BY LEKE ADESERI, South West Regional Editor & KINGSLEY OMONOBI
ABUJA—THE Inspector General of Police, Hafiz Ringim’s job may be on the line as President Goodluck Jonathan, yesterday, officially asked him to explain what he called ‘intelligence failure’ that made it possible for the Force Headquarters, in Abuja to be bombed.
The police boss was also asked to explain the discrepancies in his account of the events of that day and the footage the President watched.
For example Ringim was said to have told his boss that the bomber drove in to the police car park with his convoy while the footage showed a clear 15 minutes interval between the IG’s arrival and that of the bomber.
Another fundamental issue raised in the President’s query is whether the account was indeed suicide bombing as the public was made to believe.
Impeccable Presidency sources said that President Jonathan may be considering a replacement for Ringim following his inability to checkmate activities of the Islamic fundamentalists known as Boko Haram and the spate of bombings in Abuja and other northern states.
The Force Headquarters explosion was the fourth in the nation’s capital since October 1, 2010 which left in its wake several casualties. Setting the ground for the presidential displeasure was the summoning of the police boss to Aso Rock presidential villa on Tuesday. This made it impossible for Ringim to attend a security meeting scheduled with police commissioners and deputy inspectors general of police as well as a press conference to brief the nation about the bombing of the Force Headquarters.
Meeting held yesterday
Meantime, the security meeting with police commissioners and DIGs eventually held, yesterday, with a resolve to fish out those considered to be black legs particularly in the police high command.
The decision was taken with the suggestion that the Boko Haram might have penetrated the force.
Also at yesterday’s meeting, the IG described Thursday’s bombing of the Force Headquarters as a ‘big wake up call’ to the Nigeria Police Force, stressing: “We shall to rise up to the challenge.”
Addressing DIGs, AIGs and commissioners of police who had been in Abuja since Tuesday to brainstorm on the current security situation in the country, the IG described the situation that the Police found itself following the blast, as a “very critical period” for the force.
The IG’s disclosure came just as Vanguard gathered that the investigating Police team looking into the bomb blast, was told by some of the 58 suspects currently in detention, that some of Boko Haram members had infiltrated the FCT in preparation for more attacks.
Vanguard learnt that the police have begun to comb suspected hideouts to arrest the sect’s members and that over 30 suspected Boko Haram infiltrators had been nabbed from various black spots mentioned to the police during interrogation of the 58 suspects.
Justice for killing of Boko Haram leader
Also yesterday, Police sources told Vanguard that the Boko Haram sect members had reduced their demands to two, noting: “The Boko Haram sect has now said they want justice done for the killing of their leader (Yusuf Mohammed) and other leaders of the group in 2009, while in Police custody in Maiduguri; and payment of compensation for their property that was destroyed by security operatives of all the security agencies.”
The source said: “The Federal Government knows what to do if they really want the menace of Boko Haram checkmated. It is a question of directing the Borno State government to enter into dialogue with them and reach consensus on their two demands.
“They have two groups of Boko Haram now, the militant group and the group that is ready for dialogue. The group that is ready for dialogue has a lot of influence on the militant group because it is believed they provide the funding. So they will call the militant group to order if dialogue commences and agreement is reached.”
On the meeting proper, the Inspector General of Police said: “I want to use this opportunity to condole with the country and the Nigeria Police Force over the loss of our gallant officers in last week’s bomb blast in the Police headquarters premises. Particularly, I want to condole the family of late ASP Nangor Damptin who paid the supreme sacrifice in order to save us all.
First hand look at damage caused
“We invited you all here, to share with you, the experience of the last bomb blast as well as afford you the opportunity to have a first hand look at the damage caused. We invited you because of your years of experience in law enforcement. We sincerely believe you have a lot of contribution to make to our efforts at checkmating any future occurrence.
“We need to rise to the challenge of this attack and say never again. What is happening is a big wake up call. I and the management team have seen the recommendations of your brainstorming and we are going to give it the seriousness it deserves with a view to making the Nigeria police force rise to the challenge.”
Meanwhile, Vanguard gathered that more Police officers including three chief superintendents of police, CSP; four deputy superintendents of police, DSP; and six other officers said to be linked with the killing in 2009 of the leader and other members of the Boko Haram sect, amongst them, a MOPOL Squadron Commander in Maiduguri at the time have been arrested and are currently in detention.
A source told Vanguard that it was not true that the investigation into the killing of the sect leaders was swept under the carpet as investigation which sometimes takes months and years to conclude, has been on. He pointed out that with investigation now concluded, the officers will be prosecuted to show to the world that the police have nothing to hide.
Police retract ‘suicide bomb’ claim
There was drama, yesterday, over the statement by the police authorities recanting the earlier claim that last Thursday’s bomb blasts was carried out by a suicide bomber.
A statement to that effect had been prepared by the staff of the Inspector-General’s Office to be read to the press after Alhaji Hafiz Ringim’s meeting with the top brass of the force but was rejected by the police boss whom, the Boko Haram claimed was the prime target of the attack.
The statement which was neither on Police letterhead nor signed was subsequently withdrawn.
Mr. Olusola Amore, the Public Relations Officer of the Force, disowning the earlier statement, said investigations were continuing as to the actual cause of the blast.
Amore said: “Investigation into the bomb blast is on course and when there is development members of the media will be updated about the it but you should be patient and not allow your report to jeopardize it.”