Nigeria government sets up panel to uncover nation bombers

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    President Goodluck Jonathan

    The presidency has raised a secret committee to investigate last Thursday’s bomb blast which rocked the Police Headquarters in Abuja, killing eight, wounding several others, and destroying 77 cars, a security source has claimed.

    The committee, which had its first sitting at the office of the National Security Adviser (NSA) at the presidential villa yesterday, will also probe all recent explosions around the country and recommend measures that could be taken to check the spate of bombings.

    The development came after the presidency ordered the Inspector General of Police, Hafiz Ringim, to call off his planned press conference on the bombing scheduled for yesterday morning.

    A police spokesperson, Olusola Amore, had said on Monday that Mr Ringim would address journalists to update Nigerians on the progress made in the investigations into the incident.

    But a few minutes to the commencement of the event, Mr Ringim was summoned to the presidential villa, first to explain what information he planned to divulge to journalists, and later to be part of a high profile meeting where the decision to set up the inter-agency investigative panel was taken.

    At the villa, the national security adviser, Owoeye Azazi, a retired General, reportedly upbraided Mr Ringim for attempting to brief the media on the incident without clearing from him and the president.

    He was ordered to suspend the briefing until he receives an order to do so from the presidency. The source said last night that top presidency officials would rehearse with Mr Ringim and guide him on what to say to the media about the incident.

    The meeting equally prevented Mr Ringim from holding a scheduled meeting with police commissioners from the federation. The meeting was billed for the Louis Edet headquarters of the Police.

    “The presidency was worried that the IGP might make reckless statements at the briefing that might embarrass the administration. He can proceed with his plan to brief once the presidency is clear about what he would say,” another source said.

    Abuja Police Bombing

    The secret committee

    The investigative committee is made up of representatives from the office of the NSA, the Nigerian Intelligence Agency (NIA), the Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA), the Directorate of Military Intelligence (DMI), the State Security Service (SSS), and the Nigeria Police.

    The sources were unable to provide the names of operatives representing each of the agencies on the committee. Mr Azazi’s office is coordinating the activities of the committee.

    Spokespersons of the security agencies were unwilling to respond to enquiries on the matter yesterday. Marilyn Ogar of the SSS declined to speak on the telephone but confirmed that she had been in a meeting at the NSA’s office all day. Yemi Ajayi, spokesman of the Police, did not respond to telephone calls and text messages.

    The committee is expected to unravel the circumstances that led to the spate of bombings in the country. Between October 1, 2010 and today, more than 10 major bomb blasts have occurred in Nigeria, mostly in the northern region and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, leaving scores of people dead or maimed.

    President Goodluck Jonathan also had a meeting with governors from the south-south region on how to sustain the fragile peace in the Niger Delta. There were only five governors at the meeting, as Governor Godswill Akpabio of Akwa Ibom State was absent. No official explanation was proffered for his absence.

    But Governors Rotimi Amaechi (Rivers), Adams Oshiomole (Edo), Timpriye Silva (Bayelsa), and Liyel Imoke (Cross River) were present at the meeting.

    Last night, the security situation topped the agenda of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum meeting held at the Rivers State House in Abuja. Rivers State governor, Rotimi Amaechi, is the chair of the forum.

    Apart from security, payment of the N18,000 minimum wage which the governors have said is impossible unless there is a change in the revenue formula, was also discussed. The governors are desirous of avoiding a nationwide strike which labour unions have threatened unless the new wage is paid by all the state governors.

    Kwara State governor, Abdulfattah Ahmed, who was at the State House to see the president, said security is paramount in the country now.

    “We had a private discussion on the Boko Haram. We know that it is not a good sign and a good omen for Nigeria.

    “What I think we should look at is the factors that led to it. We must look at factors that are leading people to be engaging in suicide bombing. I think it is going to be more in our interest to look at it from that angle. We must look at the social problems that are leading to people engaging in suicide bombing and other allied issues.

    “I think it is going to go a long way in giving us the solution. It is a very unfortunate situation, but I think it requires a lot more look from every angle,” Mr Ahmed said.