By OUR REPORTERS
LAGOS – IT used to be a story heard from distant lands like Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Middle-East, United States and Europe, among others. Now, suicide bombing is here with us in Nigeria and panic-stricken citizenry, who are yet to recover from recent waves of bomb explosions, are not happy about it.
Thus, on the lips of eminent Nigerians and groups were outright condemnation for yesterday’s suicide bombing of the Police Headquarters, Abuja, which claimed two lives and destroyed 73 vehicles.
Coming at a time the country was still searching for answers to the upsurge and of bomb blasts, Nigerians, who reacted to the latest twist in the bombing harakiri urged urgent and decisive actions to address the matter. Some of them asked the Inspector-General of Police and National Security Adviser, to quit.
Indeed, the police hierarchy and its boss, Hafiz Ringim, were engrossed in a marathon meeting in Abuja, last night over the incident as fear, anxiety and confusion enveloped the nation’s capital city with business activities brought to a halt.
At the office of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, NSCDC, in Zone 5, all vehicles packed inside the premises were immediately driven out as the road leading to Ibro Hotel, which is adjacent to NSCDC office became an emergency parking lot.
Leading citizenry, who spoke on the incident yesterday include Senate President David Mark; Presidential Candidate of the Congress for Progressive Change, CPC, Maj.-Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (rtd); former Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Alhaji Abubakar Tsav; and Kwara State Governor, Alhaji Abdulfatah Ahmed.
Others include: President of Arewa Youth Consultative Forum, AYCF, Alhaji Yerima Shettima; Chairman of the National Action Council, NAC, Dr. Olapade Agoro; Co-ordinator of Patriotic Alliance of Nigeria, PAN, Maxi Okwu; legal luminaries, Mr. Yusuf Olaolu Ali (SAN) and Alhaji Muhammed Dele Belgore (SAN); Executive Director of Human Rights Monitor, Barr Festus Okoye;
Goni, Ringim, others in marathon meeting
Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Police Affairs, Alhaji Goni Aji, Inspector-General of Police, Hafiz Ringim, DIG’s and other top management team of the police were, yesterday, engrossed in a marathon meeting that lasted for hours inside the office of the IGP.
Meanwhile, the immediate past Minister of Police Affairs, Humphrey Abah, has described the explosion at the car park of the Police Force headquarters as a dangerous dimension to the activities of misguided elements in the society.
Abah wondered what anybody stood to gain with such a dastardly attack on the nation’s security organ other than embarrassing the government of the day.
Describing the attack as blight on recent achievements of the Force, Abah expressed confidence in the ability of the Police to unravel the identities and motives of those behind the evil act, saying the attack should be taken as a challenge for the Police to go all out against criminals in our midst.
The former Minister charged the public to cooperate with security agencies as a duty by providing information on activities on suspicious members of the society as the criminals live among the people and would have no hiding place if everybody took interest in the activities of his neighbour.
Bomb blasts may destroy Nigeria—Mark
Senate President David Mark expressed grave concern over incessant bomb blasts in the country, saying it was capable of destroying the nation if nothing was done to stop it.
Senator Mark, who urged security operatives to quickly arrest the situation, said: “The unabating spate of bomb blasts is a threat to the security and corporate existence of Nigeria. No nation has ever progressed or survived in the midst of terror.”
Mark kicked against the use of violence to settle grievances since there were established channels for redressing issues, pointing out that resort to unorthodox means would only aggravate the situation and create more harm.
He said: “I do not think that resort to killings or terrorism would answer our questions. The real answer lies in our ability to come together as a people and address our common problems. No one can claim monopoly of any knowledge; we can all contribute our quota positively and make our society a better place.”
Mark also urged Nigerians to collaborate with security operatives in the country to bring the situation under control and to be security alert because “those who are committing these heinous crimes do not live in the moon, they live among us.”
Buhari seeks decisive action
Speaking through his spokesman, Mr. Yinka Odumakin, the CPC leader said that “it is unfortunate that Nigeria is fast becoming a terrorist state. The episodic recurrences of bomb blasts in Nigeria are beginning to instill fears in Nigerians, which is very unhealthy for the nation.
“There must be sustained and coordinated efforts to get to the root of these dastardly acts,” he said.
Similarly, Shettima and Okwu described the spate of bomb blasts across the country as an indictment of the nation’s security forces.
Shettima feared that there might be a leakage within the security agencies, saying, “those behind these bomb blasts are working to sabotage the efforts of the Federal Government.”
According to him, the security agencies must buckle up because the spate of the bomb blasts indicate that they (security agencies) have not lived up to people’s expectations because “it is shameful and sad that such an incident occurred within the heart of the Nigeria Police Force.”
On his part, Okwu urged President Goodluck Jonathan to immediately remove the National Security Adviser. He said: “There is need for the president to reshuffle the entire security apparatus in Nigeria and bring in modern Nigerians to take charge of the situation.
“The people at the helm of affairs are used to old methods, but security system has changed. In modern security, which is ICT- friendly, security operatives must be ten steps ahead of criminals.
“The nation’s security agencies had become reactive, rather than proactive, and are losing the battle against crime. The bomb blast at the police headquarters clearly shows that the police were not alert.”
Also speaking, Agoro called for the immediate resignation of the Inspector-General of Police, Ringim. “If the battle can be taken to the den of security and won, then Ringim has no business heading the Nigeria Police Force. If I were President Jonathan, I will ask Ringim to leave immediately.”
He said the nation’s security was porous, noting that the bomb blasts showed that the security agencies were treating the issue of terrorism with kid gloves. “What would have happened if the President, for instance, was visiting the headquarters of the Police Force at that point,” he queried.
Some members of the House of Representatives, including ZakariMohammed, Tajudeen Yusuf, and Victor Ogene, decried the rising waves of bomb blasts in the country.
Mohammed described the entry of suicide bombing into police headquarters as a sign of incompetence on the part of the police and urged the security agencies to unravel the incident.
Yusuf said: “It is a shame on the part of the security operatives that their headquarters was bombed under their noses. This dastardly act cannot help us as a country as there is need for us to eschew all these negative tendencies and allow this country to move forward for good.”
Ogene, on his part, said: “It is unfortunate and people have been calling for red alert after the inauguration of May 29. Since then, no week passes without a blast. It is high time the state declared a war against whichever group is involved in this spate of bombings. The SSS and other security agencies should sit up.”
Ohanaeze calls for National Security Confab
Alarmed, the apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, said through its National Publicity Secretary, Engr. Ralph Ndigwe, that the ugly development had necessitated the convocation of a national security conference to seek ways of halting the senseless attacks on defenseless Nigerians and public property.
Ndigwe said the attack on the Force Headquarters “is a very strong signal that nobody is safe in this country because if the seat of the nation’s Police Force could be easily attacked without any resistance, then there is serious danger for the nation.
“A lot had been said about the strength of the Nigeria Police and their capacity to tackle the numerous security challenges confronting the nation. This attack has confirmed that we have a lot of problems in our hands and there is urgent need to hold a national security conference to seek ways of tackling the spate of security breaches in parts of the country,” the Ohanaeze spokesman added.
Calling on President Jonathan to urgently re-strategise and tackle the current security challenges which had become a major threat to his administration, Ndigwe said that the Ohanaeze would soon convene a meeting to discuss the security of the nation and come up with a position because “the bombings in Iran, Iraq and other parts of the Middle East started like this.”
Lagos Police command beef up security
To the prevent the dastardly incident happening in Lagos, the state command yesterday beefed up security around its environs.
Anti-bomb operatives from the Bomb Disposal Squad unit, Ikeja, were spotted at the entrance of the Lagos State Police Headquarters, the force Annex headquarters in Moloney, the Special Anti-robbery squad, Adeniji-Adele and the Special Fraud Unit, Milverton, Ikoyi, screening vehicles that were entering the premises. Even people on foot were not spared as they were thouroughly frisked.
Disused tyres and objects littering the premises were removed.
The Commissioner of Police in charge of Bomb Disposal Squad, Mr. Ambrose Aisabor, assured residents of their safety.