A foreign agency report on Thursday, quoting an unnamed top security official, says the government has opened a secret centre in Lagos “to hold and interrogate suspected high-level” members of the violent Islamic sect.
“The prison is in Lagos, far from the violence plaguing the country’s predominantly Muslim north, where Boko Haram carries out frequent bombings and ambushes,” the American Associated Press reports quotes the top security official as said.
The source is said to be involved in the detention centre project.
But the Federal Government on Thursday denied any move to create such a facility in Lagos.
Minister of Interior, Abba Moro, told our correspondent on telephone that the government had no such plan, adding that the counter-terror strategy of the government did not include such a facility.
He said, “To the best of my knowledge, there is no such. The prisons in Lagos are full already and we are not contemplating any movement of terror suspects to anywhere.”
The Nigerian Prisons Service also said it was not aware of any plan to move Boko Haram suspects to prisons in Lagos.
The NPS spokesman, Kayode Odeyemi, told The Punch that such a plan had not come to his knowledge.
A source in the service however said that the NPS could not disclose such a strategic plan on account of its security implications.
“It is not wise for us to reveal such strategic plan in the media because it will undermine national security. I think it is only the Federal Government that can give the right information on such a plan, if it exists,” the source said.
The AP reports quotes its source as indicating that the detention centre was created on the orders of the National Security Adviser, Gen. Owoeye Azazi.
Meanwhile, indications in Abuja on Thursday were that the Federal Government might write to caution foreign countries over the recent danger alerts issued by three foreign embassies.
One of our correspondents learnt, on Thursday, that Nigerian security officials and their counterparts in diplomatic circles would be meeting to decide an appropriate response to the US advisory issued on Tuesday indicating that Boko Haram was planning attack in the Federal Capital Territory.
A source in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs who pleaded for anonymity because he was not authorised to speak to the media, said, “This is not new, we have travelled this way before.”
The source explained that “such decisions cannot be taken without consultations. We have to consider a lot of things.
“First, we have to verify these claims (of an impending attack) to see if it is true; they sometimes prove to be false alarms. And you know, even if the Americans, for example, decide to issue such a warning to their citizens using a secure and encrypted site, it will still leak to the media because there are Americans with dual citizenship, they are Americans as much as they are Nigerians.
“There is very little you can do about such a situation except to remove the security threat.”
When contacted, spokesperson of the Ministry, Mr. Ogbole Ahemedu-Ode, declined comments.
About two weeks ago, the government similarly derided a warning by the US that Boko Haram would strike during the Easter period. On Easter Day, a suspected member of the sect exploded a bomb in Kaduna killing at least 70 people.
Azazi had in November last year dismissed such an advisory issued by three foreign missions in Abuja. He said the security alert by the United States and Canadian Embassies to their nationals against the use of three major hotels was neither strange nor new.
At a press conference which followed the November alert, the Director of Public Affairs of the State Security Service, Ms. Maryln Ogar, who spoke on behalf of the security team advised the media not to make an issue out of the travel warnings issued by the US and others.