Security operatives in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are keeping a close tab on a former Nigerian Vice President Atiku Abubakar who has been in the Middle East country for several weeks now.
This follows a leaked security report on meetings with individuals believed to have close links to key leaders of the Islamic State’s West Africa Province (ISWAP) a group formerly known as Boko Haram which is waging a bloody insurgent warfare in Nigeria.
The leaked report seen by our correspondent referred to the meeting as “Doomsday Activate” and showed that it was strictly between the former Presidential candidate of the country’s main opposition leader, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and ISWAP facilitators.
It said: “The men who have the ears of the new ISWAP leader Abu Abdullah Idris bin Umar (a.k.a. Umar al-Barnawi) were flown in from Senegal on a private jet into the UAE last Wednesday for the meeting that began on Thursday night and ended on Friday afternoon, last week.
“This meeting was held in a hotel different from the one where the ISWAP allies were lodged.”
It was against the backdrop of the meeting that security operatives began tracking the movement of Nigeria’s former Vice President who had been in the Emirates since the February 23 Presidential election he lost to the incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari.
It is not known if the Nigerian authorities had reached out to their UAE counterparts but both countries have a number of agreements including one on tackling terrorism and illicit flow of funds signed by President Buhari and Crown Prince Zayed Al Nahyin in 2016 which the security sources say has been triggered.
A Middle East security analyst said: “Nigeria and the UAE have no fewer than 9 agreements including the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty that have boosted bilateral relations between the countries on Buhari’s watch and are been pursued with serious interest by the two sides.
“There is a good working relationship between security operatives in the two countries which has recorded a number of success stories that can’t be revealed because of the security nature of the issues and the individuals involved.”
A UAE foreign affairs spokeswoman declined comments but SITE,a website known for tracking global terror activities confirmed in an email that security operatives have indeed placed the Nigerian politician on its watchlist.
The action by the UAE security agencies also comes at a time the Nigerian army raised the alarm about efforts by some individuals and groups to escalate the security situation in the country with a view to derailing the inauguration of the President for a second term in office on May 29 2019.
The army spokesman Colonel Sagir Musa had said “These persons and groups are making concerted efforts to further induce ISWAP/Boko Haram terrorists and bandits with funds and other logistic supports.
He had added that “their body language and unguarded utterances seem to imply tacit support for the criminals. For example, credible sources have shown that some individuals are hobnobbing with Boko Haram terrorists, while others are deliberately churning falsehood against the security agencies with a view to setting the military against the people and the government”.
It would be recalled that since the 2019 general election, there had been a spike in insurgent attacks in the North East region of Africa’s most populous country where ISWAP still operates on the fringe of the Lake Chad region.