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Boko Haram Scare: Independence Parade Cancelled by bagauda: 11:06am On Sep 29, 2011
Boko Haram scare: Independence parade cancelled - Sect commander captured

Written by Hamza Idris (Maduguri), Abdulkadir Badsha Mukhtar & Misbahu Bashir Thursday, 29 September 2011 05:05

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The yearly Independence Day parade may not hold in Abuja this year because of security concerns, particularly the fear of the Boko Haram sect which has been blamed for string of deadly bombings in the past months, Daily Trust learnt yesterday.

A march past by military, police, para-military and school children is usually held at the Eagle Square in Abuja on October 1 every year, with the President and top government functionaries attending. Last year’s event was spoilt by two bomb blasts carried out by the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND).

Sources told Daily Trust yesterday that this year the event is not likely to hold because of the fear of possible attacks by the Boko Haram sect, which claimed responsibility for the deadly Police Headquarters and UN House bombings in Abuja as well as many other attacks in Maiduguri.

Daily Trust’s sources in the military, the police and other agencies said the usual drills ahead of the Independence Day celebrations are not taking place this year, indicating that the event may not hold this Saturday as expected.

A Presidency official also confirmed to Daily Trust that the parade will not hold because of security concerns.

In a public notice published yesterday, Interior Minister Abba Moro listed the programmes that the Federal Government approved for the 51st Independence Anniversary celebrations, but the Eagle Square parade was not mentioned.

The programmes scheduled to hold were public lecture on Tuesday, visit to orphanages by First lady Patience Jonathan yesterday, Juma’at Prayer tomorrow and National Day Broadcast by the President as well as Ceremonial Change of Guards Parade at the Presidential Villa on Saturday.

Spokesman for the Interior ministry Theodore Jackson did not answer calls made to him yesterday to seek explanation on why the parade was not listed. His deputy Muhammad Abdullahi Ahmed said he was not in a position to comment on this matter.

Asked what the police was doing regarding the march past, spokesman for the Force Mr. Olusola Amore said the Army was in charge of organising the Independence Day parade and so enquiries should be directed to them. He said he could not ascertain whether or not the police and other agencies were invited to partake in this year’s exercise.

A military source said discussions were still going on as to how to go about holding the Independence celebrations but did not say specifically if the Eagle Square event would hold or not.

For his part, spokesman for the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) Mr. Okeh Emmanuel said the corps was yet to receive any instructions regarding the parade.

Meanwhile, security forces have arrested a top commander of the Boko Haram sect who is accused of orchestrating attacks in Maiduguri, Governor Kashim Shettima of Borno State told the Associated Press news agency yesterday.

Shettima did not name the arrested commander. But a top security officer who pleaded for anonymity because he was not authorized to speak identified the man as Saleh Ladan, arrested on September 22, and found to be responsible for coordinating some of the activities of the sect, including planting of bombs.

“Ladan is a middle cadre officer of the sect. Investigations have shown that he is someone to reckon with in the group,” the source said.

Shettima also told the Associated Press that five other sect members were arrested and were being detained. “I believe the worst is over,” he added.

The Joint Task Force (JTF) tagged Operation Restore Order confirmed to Daily Trust yesterday that they arrested some suspected members of sect but declined to give details.

When contacted to give more details on the identity of the commander the governor said was arrested, JTF chief Colonel Victor Ebhaleme said, “There is no need for us to tell you the details of who and who we have arrested. What is the essence of telling you the identities of those we caught when we are still looking for others? You, the media should have a way of reporting our achievements, not interrogating us which we believe is of no essence.”

Governor Shettima’s spokesman Usman Chiroma said he did not have the details of the statements made by the governor.



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