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Years Of Ignoring Bombs

TUESDAY’s bombing of a television office in Lagos has shown again that the police always knows more than it is willing to disclose. The headlines were about a bomb blast, but the police put a pause to that.

Was it really a bomb? Was it a blast? Was there any intention to harm the public? Why was nobody killed? Why should anyone panic about a blast that nobody is sure if it is a bomb? The bomb disposal unit is supposed to determine these.

Lagos police spokesman Frank Mba has become an expert in befuddlement. He, it was, who said suggestions that The Guardian’s Bayo Ohu could have been murdered could impair police investigation. In the same breath he suspected it could be a simple case of armed robbery. Yet the robbers took only his laptop.

When Dele Giwa was killed 23 years ago, debates centred more on whether it was the government that killed him than in finding the killers. Former Lagos State Commissioner of Police Abubakar Tsav claimed his investigations were called off.

Murder of journalists, or attacks aimed at media houses could gain more prominence but the truth is that bombs, some as a result of the war and undermined de-mining efforts and others are becoming regular fares.

Does anyone remember the Ikeja Cantonment bomb blast that sent thousands to death in a canal kilometers away? Others have died from blasts in the same cantonment years after.

The point is missed until Lagos, or parts thereof are hit. Bomb blasts that took down a building in Port Harcourt in 1992 meant nothing to anyone.

Bayelsa State secretariat of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, has been bombed twice in four years over disagreements on state congress elections of the party. The police does not consider finding the culprits important.

On 18 August 1998, Assistant Commissioner of Police, Alhaji Zakari Biu who also heads the Task Force on Terrorist Activities at a press conference, in lagos, alleged that Bagauda Kaltho, senior Kaduna State correspondent of The News magazine, arrested in 1996 by security agents died in a bomb blast at the Durbar Hotel, Kaduna.

ACP Biu alleged Bagauda Kaltho was the “unidentified” person who allegedly planted a bomb at Durbar Hotel on 18 January 1996 and was killed in the process.

The allegations against the killed journalist and his organisation made the magazine to call for an official inquiry into Kaltho’s death. The government did not heed this call, just as it ignored similar demands on Dele Giwa.

Maybe since the latest blast (or whatever the police may call it) occurred under civilian rule, there are high expectations that it would be definitely resolved.

However the dismissive manner with which the police and government handle security diminishes government and hurts the public.

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