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Nigeria: On an Explosive Projectile?

It was like a Nollywood premiere, but this time there were neither props nor digital effects. It was stark cold; Nigeria has joined nations under terrorist threats. Bola Akinbode captures the initial shock of the bomb explosion that pierced the Nigerian Police HQ in Abuja on June 16, 2011. His expression could not have been more apt:

Another close to major bomb explosion has been reported at the Louis Edet House, the Nigerian Police headquarters in the early hours of today by suicide bombers. What used to be a movie scenario or better still a news report from countries like Iraq, Gazza, Afghanistan, and other war zones is gradually becoming the order of the day in Nigeria. This is the 3rd major explosion in Abuja metropolis within the last one year with the first one on the Golden Anniversary celebrations of Nigeria’s independence and another blast was reported at one of the military barracks in the Federal Capital city of Abuja.

Who is responsible? This is no longer an issue for speculation, Boko Haram; an Islamic fundamentalist sect has assumed guilt for the first suicide bombing in the country’s history. Here goes their chant:

“We are responsible for the bomb attack on the police headquarters in Abuja which was to prove a point to all those who doubt our capability… It is unfortunate that we could not accomplish our mission because our target was the Inspector-General of Police, Hafiz Ringim,” the group said in a statement distributed anonymously in the north-eastern city of Maiduguri where the sect is believed to be based.

How the Boko Haram lone suicide bomber struck was narrated by Naijan.com:

The Nigerian Police Spokesman told reporters that the lone suicide bomber and a traffic policeman were blown to death by the explosions. He said the bomber drove and carried the bomb inside a car suspected to be a Honda Civic. He drove into the complex barely ten minutes after the Police Chief arrived. The suicide bombers car was headed for the car park where the IGP’s car was parked before it was directed to the general car park by the traffic policeman who died in the explosions.

Hafiz Ringim had only on Tuesday during a visit to Maiduguri vowed to finish off Boko Haram. Many policemen were injured in the stampede that followed the blast. The injured were taken to various hospitals. More than 30 cars were burnt beyond recognition while about 40 other vehicles were shattered by the explosions.

The devastation left hues that are certainly not palatable. The Nigeria Police Watch said that:

The Nigeria Police have confirmed that eight persons were killed while an unspecified number of persons were injured in the massive bomb blast which rocked its highly fortified but porous headquarters on Thursday morning… The police spokesperson had blamed the explosion on Boko Haram, the militant Islamic sect with aversion for western education, believed to be responsible for the spate of bombings in Maiduguri in Nigeria’s northeast.

“Definitely, we suspect those that go by the name Boko Haram who have been issuing threat upon threat,” Mr. Amore said. He added that investigation into the incident had commenced, and that forensic experts had been called in to help.

Naturally Nigerians are angry about the insecurity that has been hoisted on the land. Asked by elombah.com what he feels about the escalation of this particular crime pattern, Mr Ugwuonye said:

I am greatly disturbed by this escalation, though not surprised. Given the consistent failure over the years by the Nigerian law enforcement agencies, it was only a matter of time for Nigeria to get to this extremely alarming point in criminality. And there could be worse coming and we must all brace ourselves to a deepening and accentuated level of criminal violence in the land.

Prince Charles Dickson places the blame on the foot of the security agencies especially the police:

Can someone provide the figures for the number of bombs and explosives that have gone off in an eighteen month period, how many arrests, and convictions? What happened to the Iranian bombs saga, how far has the Charles Okah matter gone? No arrests for the Mogadishu Barracks, Jos Bombs, how about the recent ones in Suleja, Zuba and Bauchi? How safe is the Nigerian life?

Bombs are not sold off the shelves, who are those behind the high level of insecurity, the bombs game is not one played by just alamajiris or some uneducated insolent idiots.

We have a state security agency that cannot be proactive; the best is some walkie-talking-carrying-running-shielding-boy wearing bullet proof and dark glasses. The agency is run based on quota system, just like every other thing Nigeria, full of intrigues of promotion exams, state of origin, secondment and postings.

The Police is only a luxury for the rich as escorts and on the roads as toll services, apart from receiving cars and gadgets from state governors and recruiting personnel with baptism certificates, they have been overwhelmed by the situation.While the army seems to be more-like watching and saying we remain loyal, anyhow una want am.

President Jonathan Goodluck posted this on his Facebook wall with a promise that “Justice WILL be done”:

Dear countrymen and women, this is not a time for too many words, however, let me say that the unfortunate event that occurred yesterday in Abuja is a turning point. About two months ago, I addressed the nation and said “enough is enough”. I meant what I said and the Federal Government will with level headedness but urgent priority take appropriate steps to bring justice to those behind the dastardly attack. I promised an era of transformation and I will not waver in that commitment nor allow any force hamper that resolve to bring about those positive changes that the common man in Nigeria desires and has patiently waited for.

I commiserate with the families of the victims and assure them that justice will be done and that their loved ones did not die in vain. Finally, let me say that EVERYTHING that needs to be done to fish out the masterminds of the recent bombings will be done. GEJ

However not all Nigerians are optimistic with the president’s promise. In an op-ed, Chude Jideonwo sums up the cynicism and difficulty of accepting Mr Goodluck’s oratory:

We really have to ask Goodluck Jonathan what he's up to. The truth is that it is very difficult to look at our state of affairs at the moment and deliver a vote of confidence. Just take the simple matter of the youth corps members who were kidnapped. More than 10 days after, and no one seems to have a clue.

Yes, government officials will have us believe everything is being done behind the scenes – but governance is not a matter of faith; governance is not religion. It is a matter of fact. We can't just trust that this president has good intentions, and knows what he is doing. He might have a different philosophy of leadership and willingness to think differently from his predecessors; but that, unfortunately, cannot be enough.

You see, government doesn't just have to work; government has to be seen to be working. People cannot just have faith in a government; the government must earn the trust of its people. A leader cannot afford to amble on, assured in his sense of destiny; without giving the followers that same sense of confidence. It is a leader's duty to lead.

…it's time for the president to sit up. If he loses even the trust of these ones, then he will have no one but himself to blame. Because even those who love him, love their country more than they love him.

 

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