The police have deployed armed undercover operatives in Eid prayer grounds nationwide to frustrate plots by terrorists to attack the places of worship, where Muslim faithful will pray on Monday (today) to mark the Eid el Kabir.
One of our correspondents was told on Sunday that the operatives would complement the efforts of the regular personnel that would provide security at the prayer grounds.
It was learnt that the plain-clothes operatives would serve as a quick response force to foil any terrorist attempt at the places of worship.
The police and the Department of State Services had, on Wednesday, warned that extremists had planned to attack about 11 states in the country between Monday (today) and Tuesday.
The security agencies, acting on the intelligence report, called for the suspension of the Edo State governorship election, which was supposed to hold on Saturday, last week.
One of our correspondents saw a detachment of policemen at the Eid prayer ground along Airport Road, Abuja, on Sunday.
A source said, “The operation procedure for the Sallah involves the deployment of undercover operatives, who will blend with the Muslim faithful while on high alert to guard against any attack at the Eid grounds. Besides, personnel will also be deployed in all vulnerable and dark spots.
“We are not doing this alone; it is a joint operation with other sister security agencies to ensure a water-tight security cover during the celebration.”
Checks indicated that the various specialised units of the police, such as the Police Mobile Force, Counter-Terrorism Units and the Explosive Ordinance Department had been directed to take positions at the prayer grounds 24 hours to the Eid celebration.
The Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, had earlier directed command’s commissioners of police and zonal Assistant Inspectors-General of Police to deploy adequate personnel to cover all the Eid-el-Kabir prayer grounds, recreation centres, public places, public infrastructure and utilities, and other points and venues where the Eid celebrations would hold.
The Commissioner of Police in the Federal Capital Territory Command, Muhammad Mustafa, stated that he had ordered the massive deployment of plainclothes and uniformed police operatives around praying grounds, shopping malls, gardens, recreational spots, critical infrastructures, motor parks and other areas.
This arrangement, he said, also included the strategic deployment of personnel on foot and motorised patrols along all streets and major roads across the FCT.
Mustafa issued the directive during the command’s strategic operational meeting which was attended by heads of department, area commanders and divisional police officers.
Zonal, state commands’ operatives storm Eid grounds environs
Meanwhile, the Lagos State Police Command has directed policemen in mufti to join Muslim faithful across the state at prayer grounds as parts of measures to forestall terror attacks and ensure hitch-free celebrations.
The command said it had deployed no fewer than 15,000 policemen for various security duties during the two-day Sallah holiday.
The Police Public Relations Officer, Dolapo Badmos, who confirmed the development to The PUNCH on Sunday, said all recreation centres and prayer grounds would be closely monitored by the police.
Badmos, a Superintendent of Police, said, “There will also be deployment of plain-cloth, intelligence-gathering policemen in the prayer grounds.
“In addition, all the recreation centres and prayer grounds will be fortified with police presence.
“The officers will be drawn from all formations and they are approximately 15,000 personnel.”
In a related development, the Assistant Inspector-General of Police, Zone 2 Command, Onikan, Lagos State, Abdulmajid Ali, said the command would deploy over 200 officers to complement the Lagos and Ogun states police commands on special duty for the Sallah.
He said, “As part of the responsibility of the Nigeria Police Force to protect lives and property and to maintain peace and order, I have met with the two commissioners of police under my zone on the need to put up anti-crime measures during the Eid-el-Kabir celebration.
“We will intensify patrols on the various Eid prayer grounds. We have also deployed over 200 personnel to augment the manpower of the commands.’’
In Yobe State, the state police command said it would restrict movement in the state on Monday for eight hours as the state government planned to foil any attacks on worshippers.
The state government, in a statement by the Director of Press Affairs to Governor Ibrahim Gaidam, Mallam Abdullah Bego, said vehicular movement would not be allowed between 6am and 2pm on Monday.
The statement read in part, “Following meetings with heads of law enforcement agencies, the Yobe State Government has approved the placement of restriction on vehicular movement throughout the state from 6am to 2pm on Monday, September 12, 2016.
“The eight-hour restriction is placed as part of measures to ensure public safety as we mark the Eid on Monday.”
Also, the Bauchi State police command disclosed plans to deploy 2,982 policemen to all strategic locations in the state during the Sallah celebrations.
The state Commissioner of Police, Haliru Gwandu, said the command was battle-ready to forestall any breakdown of law and order before, during and after the Sallah.
Speaking in an interview with The PUNCH on Sunday, Gwandu said, “We have deployed 2,982 policemen, comprising the mobile police, counter-terrorism squad, mounted troops and the conventional police.
“All prayer venues will be combed and fortified by our officers and men.
“Our instruments are capable of neutralising any explosive either solid or liquid. We have experts that can go round to ensure that men of questionable characters are traced.”
In Edo State, there was no physical presence of uniformed security operatives at the Muslim prayer ground on Ikpoba slope, Benin, as of Sunday.
Only a few fun seekers were seen when one of our correspondents visited the place on Sunday evening.
But the state’s Commissioner of Police, Mr. Fimihan Adeoye, told The PUNCH that the state command had made “necessary” arrangements to ensure a hitch-free celebration.
“The prayer ground will be covered adequately, the recreation centres will be covered,” he said.
The Commissioner of Police in Osun State, Mr. Femi Oyeleye, told The PUNCH in Osogbo that despite the low crime rate in the state, the command had mobilised all its men to ensure adequate protection of lives and property of the people of the state, especially during the Sallah.
He said policemen had been deployed in all parts of the state and the highways to prevent criminals from unleashing terror on the people.
“We are fully prepared. Our men have been deployed all over the state and specifically relaxation spots and prayer grounds to ensure that everything is in order.
“There are undercover and uniformed officers all over to make sure that the state is safe from criminals. Osun State is a safe state but we are not relenting.”
Also, our correspondent observed increased presence of policemen on the roads leading to the state and on major streets in Osogbo, the state capital.
In Kwara State, security agencies have been deployed in strategic places near and at the Muslim prayer grounds.
One of our correspondents, who visited the Yidi prayer ground on Sunday, observed that officials of the police, Federal Road Safety Corps, Kwara State Traffic Management Agency, Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps and the Nigerian Vigilante Group manned strategic places and junctions in Ilorin, especially the roads leading to the Yidi Prayer Ground.
It was observed that both undercover and uniformed security personnel had been stationed at strategic places.
The PUNCH learnt that no fewer than 50 police officers and 70 officials of the VGN had taken positions at the entrances and the exit gates of the Ilorin prayer ground.
Reports from across the state also indicated high presence of security operatives at roads leading to and the actual prayer grounds in the areas.
The Kwara State Commandant, VGN, Alhaji Raheem Serinkin-Danji, said 200 of his personnel had been deployed in the Ilorin Yidi Prayer Ground while 300 had been deployed in other parts of the state.
The Kwara State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Olusola Amore, said 4,700 police officers of the command would be deployed to ensure security in the state during the Eid-el-Kabir prayers.
The CP, who spoke through the command’s Police Public Relations Officer, Mr. Ajayi Okasanmi, on Sunday, said 1,500 policemen would be deployed in the Ilorin metropolis while the remaining 3,200 policemen would oversee security in other parts of the state.
Also the Commandant, NSCDC, Kwara State Command, Mr. Pedro Ideba, said 2,500 of his personnel would be deployed in the state for the prayers and festivities.
Ideba, who spoke through the command’s Public Relations Officer, Mr. Bilesanmi Henry, said, “We are deploying 2,500 in the state. In the Ilorin metropolis, we have 1,500 while the remaining 1,000 personnel are for other parts of the state.”
Story by: Fidelis Soriwei, Adelani Adepegba, Femi Makinde, Success Nwogu, Oleleye Aluko, Alexander Okere, Michael Olugbode and Armstrong Bakam