The terrorist groups Boko Haram and its splinter group, Jama’atu Ansarul Muslimina Fi Biladis-Sudan (Ansaru, for short) has commenced a recruitment drive in the South-West with the view of establishing cells preparatory to launching attacks in the zone.
The idea is hinged on identifying fundamentalists in the zone who will then coordinate attacks in the zone.
According to a top security source, South-West, especially Lagos is attractive to the terror groups because of the economic importance of the zone, and an attack there would affect the nation’s economy. They are also hoping attacks there would instigate ethnic clashes.
Other major cities pencilled down for attacks are Ibadan, Abeokuta and Osogbo.
The groups had previously found it difficult to penetrate the zone. Presently, it was targeting Northerners living in the zone as potential members as well as people from the zone. According to the security source, the groups were hoping that by targeting people from the zone, cells would be set up easier in the zone.
“There is no doubt terror groups have their eyes on the South-West. Their plan is to spread their activities to the zone, which has a high Muslim population.
“People they are planning to recruit include Northerners living in the South-West as well as Yoruba that have the same religious belief with them. It is part of their plan to spread Jihad to Africa,” the source said.
On Thursday, a source within the State Security Service had informed this correspondent that the intelligence agency was aware of the efforts of the terror groups to infiltrate the South-West.
The source said that the SSS and its sister agencies had long anticipated the high possibility of the attacks extending beyond the North, evidenced by the recent smashing of an Iranian-sponsored terror cell.
But another security source said there was a growing discomfort among security personnel that the arrangement put in place by the police authorities madepenetrating other parts of the country easier for the terror groups.
They felt that the collapse of road blocks across the country in this era of terror was a security miscalculation as the decision would encourage the movement of arms and ammunition and other weapons from one part of the country to the other.
The security source stated that those behind the acts of terror could have easily taken advantage of the loose security situation in the South-West to launch similar attacks in the zone from the Sabo settlements being inhabited chiefly by northern Muslims.
Top police personalities confirmed that police authorities were aware of the plot.
However, the Force Deputy Force Public Relations Officer, Frank Mba, was evasive as he refused to comment on what he described as a sensitive security issue.
Security experts opine that these attacks by the groups are part of measures to protest Nigeria’s intervention in the Malian crisis.
Ansaru had on January 19, 2013 claimed responsibility for an attack on Malian-bound Nigerian soldiers near Okene, Kogi State.
In the statement they issued, the leader, Uba Usamatal Ansary warned Nigerians and other Africans to be ready for ‘more difficulties’ as they embarked on the mission to restore peace to Mali.
The statement had read, “We, members of Jama’atu Ansarul Muslimina Fi Biladis-Sudan, are gladly informing the general public, especially those in black Africa, that with the aid and guidance of Allah, we, on January 19, 2013 at Itape, Ekehi Local Government Area of Kogi State, successfully executed our first attempt in attacking the Nigerian troops that were aiming to demolish the Islamic Empire of Mali.
“We are equipped and waiting for any slightest attempt of Nigerian Army moving towards the Islamic Empire of Mali. And we are warning African countries to stop helping Western countries in fighting against Islam and Muslims; if not, we are sternly assuring them, particularly the Nigerian government, to be prepared and be ready to face difficulties from JAMBS anywhere and anytime. May Allah help us and grant our wishes.”