Abuja bombings: More questions than answers…. as govt appears more economical with bomb plan details


LONDON: Emnnews.

The Nigerian government may have been more economical in discharging many truths about its originally known  information on the  Independence day anniversary bombing blast that killed about 12 people, a stone throw from Eagle Square, the venue of the celebration.

Reports in the aftermath of the celebration had implicated many influential Nigerians among them former Head of State, Ibrahim, Badamosi Babangida and other political heavyweights, currently seeking the Presidency.

An emerging report which appeared on a foreign based online news website  mentioned the names of many influential Nigerians as having been involved in the pre -bombing plans .

Part of the report on October 1,2010:

“The Presidency is holding the Jacob Zuma led South African Government, Leader of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), Mr Henry Okah,  former Military Dictator Ibrahim Babangida and former Vice President Atiku Abubakar   responsible for today’s deadly bombing that killed 16 persons including one State Security Service (SSS) Assistant Director and a former EFCC operative.

Two car bombs exploded a few metres from the Eagle Square on Friday morning a few minutes after the militant group, MEND issued an emailed warning to invited guests to evacuate.

A highly placed security source who opted to remain anonymous told THEWILL a few hours after the explosions that intelligence reports obtained last week from a foreign European government intelligence unit showed that a political group with alleged strong ties to Babangida and Atiku had paid the MEND leader close to $100 million dollars to truncate the 50th independence anniversary celebration of the oil rich nation in Abuja.

Acting on this intelligent, the Nigerian government contacted the South African Government for help to foil the attack. It was gathered that the SA authorities stormed the residence of Mr. Henry Okah two days ago in an early morning raid. The source said the Nigerian government was taken aback when the SA government curiously released Mr. Okah a few hours later which showed the SA government might have been a conspirator in the bombings.

“The South African Government has a hand in this act of terrorism perpetuated against innocent Nigerian souls. We gave them the intelligence we obtained from our Western ally. They acted on it and arrested Henry Okah and to our surprise he was quickly released,” the source said adding that the Nigerian government is on the verge of severing diplomatic ties with the South African government for the deadly bombings.

“Our government will cut diplomatic relations with South Africa for this wicked act. The Presidency formally contacted the South African authorities on Friday night over this.”

The source further said the aim of the bombings was to force President Goodluck Jonathan to cancel the 50th independence anniversary parade at the Eagle Square and create a feeling of insecurity hoping to eventually force the president to either resign or abandon his presidential bid for 2011.

Curiously, checks at the Eagle Square showed that all former living heads of state attended today’s anniversary ceremony except General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida. Atiku was not in attendance where as former Vice President Alex Ekweme attended the ceremony.

Those in attendance were General Yakubu Gowon, General Olusegun Obasanjo, Ex-President Shehu Shagari, General Muhammadu Buhari, Chief Ernest Shonekan and General Abdulsalam Abubakar.

Recall that General Babangida and Vice President Atiku Abubakar both declared their interest to run in the 2011 presidential election a few weeks. Both candidates have been strong proponents of zoning the presidential ticket of the PDP to the north. They have been very outspoken and often confrontational in asking the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to present a northern candidate for the 2011 presidential election basing their argument on the party’s highly contentious zoning arrangement.

The National Working Committee (NWC) and the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the party had ruled that the party would abide by its zoning principle and also ruled that it is unconstitutional to ask President Jonathan not to contest in the poll is if he wanted to.

The Northern Political Forum Leaders (NPFL) comprising former Finance Commissioner, Alhaji Adamu Ciroma; former Senate President, Dr Iyorchia Ayu; and a some politicians from the north have strongly warned the president against joining the presidential race threatening to make the country ungovernable if he runs.

A few days ago, the group issued a statement accusing the president of falsifying history by declaring openly that zoning in the PDP does not include the office of President and the Vice President.

Meanwhile, the presidency today issued a strong statement condemning the bombing while commiserating with the families of those killed and wounded in the attack.

The source said President Jonathan was infuriated by the incident and has vowed to deploy resources to unmask the identities of those who masterminded the dual attack with the aim of bringing them to justice.

“The president has vowed that those who died will not die in vain. He has instructed security forces to leave no stone unturned in the search for those responsible for the murder of innocent Nigerians,” the source said.

Attempts to reach presidential spokesman, Ima Niboro for comments were unsuccessful. Calls to both Babangida and Atiku’s campaign organisations’ spokesmen were not also responded to.

United States, United Nations condemn bomb Attacks…

Meanwhile, the United States government has also condemned the bombing. A statement from the State Department spokesman Philip Crowley said, “The United States condemns the bombings that took place this morning in Abuja marring the celebration of 50 years of independence.

“We express our condolences to the families of the victims and to the people of Nigeria on what should be a joyous occasion.

“This affirms the importance of Nigeria’s upcoming elections. And we reiterate that violence has no place in political discourse in Nigeria or anywhere else,” he wrote.

A statement issued on behalf of the UN Secretary General, Mr. Ban Ki-Moon via his spokesman, said: “The secretary-general condemns the car bombing today (Friday) near the venue of the National Day parade in (the capital) Abuja, which reportedly resulted in a number of deaths and destruction.

“The attack was particularly sad coming on the day on which Nigerians were celebrating the 50th anniversary of their nation’s independence.

“The secretary-general expresses his sincere sympathy and condolences to the government and people of Nigeria and the bereaved families,” the statement added.

However, more questioned are being asked as to the near authenticity of the above report as on Monday, the State Security Service (SSS)  detained Raymond Dokpesi, the campaign manager of former dictator Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida.

Reports indicated that the arrest had to do with the  bomb blasts that rocked Abuja, Nigeria’s capital, on Friday, October 1.

Mr. Dokpesi’s detention comes as South African authorities  charged Henry Okah, the exiled leader of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), with plotting the attacks that almost  marred Nigeria’s 50th Independence anniversary celebration.

“Dokpesi’s arrest and Okah’s arraignment did not only signify an escalation of tensions between Nigeria’s leader, Goodluck Jonathan, and Mr. Babangida, it is an indication that Nigerians are yet to be briefed about the extent of the involvement of those mentioned in the reports above” Sr had opined.

“The two events also raise questions about the nature of the information that the Jonathan administration has concerning relations between Mr. Okah and aides of the former dictator”, the online news site continued.

Last week, Mr. Jonathan had declared that MEND was not responsible for the bomb blasts, blaming them on an unnamed terrorist group.

“It seems as if the government is now implying that the blasts were a joint effort between MEND and the Babangida camp,” said a civil society activist in Abuja”, the report in SR contained.

He asked, “If President Jonathan believes that MEND did not execute the assaults, then why did his government pressure South Africa to arrest Okah?”

In the dock :Henry Okar

However, Saharareporters claimed it has learnt that the Nigerian government invoked all diplomatic and economic threats against South Africa in order to force the South African authorities to arrest Mr. Okah and charge him for terrorism offences relating to the death of more than 25 Nigerians in the October 1 explosions.

“President Jonathan threatened to nationalize MTN if the South African government failed to pick up Henry Okah,” a senior government official in Abuja reportedly told SR.

There had been  news about an early morning raid on Okah’s Johannesburg home last Wednesday, an indication that Goodluck Jonathan’s government knew what Nigerians are yet to know.

A source told us that the South African police did not find any incriminating evidence during their search.

Nigerian security officials now claim they have arrested nine people who are directly linked to Mr. Okah.

In a  press statement by the SSS, it had been alleged that Mr. Okah and several others had planned to explode car bombs in Abuja on September 29 2010, but that Nigeria’s intelligence officials had foiled the attacks by towing away two abandoned vehicles from areas near the Eagle Square venue of the Independence Day anniversary. The press release, riddled with grammatical errors, appears to have been hastily written. It does not explain how or if the security agency found any explosive devices in the towed vehicles.

The SSS merely blamed the attacks on Mr. Okah and unnamed individuals described as his sponsors.

However, a top security official told SR today that the office of the National Security Adviser claimed that they had intercepted some 400 phone calls from Mr. Okah made to several individuals including Mr. Dokpesi, the proprietor of Africa Independent Television (AIT).

Also an SSS source further disclosed that they have obtained text messages between Dokpesi and some of the suspects in their custody, some of the messages were sent to Mr. Dokpesi requesting payments and some arranging meetings between the suspects and Babangida.

Mr. Dokpesi recently accepted an offer to be Babangida’s campaign director. His detention by the SSS confirms widespread speculation that the Nigerian authorities are linking the bombing to Mr. Babangida

SSS spokeswoman Marlyn Orga
SSS spokeswoman Marlyn Orga

Statement by the State Security Service (SSS)signed by SSS spokesperson, Marilyn Ogar? :

Gentlemen of the press: The despicable act of terrorism which eventually took place on 1st Oct, 2010 was planned for Wednesday 29 September, 2010 but was foiled as soon as the information was received during the early hours of 28 Sept, 2010. The overriding objective of the group was to scare foreign visitors from attending the 50th Anniversary celebration on 1st October 2010.

Their Operational Plan

On Tuesday 28 September 2010 about 0130hrs, information was received that the three arms zone was to be bombed and 6 vehicles had already been prepared for the purpose. Consequently, the Service contacted the military, which provided three towing trucks, which were added to that of the Service and immediately joint operations commenced.

During the operations that lasted from 0215hrs to 0630hrs of the same date, a total of nine abandoned vehicles were towed away. Of these, 2 were near the SSS headquarters, 2 facing the Villa gate and the National Assembly, 2 close to the Police headquarters, one at the Eagle Square and 2 around Apo Legislative quarters – They were all towed away.

Subsequently, the FRSC and VIO were co-opted into the operations, to move around the FCT towing away abandoned vehicles. These efforts which lasted till the morning of 1st October, 2010 saw 65 abandoned vehicles removed. It is worthy of not that out of the 7 vehicles removed from the 3 arms zone, 4 are yet to be collected.

When the Plan A of the group was foiled, they resorted to the penetration of the Eagle Square in an attempt to plant explosive devices. However, the Service deployed hi-tech equipment in around the Eagle Square and jammed the detonation of any of such explosives.

On 1st Oct, 2010, the Eagle Square and its environs were effectively cordoned off and appropriate measures were put in place by the joint efforts of all security and law enforcement agencies to prevent any untoward incident. However, the rain showers of that morning provided the leeway for double-parking by motorists. In the process the perpetrators apparently gained access to park on the roadside as well.

However, the unfolding scenario has left much to be thought about as the government seems to have been economical with the truth about the bombing.

Are the unfolding drama  the result of a reliable security hints from in and outside the country  or a mere  witch- hunt meant to humiliate opposition and enemies of the president  within PDP hoodwinking them into sunmission?..,  or is it as a result of the outcome of a thoroughly put together and well coordinated  investigation by the government?…. or is it a mere sympathy seeking device meant to humiliate political rivals into oblivion…. or is the government covering up the big names in the plot in order to avoid more Boko Haram as communities loyal to the perpetrators may react violently?. There are more questions yet unanswered as we all itch for more from the security services.

Sources: The Will, SR.