Lagos churches, mosques to screen worshipers

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Churches and mosques in Lagos State are soon to start screening worshippers, especially on busy days such as Sundays and Fridays. The need to the screening, as part of measures to prevent terror attacks in the wake of the arrest of some Boko Haram members in Lagos, emerged at a meeting yesterday in Lagos between the state government and religious leaders. The meeting came on a day the military announced that Nigerian Air Force (NAF) had carried out air strikes on the Sambisa Forest, destroying Boko Haram’s vehicle workshops, fuel and ammunition dumps.

At the Lagos meeting, Home Affairs Commissioner, Dr. AbdulHakeem AbdulLateef, urged religious leaders to screen worshipers and employ more personnel to beef up security in their various worship centres. AbdulLateef, who urged residents to remain calm but vigilant, appealed to the religious leaders to preach tolerance, love and unity at all times, saying that clerics have great role to play in ensuring peaceful coexistence in the state. He called for cooperation to sustain the harmony in the state. He said:

“We would advise churches, mosques, all the places of worship in Lagos State to buy metal detectors, and to employ more security personnel to ensure extremists, terrorists do not have their way because they know how to target soft spots.” AbdulLateef added that the state government is doing everything possible to ensure the security of lives and property, adding that religious leaders must also play their roles by being vigilant and preaching security consciousness. : “The situation of insurgency in this country is worrisome. For the religious leaders, institutions and organisations, we must be vigilant. Vigilance is the key word now.

“This ministry is going to come up with a lot of policies, part of which is improving our relationship with religious organisations and institutions, creating the data base for all religious institutions in Lagos State, enumerating the churches and mosques. Let us know how many do we have, where they are? “We are partnering the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) on the standard expected of a church. We are also partnering with the Muslim Council on the standard expected of a mosque, regulating activities of religious institutions so as to safeguard the welfare of people who come to worship and not endanger it,” he added. The commissioner stressed the need for government to quickly intervene in activities of the religious centres so as to ensure the safety of all the residents in the state.

Also yesterday, the air force said it destroyed Boko Haram’s vehicle workshops, fuel and ammunition dumps during attacks on Sambisa Forest. NAF said it deployed its Alpha Jets for the latest operation, after undertaking a discreet Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR).

A statement by NAF’s spokesman, Air Commodore Dele Alonge, said the ISR was as a result of efforts by the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) and ATR-42 platforms. The statement quoted the Chief of Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, as saying that the development has further degraded the capacity of Boko Haram, thereby paving the way for the sect’s final defeat. “In a renewed drive to further degrade the Boko Haram Terrorist (BHT) assets, the NAF Alpha Jets have successfully carried out airstrikes and destroyed the sect’s vehicle workshops, fuel and ammunition dumps all within the Sambisa forest. “This feat by the Nigerian Air Force came as a result of a painstaking Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) efforts by the NAF’s Unmanned Aerial vehicle (UAV) and ATR-42 platforms.

“In view of the above, the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, wishes to assure all Nigerians that with these successful strikes on the insurgents, their capabilities have been further degraded to pave the way for the final onslaught by the land forces to meet the Commander-in-Chief, President Muhammadu Buhari’s directive to bring insurgency in the North- East to an end,” the statement said.

The military is under intense pressure to crush Boko Haram by the end of December, in fulfilment of Buhari’s directive This is as the terrorists have scaled-up suicide bomb attacks on soft targets in recent times, with attendant deaths, injuries and destruction of property.

Meanwhile, the Federal Government has commenced moves to evolve a new communication strategy aimed at tackling the ideological roots and negative narratives of the Boko Haram terrorists and other insurgent groups in the country. The strategy, known as the National Strategy for Strategic Communications (NSSC), is similar to the soft-approach programme of the previous administration and will regulate government communication across the Ministries, Department and Agencies (MDAs) and reinforce their core-values towards de-radicalisation of terrorists. National Security Adviser (NSA), Maj.-Gen. Babagana Mongonu (rtd) gave this indication at a workshop on ‘Counter Violent Extremism (CVE)-Media Round Table’ in Abuja.

Monguno, represented by a Deputy Director in his office, Ahmad Gusau, said the NSSC was a policy document put together by the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) with the technical support of the European Union. Mongonu added that a validation workshop on the draft NSCC was held in June 2015 and the contributions of the various departments of government and other stakeholders were being integrated before the document would be approved and unveiled. According to him, the draft NSSC has as one of its six focal areas, the relationship between government and the media.

He said the media round table was meant to draw the attention of journalists to current trends in the use of media by terrorists and violent extremist groups, including the ISIS, which has since established links with Boko Haram. Monguno said both groups had been exploiting the media to radicalise, propagate their agenda in order to recruit new converts. He, however, added that the media has since recognised that the insurgents were enemies of the Nigerian state whose violent activities have a negative impact on the collective psyche and wellbeing of the populace.

Culled from: http://newtelegraphonline.com/lagos-churches-mosques-to-screen-worshipers/

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