Blast: Security Agencies Trade Blame, Casualty now 75
The bigger picture of Monday’s bomb blast at a popular motor park in Nyanya, part of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) has started to emerge, as two security agencies are said to be trading blame over the incident, which left scores of innocent Nigerians dead.
This is even as the death toll in the Monday blast has increased to 75 as at Tuesday morning. A competent Police source told our Correspondent that, intelligence report on the deadly blast was available to security agencies since February this year, “on why action was not taken could not be understood,” the source said.
The source said that three other persons had died early this morning at Nyanya General Hospital following intense injuries they sustained from the blast.
“There was intelligence gathering made available to security agencies, including the DSS, Police, Military authority that arrangement has been concluded by some persons to cause mayhem in and around Abuja before Easter celebration.”
The intelligence was said to have emanated from the Department of State Service (DSS) and made available to the Defense Headquarters late February this year.
It was gathered that security agencies rather than taking the intelligence serious, opted to pull out the soldiers who used to mount road-block on the last Monday blast spot and environs.
“Any vehicle passing through that road, from AYA bus stop up to Abacha road bus stop used to undergo thorough check by soldiers on road block. Suddenly by end of March we did not see the checking again by the soldiers and then on Monday, the bomb blast occurred.”
The source said, right now two security agencies are trading blame on who ordered the withdrawal of soldiers out from the Nyanya road. “They removed even the Amoured Personnel Carrier (APC) that used to be stationed a few kilometres from the park, whoever ordered that removal must be fetched out.”
The source also stressed that the last Monday blast may not have been the handiwork of the dreaded Islamic group, Boko Haram but another misguided group that might be operating from the neighboring Nasarawa State.
A morning rush hour bombing at Nyanya area of Abuja, killed at least 71 people at a Nigerian bus station on the outskirts of the capital on Monday, raising concerns about the spread of an Islamist insurgency after the deadliest ever attack on Abuja.
President Goodluck Jonathan pointed the finger of suspicion at Boko Haram, although there was no immediate claim of responsibility from the Islamist militants who are active mainly in the northeast. As well as the dead, police said, 124 were wounded in the first attack on the federal capital in two years.
Visiting the scene, Jonathan denounced “the activities of those who are trying to move our country backwards” by staging such an attack. “We will get over it … The issue of Boko Haram is temporary,” he said, imploring Nigerians to be more vigilant in the face of suspicious characters.
Security experts suspect the explosion was inside a vehicle, said Air Commodore Charles Otegbade, director of search and rescue operations. The bus station, 8 km (5 miles) southwest of central Abuja, serves Nyanya, a poor, ethnically and religiously mixed satellite town where many residents work in the city.
“I was waiting to get on a bus when I heard a deafening explosion, then saw smoke,” said Mimi Daniels, who escaped from the blast with minor injuries to her arm. “People were running around in panic.”
Bloody remains lay strewn over the ground as security forces struggled to hold back a crowd of onlookers and fire crews hosed down a bus still holding the charred bodies of commuters.
“These are the remains of my friend,” said a man, who gave his name as John, holding up a bloodied shirt. “His travel ticket with his name on was in the shirt pocket.”
The attack underscored the vulnerability of Nigeria’s federal capital, built in the 1980s in the geographic centre of the country to replace coastal Lagos as the seat of government for what is now Africa’s biggest economy and top oil producer.
Boko Haram militants are increasingly targeting civilians they accuse of collaborating with the government or security forces. Amnesty International estimates the conflict has killed 1,500 people in the past year.
In Washington, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki condemned the bombings and said the United States stood with Nigerians as they grapple with “violent extremism.”