Army warns Christians on security in northeastern Nigeria
The Nigerian army operating in the north-eastern state of Borno, the active region of Boko Haram, has once more warned churches of potential Boko Haram attack during the Christmas period.
Colonel Onyema Nwachukwu said: “An assessment of recent trends of Boko Haram Insurgents Improvised Explosive
Device (IEDs) campaign indicated a deliberate targeting of places of worships as witnessed in the disheartening incident of the suicide bombings.”
The army spokesman said it would be easy for suicide bombers to get into some churches because of “the absence of measures to scrutinize and identify persons accessing these facilities.”
He added: “Most places of worship have been found to exhibit similar deficiency and have lowered their guards, thereby exposing themselves to preventable attacks.”
Nwachukwu challenged churches to be very vigilant and monitor suspicious persons around them and in their communities, as well as other public places during the yuletide season.
The Islamist Boko Haram Jihadists are likely to take advantage of any relaxed vigilance and security for a possible attack at these soft targets, he said.
Nwachukwu also pleaded with both community and religious leaders to sensitize and mobilize their people to continuously be on the alert.
Nwachukwu also warned that the Boko Haram Islamists have left several Unexploded Ordnances (UXO) and IEDs scattered in many communities in the northeast and noted that these are dangerous to unsuspecting members of the public. Though the military and the Nigeria Police Force were conducting clearance operations to sanitize the war ravaged communities in the northeast, he warned people, especially parents, to be watchful over their children.
Nwachukwu called on farmers, herders, traders and artisans travelling through communities and villages not to fiddle with any strange or unfamiliar object. “Discovery of such objects should be reported to security agencies.”
Meanwhile a Boko Haram video, possibly recorded about the same time last year, has resurfaced and is circulating the social media where Abubakar Shekau, the leader of the Jihadi sect, declared that he will certainly carry out attacks on during Christmas celebration season.
Shekau, in his characteristic rant, said, “We have not been driven out (of Sambisa forest) and human knowledge will not disclose where we are.
He chided the army accusing the military of claiming to have defeated them (Boko Haram) just to justify the money they get from the west.
“Christians, Jesus is not God and is not the Son of God. You lie… you have no relationship with our mother Maryam and you have no relationship with Isa (Jesus) he is a prophet and nothing more.”
“You want to celebrate your Christmas peacefully? The Christmas, you will see, you will not celebrate the Christmas, you will see,” Shekau said.
Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, leaders in Jos, Nigeria, have been sending WhatsApp messages to church leaders calling for extra security measures.
Hassan John is West Africa Editor, GCN and Priest of the Anglican Diocese of Jos.
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