Nigeria’s police have strengthened security in all boarding schools in Makurdi and surrounding areas in the country’s Benue State following alleged Boko Haram threats to kidnap students at two-all Boys secondary boarding schools, according to Frank Mba, national spokesman for the police.
The Inspector General of police Mohammed Abubaka ordered increased security after a group claiming to be Boko Haram militants wrote letters to Government College and Mount St. Gabriel College, threatening to abduct their secondary school students.
“The commissioner of police in charge of Benue State has already deployed security operatives [and] patrol vehicles to the affected schools,” said Mba. “We are equally advising communities, particularly in areas where boarding schools are located to remain alert and report any unusual movement around any of these boarding schools to the nearest security agency,” he said.
Mba however, says the current situation in Makurdi remains calm despite the abduction threats.
The threats come about a month after Boko Haram kidnapped over 200 school girls in Chibok that has so far attracted international condemnation.
Some analysts worry that the abduction of the school girls could trigger copycats who they say could replicate Boko Haram’s example to create tension and chaos. Mba says the police will thoroughly investigate any threats.
“The police have already commenced detailed investigation aimed at ascertaining the source, and the authenticity or otherwise of the hand written letter, which in fact is also in possession of police,” said Mba. “We are not unmindful of the fact that this might not be a Boko Haram element, but we are not treating anything lightly.”
“We will test all hypotheses, we will subject every side of the coin to detailed enquiry,” said Mba. “Even within the security circle, different hypotheses have come up; it could be copycat criminals, it could be just members of a criminal gang. Whatever it is …we will subject everything to forensic and empirical analysis, and that will help us in taking appropriate decisions.”
Mba says the police have increased surveillance throughout Makurdi and its environs to prevent any abduction attempt.
He says the police have asked for the cooperation of communities in Makurdi and its surrounding areas to help thwart possible threats posed by groups he says aim to destabilize the area.
Mba says the police are in touch with the local population to better provide improved security against armed groups including Boko Haram militants.
“Our advice to Nigerians is to remain eternally vigilant, and that’s the price for freedom, that’s the price for success that’s the price for our collective security. To continue to rally round the various security agencies to continue to work with the government, and the people of Nigeria and to continue to be each other’s neighbor’s keeper,” he said.
Clottey interview with Frank Mba, Nigeria Police Force spokesman