- Borno, Yobe, Adamawa impose travel ban
- Aerial surveillance ordered for FCT, others
- Jonathan sues for prayers
- Expect better Yuletide in 2015, says Buhari
As Christians celebrate Christmas today, the usual fanfare that greets the Yuletide may be missing in many states of the federation because of the prevailing insecurity situation across the country.
Following information that terrorists could be planning to launch a dastardly attach during the celebrations, two northeast Nigeria states yesterday imposed restrictions on vehicular movement beginning on Christmas Eve and lasting through the weekend, following fears of Boko Haram attacks.
The two states, Borno and Yobe, have been the hardest hit during the five-year uprising by terrorists, which has included several attacks on worship places.
The military said it had information that “Boko Haram terrorists planned to unleash mayhem on some parts of Borno and in particular the city of Maiduguri during Christmas celebrations,” according to an AFP report.
The security agencies and the state government had therefore banned “all forms of vehicle movement” in Borno from 6:00 pm (1700 GMT) Wednesday through to Sunday morning.
Emergency workers, fire fighters and journalists are excluded from the measure, the military statement said.
Maiduguri has been targeted in waves of bombings by Boko Haram, costing hundreds of lives, while some parts of Borno are currently under Boko Haram control.
Restriction in Yobe
In neighbouring Yobe, Governor Ibrahim Gaidam announced a series of less stringent measures to guard against the threat of attack.
Vehicle movement in and out of the state has been banned from Wednesday through the weekend, but people remain free to drive within their respective towns.
Gaidam said in a statement that “these measures are taken in the best interest of the State and the people.”
The Adamawa state government has also banned the use of tricycle, popularly known as Keke NAPEP during the Yuletide.
The ban, which takes effect from December 24, will last till January 4, 2015. The government also banned the use of wheelbarrows and truck pushers within the period.
Director of Public Affairs to Governor, Bala Ngilari, Mr. PP Elisha disclosed the development in a press statement made available to the media in the state yesterday stressing that, the measures were part of efforts to ensure that the state is fully secured from any security challenge during this festive period.
“The measure is taken to avoid explosion during the Yuletide”, the statement added.
Similarly, the 23rd Armoured Brigade, Nigerian Army, Yola and the Adamawa state Command of the Nigerian Police have directed the general public to adhere strictly to the ban.
In their separate statements, the Assistant Director Army Public Relations and the Police Public Relations Officer, Captain Ja’afaru Nuhu and DSP Othman Abubakar, respectively solicited for the cooperation of public by reporting any suspicions person or movement to the nearest security post.
But some operators of the Keke NAPEP interviewed by our correspondent in Yola condemned the action of the government to ban their operations.
Jonathan sues for prayers
Meanwhile, President Goodluck Jonathan yesterday called on Nigerians to remember and offer special prayers for all the country’s men, women and children who have suffered and continue to suffer untold hardship, deprivation and death at the hands of terrorists and insurgents.
Jonathan, in a Christmas message he personally signed, said, “As we celebrate Christmas, let us also remember and offer special prayers for all of our countrymen, women and children who have suffered and continue to suffer untold hardship, deprivation and death at the hands of terrorists and insurgents.
“Let us also continue to pray for our gallant soldiers and security agents, who remain at the forefront of the national effort to overcome terrorism and violent extremism, even as the rest of the nation celebrates Christmas and the coming New Year.”
He continued: “In this season of goodwill, I urge all patriotic Nigerians to rededicate themselves to doing all within their powers to support the brave men and women of our armed forces in the on-going war against terrorism, and also support the Federal Government’s efforts to provide more succour to the hapless victims of terrorist atrocities.
The President equally called for prayers for those victims of terrorism in the troubled North-east region just as he urged the people to continue to support the gallant soldiers combating the insurgents in that region.
IGP on aerial surveillance in FCT
Also yesterday, the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Suleiman Abba conducted an aerial surveillance of the Kaduna – Abuja -Lokoja highway to ensure safety of Nigerians plying the road during the Christmas celebrations.
During the surveillance, Abba reassured Nigerians of round-the-clock safety and security before, during and after the Yuletide.
While addressing newsmen at the Custom Command and Staff College, Gwagwalada, FCT shortly after completing a phase of the aerial surveillance, the police Chief said that the helicopter patrol was undertaken to complement the good efforts of Police personnel, who are strategically deployed nationwide to ensure safety and security of lives and properties.
On his part, the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd) yesterday felicitated with Christians in the country as they mark Christmas today, assuring that Nigerians would have better reasons to celebrate the festival, if he is elected in 2015.
Buhari, in his goodwill message signed by the Director of Communications, Buhari Campaign Organisation, Mr. Dele Alake, expressed displeasure over security challenges in the country and the poor state of Nigerian roads.
According to him, while many Nigerians travelling towards the eastern part would encounter the failed promises of the Second Niger Bridge, those travelling through the South-West would have to bear the gridlock on the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway.
He noted that millions of Nigerians celebrate the Christmas season in poverty and misery because “the system of production and distribution of national resources have been rigged against the vast majority of our people.”
“We promise that, by Christmas 2015, our administration would have brought out efficiency in management and allocation of public resources to make the inter-state roads smoother and easier to ride.
“Christmas is a season when we all embark on journeys to join our brothers and sisters in our native towns, to hold town hall meetings, commission community projects and exercise our cultural rights.
Buhari , who also condemned rising poverty in the country, said, “In a nation where a few individuals could raise N21bn because they want to make their friend president, millions of citizens, who truly own the resources being accumulated by a few, are left to suffer in sorrow, tears and blood.
“This year’s celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ symbolises peace, love and togetherness to mankind. It reminds, us, once again, of the exemplary life of Jesus Christ and the ordinary yet spectacular circumstances of his birth. His life enjoins all of us to follow his path by offering to sacrifice our selfish desires for the good of our country and mankind in general. This event, however, is taking place at a period of serious security challenges across the length and breadth of our dear country.
“The right to life, guaranteed by our Constitution, is under savage assault. The stories of murder in the print and electronic media make you shiver to the bones. The daredevilry of the Godless Boko Haram, which penetrated battle lines in the North-East to commit suicidal blasts in the North central capital cities of Bauchi and Gombe, demonstrates the crucial need to review the military strategy of our defence forces.”
Buhari also promised to initiate consultations with military generals across the world to devise “an alternative and effective strategy to crush this insurgency within the shortest possible time if elected president on February 14, 2015.”
He said his presidential ambition was borne out of the need to alleviate poverty and establish a system where the rule of law prevails.
“I have said that I live the life of a pensioner. I share the burden and anxiety of majority of our poor, powerless people. I have offered myself on the platform of All Progressives Congress, the party of change, because I desire to give back to a country that clothed, fed and trained me to be what I am today. Our people are poor. But our country is rich. My duty as your president will be to make the condition of living of the common man the index for the assessment of our policies, not the amount of billionaires our administration would have made.
“Certainly, there will be changes in policies. We cannot continue to enslave our country to those who tell us that we are in economic crises because of loans. Ours is the most populous black nation on earth and a potential global superpower. Our manifest destiny is to empower our people so that we can take our prominent place in the comity of nations.
“I pledge that the Christmas of year 2015 will meet us all in greater joy and happiness. It is indeed significant, the February 14, 2015, the date of the presidential election, falls on the Valentine’s Day, a day to celebrate love among mankind. I urge you all to keep sharing the love that binds us together. Let us eschew hatred and make our nation the land of justice, peace and progress.”