- Service chiefs put on red alert
AS the nation lament the gruesome bomb blast that rocked the United Nations building in Abuja on Friday last week, Security staff at the Presidential Villa, Asokoro including President Goodluck Jonathan’s personal security details may have been overhauled to avert any untoward danger to the seat of government and the president’s personal security.
President Jonathan last year escaped unhurt in a bomb blast that exploded within the location of Eagles Square, Abuja, during the celebration of the nation’s 50th Independence anniversary.
There were conflicting reports on the identity of the real culprits that masterminded the bomb blast which reportedly killed about twelve persons and wounded several others. While Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta (MEND) claimed responsibility for the blast, the Presidency blamed political opponents for allegedly funding terrorism in the country.
The terrorists in a defiant statement of alert boasted that Aso Rock was next on its target list of important National institution.
National Daily competent sources disclosed that the presidency was rattled by the most recent blast which claimed about 20 lives with 60 others seriously injured. The blast badly damaged the four storey UN building housing various offices and departments of the world organization.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“As soon as information in the bomb blast reached the National Security Adviser, Andrew Azazi, he promptly contacted the Inspector-General of Police, Hafis Ringim, to furnish him with the preliminary report on the incident. Later on that day the NSA summoned a meeting of the security chiefs, including the Heads of the State Security Service (SSS), National Intelligent Agency and the IGP for an emergency security meeting,Ã¢â‚¬Â one of our sources said, adding: Ã¢â‚¬Å“It is difficult to relay details of their discussion, but my own sources in the office of the Inspector-General told me that the NSA conveyed Jonathan’s disgust with the loose security system in the country and also he (the NSA) talked about the political and economic implication of the bomb blast at the building. My source said the top security meeting also discussed the international implication of the incident and its affect on the nation’s image.Ã¢â‚¬Â
It was learned that after this enlarged meeting of the nation’s security apparatus, the NSA met with security staff at the presidency to caution them to guide against security breaches in protocol and movement around the Presidential Villa. He hinted that some of the security details in strategic locations in the presidency may be re-assigned as well as President Jonathan’s security details.
Sources further disclosed that there may be a drastic change in President Jonathan’s official itinerary and the need to reduce the number of his civilian entourage and increase the Intelligence staff accompanying him to an event.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Henceforth, there will be thorough screening of individuals at any event to be attended by the president. Before the president’s arrival at such venue, members of the Anti-bomb Squad with sophisticated equipment will be the initial advance team to the venue. This is not the time to take chances because if the terrorists can bomb a whole Uniteds Nations building, no one is safe anywhere.Ã¢â‚¬Â Our source said.
Insider as mole
National Daily learned that the NSA was persuaded by a strong suspicion about the presence of some security staff sympathetic to the fundamentalist Boko Haram group to consider an immediate overhaul in the presidency. The UN building is the second high profile institution that has been targeted by terrorists for bombing in recent times. This situation sources said, is causing serious concern to the nation’s top security hierarchy as they fear that the bombing may escalate to certain political institutions, Presidential Villa inclusive.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“There will be more security vigilance around the precincts of Aso Rock, a thorough scrutinisation of passerby and vehicles driving across the location of Aso Rock. The President has given approval for the purchase of the most sophisticated surveillance equipments to replace some of the obsolete ones stationed around the Presidential Villa,Ã¢â‚¬Â our source said.
President Goodluck Jonathan was said to be saddened over the bomb blast. He was so worried about the number of deaths and injured that he wanted to visit the survivors in the hospital but was advised not to act on impulse in other not to give the terrorists an impression that he is scared. Such visit should be made not immediately after the blast but at least few days after.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“It was the president who actually instructed the NSA to summon the Service Chiefs for emergency security meeting. He also may have given approval to the NSA to effect changes in the security system and staff in the presidency.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Jonathan’s political opponents issued a damning threat before the 2011 presidential elections vowing to make the nation ungovernable for him and the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP). The presidential candidate of one of the opposition political parties who is from the North-West geo-political zone was quoted as having said that his supporters will cause mayhem in the country if he is not declared winner at the polls. The controversial political leader is known for his fundamentalist views on religious matters.
Nigerians have been sleeping with one eye open since the reign of bomb blast in some state capitals, Kano, Kaduna, Maiduguri, Jos, Jigawa and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja where the Police Headquarters was rattled by the rampaging bombers. In each of these instances of bomb blast, the dreaded Boko Haram group claimed responsibility for the attack and did promise to unleash more bloodshed in the land.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“The latest bombing of the UN building may not be the worst act of violence to be perpetrated by Boko Haram. The worst is yet to come,Ã¢â‚¬Â said one commentator on national issues, who pleaded anonymity.
National Daily sources said that over 400 people work at the UN building which houses over 26 humanitarian bodies and agencies. It was gathered that a suspected suicide bomber rammed his Honda SUV laced with explosives into the building resulting in the blast.
Meanwhile a spokesman of the militant Islamic group, Boko Haram claimed responsibility for the dastardly attack which now suggests that western countries are now targets of attacks. Ã¢â‚¬Å“More attacks are on the way, and by the will of Allah we will have unfettered access to wherever we want to attack,Ã¢â‚¬Â the spokesman Abu Darda said, adding, Ã¢â‚¬Å“we have more than 100 men who are willing to lay down their lives for the cause of Allah.Ã¢â‚¬Â
The alleged bomber was said to have resisted all attempts by Kings Guard security officials, on duty at the premises, to prevent him from entering the building. It was learned that the suspected bomber forced his way into the ground floor of the building where the reception is located; the blast occurred a few seconds after the man drove directly into the ground floor.
Sources said that there was a loud bang which threw the entire building into confusion as several persons including top diplomats, and visitors around ran helter-skelter for their dear lives.
Reacting to the attack at a media briefing held at the UN Headquarters in New York, UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon said he had dispatched two top officials of the global body to Nigerians to meet with government over the bomb attack.
Ki-Moon who read a statement said he had asked the Deputy UN Secretary-General, Ms. Asha-Rose Migiro and UN Security Chief, under Secretary-General Gregory Starrto, to go to Nigeria immediately to meet with Nigerian authorities.
United States President Barack Obama condemned the bomb explosion that occurred on Friday morning at the United Nations building in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital, describing it as Ã¢â‚¬Å“horrific and cowardly act.Ã¢â‚¬Â
The United Kingdom Foreign Secretary, William Hague expressed shock at the attack condemning the brutal act which has killed and injured many innocent people. Hague said the UK was ready to assist Nigeria fish out the perpetrators of the heinous act.
Chairman of the Governors Forum and Rivers State Governor, Rotimi Amaechi, said in his reactions that it was disheartening, senseless and inhuman for anyone to bomb a complex where work and effort to make the world better are constantly going on.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“The idea of any group unleashing violence on fellow human beings because of certain imperfections does not augur well, not only for the wellbeing of the immediate location and victims but for the entire nation,Ã¢â‚¬Â NGF chairman said.
Amaechi argued that the violence cannot be defended by its perpetrators whatever their grievance might be, insisting that violence is not a reasonable way to attract attention to grievances.
Describing the explosion as an attack on Nigeria and the global community, the NGF urged the security agencies to do everything possible to track down this seemingly organized network of wicked criminals and bring them to book.
Governor Amaechi also condoles with families of the victims of the blast and prayed God to give them the fortitude to bear the loss.
The NGF chair appealed to all aggrieved individuals and groups in Nigeria to appreciate the fact that violence can never be a solution to any problem.
By SULEIMAN ABUBAKAR