By Henry Umoru
BARELY nine months after the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja was thrown into confusion, fear, mourning and bewilderment following the bomb explosions that erupted October 1, 2010 when Nigeria was marking its 50th anniversary, the nation’s capital city was on Thursday, June 16 thrown into a similar situation.
This time, it was not a public place, a school, a market or a party’s national secretariat but the sad incident took place at Louis Edet House, Police Headquarters, a place where men and women who provide security hold sway; a place where the number one police officer, the Inspector-General of Police, IGP, Hafiz Ringim presides over the affairs of the nation’s security.
In the early hours of that dark day, precisely 10.50am, Abuja which plays host to President Goodluck Jonathan, Vice President Namadi Sambo, Senate President, David Mark, Senators, Ministers, members of the House of Representatives, Ambassadors, High Commissioners, United Nations office, middle class and ordinary Nigerians, among others became a confused state as very thick smoke came from the place, with residents of the territory converging to watch and those who could not only watched from afar.
The dastardly act came barely seventy-two hours after the IGP, Hafiz Ringim had vowed to end the Boko Haram activities in Borno State and some states in the Northern part of the country while receiving 10 Armoured Personnel Carrier, APC and 10 Hilux Patrol Vehicles from the Borno State governor, Kashim Shettima in Maiduguri, the state capital. In fact, he boasted that ‘’there would be no hiding place for anyone who goes against the law of the land.”
Following the latest bomb blast, fear, anxiety and confusion enveloped the nation’s capital city as business activities were immediately brought to a halt, the fear of what would happen next and where became the issue of discourse among both private workers and public servants in Abuja.
It was gathered that the incident where the IGP Hafiz Ringim escaped death by the whiskers led to well over 13 persons being feared dead and several others sustaining serious injuries . More than 33 vehicles were burnt but the suicide bomber failed in his attempt to kill the IGP. However, he was able to detonate the bomb, killing himself and some persons in the vehicle in the process and the police claimed that only two persons died in the explosion.
Immediately afterward, there was what could be termed emergency security consciousness as roads from the National Assembly junction to Force Headquarters were blocked , making it difficult to drive from Asokoro junction to the Force Headquarters . Also, the Federal Capital Territory Administration, FCTA, the Federal Capital Development Authority, FCDA all in Area 11 to Force Headquarters were blocked.
At the office of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, NSCDC in zone 5, all the vehicles packed inside the premises were immediately brought outside as the road that leads to Ibro Hotel which is adjacent the office of NSCDC was filled up with vehicles parked outside.
Residents in the territory formed groups in their various offices and discussed the problem which was rather unfortunate, just as majority who spoke concluded that no where is safe if the police headquarters could be bombed.
Through the quick intervention of Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Fire Service, men of the Nigerian Army and the fire fighting section of the police as well as men of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), the fire was put out before it went out of hand.
Reacting, the Federal Capital Territory Administration described the act as cowardly.
Speaking after he paid a visit to the scene of the incident and also visited the Asokoro Hospital, the Permanent Secretary, FCTA, Dr. Biodun Nathaniel Olorunfemi who condemned the bomb blast, immediately ordered all the security agencies in the Federal Capital Territory to beef up security in and around Abuja.
He also directed the security agents including the FCT Command of the Nigeria Police Force, the Sector Command of the Federal Road Safety Commission as well as the FCT Directorate of Road Traffic Services to henceforth randomly stop and search any moving vehicle in and around FCT.
Olorunfemi who appealed for calm to allow the security agents carry out detailed investigation to unravel the perpetrators of this heartless and cowardly act, however assured that more facts about the unfortunate incident will be released as soon as the security agents complete their preliminary investigation.
Prior to Thursday’s bombing of the Force Headquarters, there have been reported cases of such in Zuba, FCT, Suleja, Kaduna, Bauchi and almost everyday in Borno State and where they happened were public places where everyone could have access to without any check, but questions that beg for answers now are , must the convoy of the IGP be followed by others? Where were the pick -up vans loaded with police that could not identify foreign or strange vehicles?
Where does the nation’s security lie now? Were the policemen effective if before their very eyes, they are bombed or are they only effective when they are made orderlies, aide-de-camps, security guards to political office holders like the governors, Senators, leadership of the National Assembly, wives of governors, among others?
The general question is, if bombs can be carried in whatever form to the Force Headquarters undetected, where then is safe in Nigeria?