The threat to bomb Lagos reverberated in Abuja yesterday when service chiefs briefed the Senate on the spate of insecurity in the country.
Presidential Adviser on National Assembly Matters, Senator Joy Emodi, led the service chiefs into the chamber after the public gallery was cleared. Led by the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Admiral Sa’ad Ola Ibrahim, Lt. Gen Azubuike Ihejirika (Army) Vice Admiral Ezeoba Dele (Navy), Air Marshal Alex Badeh (Air Force), and Mr. Ita Ekpeyong of the Department of State Security (DSS), they all briefed the Senate behind closed doors. The briefing took about five and a half hours.
Daily Sun gathered that the service chiefs confirmed to bewildered senators that the plan by the dreaded Boko Haram to bomb Lagos was real. A source said: “They told us that the raid last week of a Lagos suburb by security agencies was an act that nipped the act in the bud.
Members are paranoid that should Lagos be hit, being the commercial nerve centre of the country, there is not telling what the response from the South-West would be…” The Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Mohammed Dikko Abubakar, was absent at the parley.
He was initially represented by the Deputy Inspector-General of Police (Administration), Suleiman Fakai, who may have been rejected by the Senate. Already incensed that the IGP did not honour the invitation, Senate President David Mark reportedly wondered why the most immediate senior officer, the DIG (Operations) did not represent Abubakar at the briefing. Fakai told the Senators that the DIG (Operations) was at a meeting with a minister only to amend it later that he was also going to brief President Goodluck Jonathan.
Senators at the executive session told Daily Sun that this excuse may not have gone down well with Mark, who told Fakai that the Senate would not take kindly the snub with a strong reminder that as an arm of government, it would no longer tolerate the manner in which its summons are treated.
Fakai was said to have been ordered out of the chamber thereafter. One of the reasons Fakai may have been stopped from briefing the house may be because he was not equipped with any strategic paper or talking points to present before the Senate on what the police are doing to unravel the Boko Haram threat in Lagos.
It was gathered that in the schedule of appearance of service chiefs before the Senate, the IGP was listed first on the line to brief the lawmakers. Sources close to the Police Affairs Committee said the force had advance information about the Senate briefing and were advised to, at least, prepare some notes before coming to the chamber. But another version said that Fatai was allowed to brief the house after some pleas. He filed out of the chamber with the other service chiefs at 4:19pm when the session ended.
Speaking with newsmen after the session, Senate spokesman, Enyinnaya Abaribe, said the parley would be regular, adding that the chamber was satisfied with “the level of interaction with the service chiefs and their efforts in making Nigeria a safer place. “We devoted the entire plenary to an interaction with the service chiefs and other heads of security agencies in Nigeria with a view to finding out the problems and work with the different security agencies in Nigeria in order to resolve them.
“We are calling on Nigerians to cooperate with the security agencies to resolve the security issues.” Asked whether the closed-door session discussed amnesty for Boko Haram, Abaribe replied: “Any other decision is a policy decision that would be taken by the Federal Government.
The interaction is aimed at making sure that in the shortest possible time, the security issues will be resolved.” The Senate Committee on National Security and Intelligence, it was further gathered, was directed to follow up on yesterday’s briefing.