Why We Exposed Boko Haram Members In Our Midst – Trailer Park Unions

Following the recent arrest of 42 suspected members of Boko Haram in Lagos and Ogun States, members of the Nigeria Union of Road Transport Workers in some of the named locations have stepped up vigilance, writes ARUKAINO UMUKORO

park-360x165Ileke new trailer garage, Ogun State, used to be a quiet park for heavy duty trailer trucks. That was until recently, when it was named as one of the areas where 42 suspected members of Boko Haram were apprehended in various parts of Lagos and Ogun states.

They were paraded last Monday by the 81 Division of the Nigerian Army in Lagos.

According to the Nigerian Army, the suspects fled from Borno State following a state of emergency declared by the Federal Government. The General Officer Commanding the 81 Division, Maj.- Gen. Obi Umahi, explained the raid was carried out following intelligence report that the sect planned to unleash terror on parts of the South-West.

The suspects were arrested during raids by intelligence operatives between July 12 and 23 at Ibafo trailer park and Ileke new trailer garage in Ogun State; Aviation quarters at Mafoluku, Oshodi; Ketu/Mile 12 Motor Park; Orile Trailer Park; Lekki new extension and Bar Beach, Lagos

According to Maj. Gen. Umahi, these places were fast becoming Boko Haram enclaves.

When SUNDAY PUNCH paid a visit to Ileke, the chairman, Nigeria Union of Road Transport Workers, Heavy Duty Trucks, at Ileke New Trailer Park, Abdullahi Danliti, told our correspondent that the community was doing its best to ensure that Boko Haram suspects do not infiltrate the area again.

Explaining how the suspects were arrested, Danliti said members of the park “worked in hand with security agents to fish out the some of the arrested suspects in Ileke and it environs. He said they came from Maiduguri.”

“It would not take us more than a day or two to fish out a stranger who comes to this place, because every single person living here has a guarantor and we have a file for everyone, with their passports and addresses; we know the truck drivers and the people we have in this community, where they come from, even their visitors. There are only two entrances to this garage, there is no way someone can sneak in and we wouldn’t know.” he told our correspondent.

Walking further into the park, there is a row of shops made of wood, which sometimes serve as residential quarters for some. Could it also become a hiding place for some criminal elements? Not at all, noted Danliti. As far as he was concerned, there were no suspicious elements in the community.

“We know the people who live here and where they come from, even their visitors. We have been working with the different commissioners of police for several years now; sometimes they invite the Hausa community, which I am a member of, for some secret meetings… We are not praying that Boko Haram comes to the South West. We are also praying for the problem to end in the northern part of the country,” he said.

While he described the recent arrests of some of the suspects in Ibafo and Ileke as unfortunate, he said other trailer parks also had their own security measures to prevent such occurrence.

“They have their leaders and vigilante groups; while the police and army patrol the area regularly every week, sometimes the security operatives come in mufti,” he added.

Mr. Doyin Abiodun, secretary of the NURTW Heavy Duty Trucks, at the Ibafo trailer park, echoed Danliti’s sentiments. He said: “You will always find people here 24 hours every day, NURTW people, parking attendants to the trucks, and so on. So if they see any strange thing or person, they will call our attention to it. We also have different security patrol teams regularly visiting this place, and can call them if we see any strange thing. It is a collective responsibility.”

Mr. Abiodun also noted that it would be very difficult for Boko Haram to have a base in Ibafo trailer park or its environs because everyone in the area was familiar with each other. “That was why the people here were able to expose them (the suspects). The problem we have here is that some of the persons who were arrested were linked to some of the people selling diesel oil on the Lagos-Ibadan expressway – 95 per cent of them are from the northern part of the country and they keep bringing their brothers here. Every day you see new faces, and we have been trying to check that. They have an association to handle that,” he told our correspondent.

According to Danliti, the association has over 200 members. “What I know is that members pay N25,000 before they register for the association, so why would any one of them now decide to bring someone to stay illegally?” he queried, arguing that nobody should be judged by appearance, tribe or religion.

“Boko Haram members are not only Hausas, there are many other tribes involved too, it is not about religion or language; bad people are bad people anywhere, that is why all Nigerians should pray against it,” he said.

At the Mile 12 Motor Park, some bus drivers at the park spoken to by our correspondent were ignorant of the recent security operation. A couple of soldiers were seen, at different times, positioned at strategic locations, some metres away from the Police Post.

Investigations are still on-going and the public would be kept abreast of development, noted the spokesperson, 81 Division of the Nigerian Army, Colonel Kingsley Umoh, who spoke to our correspondent on the phone.

“This is not the first time we are making such arrests. I also want to emphasise that the military is not working in isolation, but with all the other security agencies. The message the military has been sending out is hitting home now and people are becoming a little more understanding of the need to report suspicious movements, questionable characters and be a lot more vigilant about what they see. What you can be sure of is that these efforts of the military will be unrelenting, consistent and continuous,” he said.