Nigeria Government Uncovers Islamic State Network in Benue, Edo, Kogi
A group, Islamic State in West Africa (ISWA), is operational in North Central and South South Nigeria. It deploys foreign terrorists that unleash mayhem on communities, with a view to exacerbating ethnic and religious tensions.
This disclosure was made in a report presented to President Muhammadu Buhari.
The report was described as the result of findings by security operatives, including the Department of State Services (DSS).
A presidency source, at the weekend, said the discovery of the ISWA network followed the arrest of suspected attackers consisting of Fulani herdsmen, government-sponsored militias, militants and other miscreants in Benue State.
The source noted that many of the persons in custody spoke only the French language, unable to communicate in any of the Nigerian dialects.
This is the first time security officials have confirmed the activities of ISWA.
The source disclosed that a “good number” of the terrorists have been arrested, not only in the Benue valley, but also in towns in Edo State, specifically Akoko-Edo, Okpella and Benin, and Okene, in Kogi State.
“It is understood that the cell, which has members in different parts of the country, concentrates on recruiting young men to fight for the Islamic State in West Africa by unleashing cold-blooded murder on innocent citizens.
“There was intelligence that they planned several attacks, here, before and during Christmas and New Year. Their bombing targets included fuel depots, foreign missions, police and military establishments.
“Their network is very wide. So much was achieved by the DSS, which made a significant number of arrests in the last two months that helped preempt the attacks. This saved Nigeria from the spate of major terrorist attacks witnessed elsewhere, syndicated by ISIS worldwide,” the source said.
The source added: “We are learning more and more about this complex and sophisticated network. This is the main reason the secret service is not parading those suspects so far arrested. It has become clear to us now that the challenge facing this country is a serious one.”
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, confirmed that Buhari has been receiving “report upon report on the situation in Benue and other states”.
He, however, said he had not been briefed on any of the reports.