To cover up their extra-judicial murder of at least seven innocent squatters at an unfinished building in the Apo District of Abuja, Nigerian security agencies are plotting to plant weapons in the building as a purported evidence that it was used for terrorist activities, multiple security sources have told PREMIUM TIMES.
Soldiers and operatives of the State Security Service had on Friday stormed the building, inhabited by homeless artisans and petty traders, and immediately began shooting at random, killing at least seven and injuring 17 others, witnesses said.
They then tried to cover up their atrocity by labelling the murdered men Boko Haram insurgents plotting an attack in Abuja. They claimed they carried out the raid to recover hidden weapons but that they were shot at shortly after they began digging up the weapons.
They are however yet to tell the world whether any of the operatives were injured or killed in the purported shootout. They are also unable so far to display the weapons they purportedly recovered from the building.
The two security agencies have come under global condemnation for the killings, and, our sources said, are now plotting fresh cover-up schemes to convince the world that the raid and the killings were done in the interest of national security.
Our sources said on Saturday night that the Army and the Department of State Security have now resolved to return to the building, plant weapons therein and then pretend to have dug out hidden weapons from there.
The weapons will then be displayed right in front of the building with journalists in attendance, our sources said.
“Our people are really embarrassed by the way the issue of this killing is turning out,” one of our sources said. “They are desperately planning a cover-up and some of us have resolved not to be part of it. They are going back to the building to plant weapons and then accuse the murdered men of having buried them there. It’s really sad but that’s what our people are planning.”
Another of our sources said the operatives that are being selected for the cover-up operation would be sworn to secrecy.
Spokesperson for the SSS, Marilyn Ogar, did not answer or return calls seeking her comments for this story.
While news of the killings and pictures of the victims spread on social media on Friday morning, the SSS released a statement saying its officials acted based on information obtained from two Boko Haram suspects, Kamal Abdullahi and Mohammed Adamu, who it claimed had earlier been arrested for terrorist activities.
“They led the security team to the uncompleted building where arms were purported to have been buried underground,” Marilyn Ogar, the SSS spokesperson said in the statement. “No sooner had the team commenced digging for the arms than they came under heavy gunfire attack by other Boko Haram elements within the area.”
But several witnesses and residents of the area have debunked the claim by the SSS. All those interviewed by PREMIUM TIMES said no one shot at the security team that stormed the building.
Unable to afford the excessively high cost of housing in Abuja, the Nigerian capital, these squatters usually gather in scores to sleep on mats in the few uncompleted buildings on the street, after returning from their daily jobs.
“The keke-napep (tricycle) men that stay in the house (where the shooting occurred) are almost 100,” Abu, a construction worker in another uncompleted building on the street, told PREMIUM TIMES. ”Apart from keke-napep, some also sell recharge cards act as phone chargers on the street.”
Witnesses told this paper that the owner of the house (or his representative), believed to be a top army officer, visited on Thursday morning and ordered the squatters to vacate.
“He gave us one week, one week to leave his house,” said one survivor, who declined to be named for fear he could be arrested or targeted by soldiers. “He threatened us saying he would bring soldiers to do anything to us if we don’t leave after one week.
“But just two days later, they came to attack us,” one of the tricycle operators who used to sleep in the house cut in in Hausa. He pleaded anonymity saying he feared he could be targeted by ‘soldiers’.
Many of the residents of the building, who escaped being killed or arrested, have already fled the area.