Reports have emerged that the Boko Haram Islamist sect had hatched a plot to shoot down the plane of President Goodluck Jonathan during his two-day visit to Borno and Yobe States, the hotbed of terrorist activity.
Intelligence sources said that it took the vigilance of security agencies to avert what would have otherwise been a national tragedy.
The discovery of three anti-aircraft guns, two technical vehicles mounted with anti-aircraft stands and 10 rocket propelled grenades, in a cache of arms, in Maiduguri, on Friday, lent credence to the claim of the plot to attack the president’s plane.
In addition to the anti-aircraft guns and rocket propelled grenades, the massive arms the Joint Task Force (JTF) in Maiduguri, the day the president left the state capital after the visit, include 17 AK rifles, general purpose machine guns, three G3 rifles, 20 RPG bombs, 12 RPG chargers, 1 x 36 ,hand held grenades, one tear gas rifle, 33 AK 47 magazines, 11 FN magazines, three G 3 magazines and 11,068 assorted ammunitions.
In a twist to the story, intelligence sources are also of the belief that the Islamist sect had hoped that the entire security apparatus in Borno would be diverted for the President’s visit, which would give them the opportunity to deploy its massive arsenal to attack facilities where its members are held and free them.
The spokesman for the Joint Task Force in Borno State, Lt. Col. Sagir Musa, in a statement emailed to journalists, yesterday, hinted that intelligence by informants led to the foiling of the insurgents alleged plan.
The statement listed the cache of arms recovered during the Friday operation while saying it was one of the JTF’s operations to combat insurgents in the last ten days. The statement reads:
“Based on information and intelligence report, series of operations were conducted by the Joint Task Force Operation RESTORE ORDER in the last ten days in Borno State.
“The latest was the one conducted at Bulabulin, Bayern Quarters and Jajeri in Maiduguri metropolis between 3 – 8 pm yesterday Friday, 8 February, 2013. During these operations under the period stated, there were exchange of fire that led to the death of 52 Boko Haram members including ten commanders of the sect. 70 terrorists were also arrested. In the period under review, the JTF lost two men, three were wounded and no civilian casualty was recorded. The under listed weapons, ammunition, uniforms and other items were recovered in yesterday’s (Friday) operation:
“3 anti-aircraft guns; 10 rocket propelled grenade tubes; 3 general purpose machine guns; 17 AK47 rifles; 3 G3 rifles; 1 pistol (lama);20 RPG bombs; 12 RPG chargers; 1x 36 hand held grenade; 1 teargas rifle; 33 AK 47 magazines; 11 FN magazines; 3 G3 magazines; 11,068 assorted ammunitions;2 technical vehicles with mounted anti-aircraft stands; 1 box of weapons cleaning kit; 4 swords and two knifes; 5 walking talkies; 4 VHF hand held sets; 1 multi links router; and assorted uniforms and kits.
“The task force wishes to thank members of the public particularly our moles in the Boko Haram’s camp for giving us the information that assisted in the successes so far recorded. Thus, members of the public are reminded to continue to give credible and timely information to security agencies to combat insecurity.”
It was also learnt, yesterday, that security agencies have launched investigations into how the weaponry which, in size, quality and quantity, were capable of waging a full scale war either against air or land opposition and with which targets kilometers away could be successfully taken out, were assembled.
“The fact that assorted uniforms of security agencies, especially those serving in the Joint Task Force were recovered in the Friday operation, is fueling the intelligence that there was indeed a plan by the group and their sponsors to breach the security of the president”, a source added.