Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan yesterday vowed to track down perpetrators of Friday’s bomb blast at the United Nations building in Abuja, which left at least 23 dead and over 80 others injured.
The president made the vow while addressing newsmen shortly after inspecting the shattered reception area of the building.
An unidentified man allegedly drove a car laden with explosives on Friday morning into the basement of the building after crashing through two gates before detonating the explosives.
The president said, “one thing is very clear, terrorist attack on any individual or any group is a terrorist attack to the rest of the world.”
He said the attack was not just about the UN office in Nigeria but the world as a whole assuring that the Federal Government will work with the UN and all the world leaders. “Of course, many of them have contacted me between yesterday and today, the President said.”
Meanwhile, Boko Haram which earlier claimed responsibility of the attack, explained yesterday in a telephone press conference in Maiduguri why it launched the attack. Abu Kakah, who spoke on behalf of the group’s spokesperson Abu Zaid, said they consider the United States, the UN and the Nigerian government as a common enemy and as such they would continue to attack them because they are infringing on the right of the Muslims.
The police authorities said yesterday that despite the efforts of forensic experts, “it is seemingly difficult to admit how or when such clues can be used to trace the attackers.” A police source told our reporter that investigators won’t be distracted by any group claiming to have carried out the attack until the result of the inquiry is known. “Investigations may take time,” the source said.
Spokesperson of the Federal Capital Territory Police Command, Moshood Jimoh said on Sunday that no arrest has been made so far and no one group or individual was fingered to be behind the attack. “The motive of the attacker hasn’t been clear,” he said. It was learnt also that a joint investigation has commenced with all security agencies participating. The investigators will also examine how the bomber obtained knowledge of the building before the attack, the source said.
Jonathan arrived at the scene in the afternoon amid tight security. All roads leading to the building were cordoned off by a combined team of military and anti-riot policemen. He was received on arrival by the National Security Adviser, General Andrew Azazi (rtd); Information Minister, Labaran Maku; Police Affairs Minister, Caleb Olubolade; Ministers of State for Foreign Affairs, Viola Onwuliri and her Defence counterpart, Erelu Olusola Obada.
On damage to the image of Nigeria, he said, “Nigeria is not an isolated case. Many countries have suffered from terrorists attacks. Maybe it is the turn of Nigeria. But we are on top of the situation.”He condoled with the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon over the destruction.
Asked about Boko Haram which reportedly claimed responsibility, he said it is, “a local group linked with terrorist acts and we as a government are working to bring it under control.” The Federal Government had earlier ruled out any possibility of dialogue with the militant group when it empanelled a committee under Ambassador Usman Gaji Galtimari to advise it on how best to tackle the insurgency.
Also, the Nigeria UN Country Team said yesterday that nine staff of the world body had been killed during the attack. It said in a statement that the organization is still assessing the full impact of yesterday’s attack on its building. “We will continue with our efforts to ensure that the people affected are receiving medical care and support,” the statement said.
The UN House in Abuja includes 26 United Nations agencies and about 400 staff. “The UN is still assessing the human toll. Nine UN staff members are confirmed dead and many dozen are hospitalized with injuries,” it said.
This figure does not include the deaths of any non-UN staff including securitymen and visitors. The number of casualty may change as the UN continues its assessment and more information flows in from hospitals, staff and their families, the statement said.
“These deaths and injuries are a grievous blow to the UN family and our national partners. We have lost motivated, bright, selfless people who were working only for the good of Nigeria and the world. Our priority now is to ensure those who are injured and the families of those who died are cared for,” Agathe Lawson, the acting Resident Coordinator for the UN System in Nigeria, said.
“Our second and urgent priority is to ensure the UN operations continue. We will not be deterred in our mission to work to improve the lives of Nigerians. This is why we are here,” UN chief in Nigeria said.
In order to provide information staff and families, the organization to has also opened a 24-hour emergency helpline.
Is it now impossible to stop Boko Haram?
It would be recalled that in the middle of June, the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mr Hafiz Ringim, declared in Maiduguri, Borno State capital while receiving 10 Armoured Personnel Carriers (APCs) to the Nigeria Police, that the days of Boko Haram group were numbered. But less than 48 hours after, the group reportedly carried a suicide bomb attack at the force headquarters in Abuja.
This development brought to the fore the apparent inability to tame the militant group by the relevant security agencies in the country. Ringim declared also that he was in Maiduguri on the instruction of President Jonathan, to assess the security situation in the state.
He said all over the world, security was being driven by intelligence gathering, charging that members of the society should assist the security agencies in the state to get rid of the members of the sect.
“The logistics will not only enhance the operation of the Nigeria Police, but will also assist other security agencies in Borno State and Nigeria at large in our fight against the Boko Haram Islamist menace that has engulfed the state and other parts of the North for quite some time,” he said.
About 15 days later, another security chieftain, reacting to the force headquarters bombing said that the dreaded Boko Haram group members were cowards because they carry out attacks on innocent and defenseless people. This was the Chief of Army Staff Lieutenant General Azubuike Ihejirika.
The Army chief who spoke in a press briefing to mark this year’s Nigerian Army Day Celebrations (NADCEL) said the group has recently adopted the strategy of attacking innocent people just to instill fear in the public not to disclose to the security agencies their whereabouts and their mode of attacks.
“They are cowards. If they are not, why can’t they fight in the open? People should not be intimidated by the sect’s attack strategy and should give sufficient information on them to the security agencies,” he said.
Shortly after the army chief statements, the same group allegedly launched a lethal attack on the security operatives, mainly soldiers operating in Maiduguri with many of them killed and several others injured. Consequently, the soldiers went berserk, maiming innocent citizens that drew the ire of the Borno Elders Forum that sought for the withdrawal of the military from the state. With the UN bomb attack, it is still not clear whether the insurgency by Boko Haram has finally defied the strategies of Nigerian security agencies.
Attack beyond Boko Haram – Security expert
The United Nations headquarters bomb attack may not necessarily the handiwork of Boko Haram, the militant group that claimed responsibility, an expert in international terrorism and political violence, Dr Amaechi M. Nwaokolo has said. Speaking on the weekend, he said that the series of bomb attacks is beyond the capacity of Boko Haram.
“It’s obvious now that the bombing incidents are beyond the so – called Boko Haram. The corrupt practices which seem to have pervaded our governments and their agencies must be confronted if the violence must be stopped. Nigeria must not be turned into Pakistan. Government need to have data on those who comes into the country through our borders. The security agents at the borders need to be more dedicated in helping this country to fight terrorism,” he said.
He explained that “if a secured place like the UN building could be attacked like that, it means a lot of questions need to be asked about the safety of other important buildings in Abuja and other parts of the country in the face of the security challenge. It is a pity now that other foreign organizations, diplomatic missions around the UN building where the bomb exploded would begin to think seriously about their safety. Nobody will now feel secured, investors will be scared away. Nobody wants to come to a country where terrorists attacked government buildings. This will affect Nigeria’s economy, politics and its social formations.”
Nwaokolo observed that, though terrorism is not exclusive to Nigeria, but other countries have beefed up their security and intelligence network to tackle it. He regretted that Nigeria has failed to do that. He tasked the intelligence agencies to accept the responsibility of ensuring the safety of lives and properties in the country if Nigeria must be taken seriously by the rest of the world.