Some 45 Boko Haram suspects have been charged over a foiled attack in the commercial capital of Lagos, Nigeria. The news came weeks after the country's intelligence pushed for increased security in Lagos as the terrorist group, which fights to establish a caliphate throughout the occupied territories, had plotted to carry out attacks on ports around the city.
About 60 suspects were initially arrested by the Department of State Services (DSS) in relation to a planned attack at the luxury Dolphin Estate in Ikoyi, Lagos, in September. Sources who spoke under condition of anonymity told AFP some suspects were released after preliminary investigations. The remaining 45 were brought to a magistrate's court on 23 October.
Lagos State Information Commissioner Steve Ayorinde called for the help of the public in Lagos to ensure the safety of citizens. He was quoted as saying: "Our appeal goes to every school, housing estates, religious houses, markets and shopping complexes, hotels and restaurants and sporting arenas to take issues of security and personal safety more seriously these days and to work with both the government and security agencies in promptly reporting any persons with suspicious activities or unusual gatherings that may compromise security. Care must also be taken in how domestic servants and house aides are also employed."
Who are Nigeria's Boko Haram terrorists?
Boko Haram (recently renamed Iswap) fights against Western influence in Nigeria and aims to impose its version of Sharia law on the country. The group declared an Islamic caliphate in Gwoza, along the Cameroon border, in August 2014.
Boko Haram has raided several cities in the north of the country in a bid to take control of more land.
Three states − Adamawa, Borno and Yobe − have been under a state of emergency since May 2013, due to Boko Haram's attacks.
The group has killed at least 2,600 people since the beginning of 2015. More than 180 have been killed since the beginning of June.
However, the insurgents also claimed responsibility for an attack that killed at least 18 people in the federal capital of Abuja earlier in October. In an exclusive interview with IBTimes UK, David Otto, CEO of UK-based global security provider TGS Intelligence Consultants, warned the Abuja attack suggested the group's insurgency could move beyond the country's north.
Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari vowed his administration would end terror in the region. A Nigeria-led new task force against the group – consisting of 8,700 troops from Nigeria, Niger, Chad, Cameroon and Benin – is ready to take over in the ongoing regional fight against the terrorists.
The Nigerian government alleged the terrorists are surrendering but the group said in an audio message that claims made by the government and army are false. The person heard speaking in the audio is believed to be Boko Haram's leader, Abubakar Shekau, who is rumoured to have been replaced due to his repeated absence from the group's videos.