Terrorism… Shopping Malls, Tank Farms Under Surveillance.

Following the attack on the Nairobi’s Westgate Mall in Kenya and in view of the renewed deadly campaign by the violent religious sect, Boko Haram, security agencies have beefed up surveillance around malls, fuel tanker terminals, tank farms and other strategic locations.
Top hierarchies of the Nigerian security agencies, who spoke allayed fears that the kind of deadly attack on the Kenyan mall could be carried out in the country, but added that the intelligence community would not leave things to chance.
Director, Department of State Security Services (DSS), Lagos Command, Mr. Ben Achu-Olayi, in a telephone conversation yesterday, noted the incident in Kenya and said, “We get over excited when such things happen. We have a more challenging security problem at hand that has given us an edge and ground work.
“However, one thing to do is to sustain and upgrade our security systems. At the moment, we have data bank of all shopping malls and high rise buildings in the state and they are under surveillance. For those owned by individuals, we have advised them to upgrade their security system but generally, we have stepped up security in the state.”
Achu-Olayi while maintaining that “Lagos is safe”, also disclosed that steps had been taken to ensure that it remains a safe city, adding that a robust security measure had been put around tank farms and tanker terminals.
The General Officer Commanding (GOC), 81 Division Headquarters, Major General Abel Umahi, said security agencies were prepared to ensure the safety of lives and properties around Lagos and neighbouring states.
“Our patrol along with other security agencies is a continuous thing. We also do security threat analysis because we don’t believe anything is impossible in today’s world of global terrorism”, Umahi said.
The army general however added that, “But the first line of defence is for representatives and authorities that run organisations and private companies to act responsibly security wise. We have intimated them that if they have a hunch or breach of security, they should inform us and then we would superimpose our security personnel through covert and overt patrol.”
On the latest development on the 42 Boko Haram suspects arrested by the command in Lagos recently, Umahi said intelligence gathering “is a continuous process.”
“We have mopped up about 42 of the suspects”, he explained, adding, “If we get fresh information, we would act on it but based on what we have so far, they were mopped up but at the same time, we have taken proactive measures.”
Debunking speculations that the Boko Haram sect might have acquired equipment that could breach the air defence system, the Director, NAF Information Office, Air Commodore Yusuf Anas, said there was no need for panic.
He said, “As far as I am concerned, it is pedestrian talkbut at the same time, it is our statutory responsibility to defend Nigeria’s territorial air space with whatever it takes and that is exactly what we have been doing and will continue to do.”
Also speaking, on the measures taken by the Police in Lagos to forestall the kind of attack that happened in Kenya, the state Police Public Relations Officer, DSP Ngozi Braide, said security had been beefed up.
Braide who spoke through her deputy, Chukwuma Ozoani, an Assistant Superintendent of Police, said it was pertinent to first understand that Nigeria is not Kenya and as such, whatever happened might not be replicated here.
He said if you go round, you will notice a high presence of police patrol vehicles and Armoured Personnel Carriers stationed there.
“Asides that, there are so many police operatives mapped out for surveillance while some others are permanently stationed there to monitor. It is a daily occurrence. So we are prepared all the time.”
He added that besides the human presence, they also have beefed up security with the Close Circuit Cameras (CCTV), strategically positioned to give live feeds of activities in the ever busy mall.
He said, “Most of these malls have CCTV and we use the feed to monitor the business activities in and out of the malls. The police are very alert and we are capable of responding to such situations speedily.
Also Friday, the Federal Government expressed its displeasure over online media reports on the state of emergency in three north-eastern states.
Minister of Information and Supervising Minister of Defence, Mr. Labaran Maku described some reports as unguarded and unpatriotic, adding such news undermine military strategy and demoralise the troops.
Speaking in Osogbo, the minister said such reports were counter-productive to the efficient peace enforcement measures in states under emergency rule and were “deliberately contrived to undermine military strategy, demoralise our troops, or even cause incitement to mutiny. This is unacceptable.”
Maku also said that the Defence Headquarters had cause to complain on several occasions about inciting online reports which clearly undermined military operations.
Commenting further on the deadly activities of the sect, The information minister said “we are dealing with enemies that have international connection, enemies that use international weapons and enemies with international influence, with good money got from different people around the world.”
Meanwhile, the Nigerian Army has distanced itself from the controversy surrounding the unauthorized announcement of the death of Boko Haram leader, Abubakar Shekau, by the Joint Task Force (JTF) last month following the recent video message released by Shekau to debunk the claim.
On Friday, the Director of Army Public Relations, Brig-Gen. Ibrahim Attahiru, clarified that the Army Headquarters were not in charge of operational modalities during the announcement and therefore not aware of any conflict.
According to Attahiru, all enquiries on the announcement of Shekau’s death should be directed to the Defence Headquarters, specifically the Director of Defence Information who was in charge activities during the period the JTF Operation BOYONA made the controversial announcement in Maiduguri, Borno state.
He said: “All these things are not to my knowledge that it was done that way (JTF announcing without authorization) because up until recently I was not operating under that arrangement. The JTF was under the Defence Headquarters.
“So you need to find out from the other man (Director of Defence Information) who was in charge. I was not aware of any conflict (of authority)”.
The Army Spokesman however maintained the position that the Army Headquarters was still investigating the latest Shekau’s video to verify its authenticity, and assured that the findings would be made public.
“Concerning the latest video, we are still investigating the veracity of the story. Apparently, you are going to get the facts of the matter at the end of the investigation. The findings will be made public”, he said.