on curtailing anti-terrorism operation and assured residents of adequate security during the Easter celebrations.

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