Many residents of Lagos were gripped by fear when news filtered in that troops numbering about 100 stormed a “terrorists’ hideout” run by a Chadian in Ijora-Badia, a Lagos Mainland suburb.
Ijora-Badia is heavily populated with people from various ethnic groups and nationalities.
The soldiers, who were assisted by men of the State Security Service, were believed to have been acting on a tip-off. They were said to have arrived in the area as early as 7am in search of suspects said to be members of the Boko Haram Islamist sect.
By the end of the search, two AK 47 rifles and other kinds of ammunition were recovered and eight other suspects, among them two soldiers, were also arrested.
Two of those persons were arrested at 24 Aromire Street and three others at a location in an adjacent street.
The soldiers then ransacked the building at Aromire Street where the Chadian and suspected leader of the group, Ibrahim Musa, occupies five rooms. A bomb kept in a cooler and hidden inside the ceiling of one of the rooms in Musa’s apartment was recovered by the soldiers.
The spokesperson of the 81 Division of the Nigerian Army which carried out the raid, Colonel Kingsley Umoh confirmed the raid, but declined to confirm if the suspects were Boko Haram members.
He also described the raid as “routine”, adding that it was similar to those carried out intermittently in Mushin, Agege and other parts of the state.
He said, “The raid is a routine thing and we are only being proactive and also reacting to the security situation in the country. We do not want to have an issue before we start running round in a circle,” he said.
“The Op MESA, as you know, is a joint security body and they carried out their routine raids today and made some arrests. The raids are simply a part of those that are carried out every day based on information at our disposal.
“The raids give the public confidence that we, security bodies, are working. It is the way the OP Mesa was designed and once our sources give us the tip off we swing into action. Our sources have proven to be credible.”
He also claimed not to have details about some devices said to be explosives recovered by the military, but he urged members of the public to go about their normal duties as security operatives were on top of the situation.
Lagos State Director of the State Security Service (SSS) Mr. AchuOlayialso confirmed the raid but said it was too soon to say if the suspects were Boko Haram members or not.
The SSS boss declined comments on the ammunition recovered.
“We usually carry out routine raids in that area. So, it is not really a big deal. The suspects are still being interrogated and we will disclose more details to you later,” he said.
Police spokesman Ms. Ngozi Braide, a Deputy Superintendent of Police, debunked claims that explosives were recovered.
She said that no explosives were found as speculated, adding that if explosives were recovered, the Police Anti-Bomb Squad would have been called in to detonate the devices.
She said: “The police did not carry out any raid in Ijora and we cannot hold brief for the OP MESA, but whatever it is, we have called the area and everything is said to be calm.”
A security source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said that the raid was as a result of month-old investigation.
He said, “Security agents got information a month ago that there was a terrorist hideout in the Seven-Up area of Ijora. Although we were not sure if they were Boko Haram members or not, we did not want to take any chances so we decided to go and raid the place.
“It was discovered that the place was being run by a Chadian and arms were recovered during the raid, including AK-47 riffles. Investigations are ongoing and those who are found not culpable will be released.”
One of Musa’s neighbours, who also declined being named, told this correspondent that they had never suspected that he was a member of Boko Haram.
He said, “Musa rented his apartment about three months ago. However, since he moved in with his wife, who recently had a baby and a brother, none of them had any known form of livelihood. Musa and his brother particularly were always going about with their laptops and expensive phones.
“Though he (Musa) was not working, he was usually the first to pay for anything in the house. It was when the soldiers came that we got to know what they truly are. It was in the course of beating him (Musa) that he told the soldiers where he hid the bomb and guns.”
Another resident of the area, who identified himself simply as Olu, said that when the suspects were being taken away by the soldiers, they did not know the suspects were living there.
“When soldiers were taking them away, we wondered if they were living in the neighbourhood. It was my neighbour, who told me he had seen Musa once or twice,” he said.
Olu said when the soldiers were going, they told them to be vigilant in the area, saying Boko Haram members had infiltrated the area, particularly the Hausa settlement.
When one of our correspondents met the Ojora of Ijora , Oba FataiAdeyinka, he said he was shocked that Boko Haram members had infiltrated the area.