By Yinka Kolawole
LAGOS – The history of recent bomb blasts in Nigeria could be traced to 1986, during the Gen. Ibrahim Babangida-led military regime, when Mr. Dele Giwa, the founding Editor-in-Chief of Newswatch magazine, was killed by a mail bomb in his home in Ikeja, Lagos, widely believed to have been state-sponsored.
Since then, series of other bombing incidents have been reported in the country, with majority of them happening under the despotic rule of the late General Sanni Abacha, who was rumoured to be behind most of the bombings and some state-sponsored killings to intimidate opponents of his regime.
There was an isolated case of accidental bombs explosion that took place at Ikeja cantonment in 2002, leading to the death of more than one thousand persons.
It was not until March 2010 that Nigeria began to witness bomb blast as an act of terrorism in the civilian era when some bombs went off in Warri during an Amnesty Dialogue organised by Vanguasrd Newspapers in support of the amnesty programme of the then President Umaru Yar’Ádua to tackle the cases of militancy in the Niger Delta region.
The cases of bomb blasts in Nigeria are as follows:
October 19, 1986: At Dele Giwa’s house in Ikeja, Lagos; May 31, 1995: Ilorin Stadium. Just before the launch of Family Support Programme; January 18, 1996: Durbar Hotel, Kaduna. Suspected bomber killed. Said to have bought a copy of Wole Soyinka’s book prior to blast; January 20, 1996: Aminu Kano Int’l Airport, Kano; April 11, 1996: Ikeja Cantonment, Lagos; April 25, 1996: Air Force Base, Ikeja; November 14, 1996: Murtala Mohammed Airport. Claimed the life of the Chief Security Officer; December 16, 1996: Bomb blast rocked Colonel Marwa’s convoy; December 18, 1996: Bus belonging to the Lagos State Task Force on Environmental Sanitation hit; January 17, 1997: Bus belonging to Nigerian Army hit; April 22, 1997: Blast in Evans Square claims 3 lives, injures several; December 13, 1997: Lt.Gen Oladipo Diya escapes death at Abuja airport; May 12, 1997: Ibadan gets its first dose in front of Federal Min. of Works and Housing at Eleyele Road, near Jericho Hospital; January 27, 2002: Bombs stored at Ikeja cantonment exploded leading to the death of over 1000 Lagosians fleeing in fear.
March 15, 2010: In Warri during an Amnesty Dialogue sponsored by Vanguard Media Limited; October 1, 2010: During Nigeria’s 50th Independence anniversary celebrations in Abuja, suspected to be sponsored by MEND, a group of Niger-Delta militants; April 8, 2011: At INEC office in Suleja, Niger State; April 26, 2011: At Maiduguri, Borno State; May 29, 2011: At an Army barracks in Bauchi and January 1, 2011: At an Abuja Army Barracks Mammy market.