He disclosed that the security situation deserved to be properly managed as such challenge is not to be celebrated in the media.
While answering questions from pressmen at the Aguiyi Ironsi Sports Complex, Brigade of Guards Headquarters, Asokoro, Abuja, Admiral Ibrahim said, “We are keeping close to our chest what is being done. We are the victims and what you should note is that, it pains this country especially, when some elements begin to create an environment that appears unsafe for foreigners in this country”. When confronted with question concerning the abduction of expatriates at Bauchi, he said, “We are doing something about it and in due course you will get to know of the outcome”.
The Chief of Air Staff (COAS), Air Marshal Alex Sabundu Badeh has equally reassured Nigerians that the Nigerian Air Force was ready to combat the challenges of terrorism in the country as well as the low intensity conflicts rocking some parts of the West African sub-region.
Air Marshal Badeh spoke to reporters at the weekend in Kano, shortly after a two-day working visit to the Nigerian Air Force Units in the state, where he commissioned a golf course, held Durbar with the officers, inspected the Air Force Comprehensive School in Kwa, Kano State, and visited the 349 Nigerian Air Force Hospital, Kano.
He said that the Nigerian Air Force was prepared and ready to carry out its constitutional duties at any given time, while urging Nigerians to be rest assured of their safety. In his words, “What is happening in Nigeria (terrorism) is actually new but we are up to the task. How prepared are we? We have our airplanes deployed. We have our men deployed too. Wherever there is a small problem, they tell us and we dash there with our airplanes and merge up with the army and take care of the situation” he emphasized.
In a related development, a source close to one of the security agencies revealed that the Presidency has directed that proactive measures be taken to preempt further abduction of expatriates in the country.
Not long ago, the Chief of Army Staff Azubike Ihejirika revealed, that our security agencies are aware that Nigerian insurgents are already working with their Malian counterparts.
Recently, in Abuja, the State Security Service (SSS) disclosed that it has uncovered a terror cell operated by Iranian-trained Nigerian terrorists in Lagos State. Parading the suspects, the SSS said that the three men; 50-year-old Berende, Sulaiman Saka and Saheed Adewunmi were working for Iranian terrorists planning to attack American and Israeli interests in the country. The report also said that on the hit list of the terrorists are prominent Nigerian citizens including former military President – General Ibrahim Babangida, the deposed Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Ibrahim Dasuki and others.
The chief suspect, Berende was quoted to have told reporters at the SSS Headquarters on Wednesday that he had carried out surveillance for the Iranians.
But, in a rather swift reaction to the allegation on Friday 22, February, 2013, Iran denied the allegation that it had trained militants arrested in Nigeria on charges of planning attacks on American and Israeli targets in Nigeria.
Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, Iran Deputy Foreign Minister said such allegations were "made up as the result of the ill will of the enemies of the two countries' good relations", Iranian State Television reported.
"Iran and Nigeria have friendly and close relations and despite the vast efforts of the two countries' enemies in recent years, relations and cooperation have always improved," Amir-Abdollahian said.
In 2004, Israeli sources said an Iranian diplomat was arrested on suspicion of spying on the Israeli embassy in Nigeria's capital Abuja. Tehran denied any arrest.
In 2010, authorities at the Lagos port found a hidden shipment of rockets, rifles, ammunition and other weapons from Iran, supposedly bound for Gambia. A Nigerian and an Iranian face criminal charges over the shipment.
No one claims or accepts an agent whose cover has been blown. But, as Admiral Ola Sa’ad Ibrahim warned, “the news that some countries are sponsoring terrorists against Nigeria is fact that must be treated with caution in order not to create confusion”. (Emphasis mine).
A terrorist does not actually have to explode a bomb or hijack a plane or kidnap a President in order to carry out a terrorist attack. A false bomb threat can be a terrorist attack. A sham or misleading information concerning existence of an imaginary terror cell can be a terrorist attack.
In 2002 there was a false alarm about “Five Illegal Men”. It all started on December 29, 2002, when the Federal Bureau of Intelligence (FBI) issued an alert to law enforcement agencies across the United States of America to help find five (5) Middle Eastern men who were believed to have recently entered the country illegally. The bureau posted photographs of the men and said they had come to the attention of the authorities in connection with current investigations.
The five men identified as having entered America sometimes around December 24 were Abid Noraiz Ali, 24; Iftikhar Khozmai Ali, 21; Mustafa Khan Owasi, 33; Adil Pervez, 19; and Akbar Jamal, 28. By New Year’s Eve, the FBI’s website had the photos of the five illegal men with the words in all uppercase letters, “SEEKING INFORMATION, WAR ON TERRORISM”.
On January 2, 2003, President Bush got into the act, saying that he had personally authorized the “all-points bulletin” for the five men who might have been smuggled across the Canadian border in connection with a terrorist plot. In New York City, the police increased their counterterrorist efforts as a result of the warning.
The President told Americans that, “We need to know why they have been smuggled into the country, what they’re doing in the country. And the American people need to know there’s a lot of good people working hard, whether it be on New York’s Eve or any other time, to protect the American people”.
But, the “Case of the Five Illegal Men” started to fall apart when a man in Pakistan said that one of the photos could not be of a terrorist who had illegally entered the United States, because the photo was of him, and he had the mole on his cheek to prove it.
A week afterwards, authorities concluded that the tale was a fabrication, the invention of a man arrested in Canada on charges of trafficking in stolen traveler’s cheques and running a passport counterfeiting ring. The truth was that, no such group had attempted to enter the United States of America.
It was thorough intelligence operations and examination of the polygraph of Michael John Hamdani, the man who started the hoax, an alleged immigrant smuggler in Canadian custody, that led senior FBI officials to conclude that the entire episode had been false.
Yet the damage had been done. America and Americans were put on their toes for as long as the mastery surrounding the “five men” was unsolved. Security was stretched, citizen’s fear was elevated, movements were restricted, and businesses were somehow paralyzed for the time being of the hoax.
It is in view of the foregoing that we should all take the advice of the Chief of Defence Staff, Admiral Ola Sa’ad Ibrahim seriously by treating the news that some countries are sponsoring terrorists against Nigeria with caution in order not to create confusion.