By KINGSLEY OMONOBI & Favour Nnabugwu

 


ABUJA — Separate attempts to bomb Police Headquarters in Abuja and Radio House, which houses Federal Government Radio stations, the Federal Ministry of Information and Communication among others were foiled, yesterday, as the two suspects who were armed with explosives were disarmed before they could wreak any havoc.

The suspect at the Force Headquarters, Abdusalaam Salihu, was said to have wired his body with some explosives and hand grenades carrying a bag alighted from a vehicle that brought him to the Total Filling Station road junction, which is very close to the Force headquarters, by 10:45am. and attempted to find his way into the police headquarters.The security gadgets, including Police bomb detector-vehicle mounted at the entrance, however, detected the body explosives and alerted the security operatives when the gadgets beeped. The 42 year-old man who hails from Kaura Namoda Village in Zamfara State, and claims to be a farmer, walked briskly past security officials manning the gate to force headquarters; he was asked to stop but he refused.

A suspected terrorist being taken away by security men shortly after he was caught with grenades and ammunition at Radio House, venue of Ministerial Platform in Abuja. Photos: Gbemiga Olamikan.

The security personnel then  pursued and wrestled him before he was overpowered and his bag was subsequently collected from him while he was arrested and taken to the intelligence unit for questioning.

On opening the bag, Policemen on guard duty found some ingredients that are useful in making Improvised Explosive Devices like broken bottles, military type metal water cans, liquid content that is yet to be ascertained by forensics, a type of very hard drug in some quantity. Also found in the bag were various Identity Cards, various Vehicle Plate numbers and some other items.

Commenting on the development, a Senior Police officer who spoke on condition of anonymity disclosed that it is too early to conclude that the man was a bomber pointing out that investigation is already on.

At the Radio House, which was to play host to three federal ministers who were scheduled to present their achievements in office in preparation for the annual May 29th “Democracy Day”, a middle-aged man who simply identified himself as John Akpavun came to the venue with high grade explosives and 38 rounds of ammunition.

The Radio House houses various Federal Government Radio stations and the Federal Ministry of Information and Communication among others.

The man who claimed to have come from Nasarawa State, was well dressed, in a shirt and pair of trousers with black shoes. He was said to have concealed all the ammunition in a black Knapsack.

The items recovered from the suspect. Photos: Gbemiga Olamikan.

When intercepted and asked by security operatives at the gate to open his bag for checking, the man said he was carrying the ammunition inside to meet his brother who is a Policeman.

As news of his arrest filtered into the hall where the on-going Ministerial Platform was taking place, all those seated quickly rushed out as the Minister of Youth Development, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi was giving account of his stewardship. He also became uncomfortable following the rowdiness that ensued. The two other ministers in the building were Labaran Maku, Information Minister and Stella Oduah, Aviation Minister.

The Chief Security Officer, CSO to the Radio House, James Akindele who spoke to journalists at the scene of the arrest advised staff of the various offices not to panic as there was adequate security for them. The man and the ammunition collected from him were later taken away in a white Anti-bomb squad van.

Contacted on the development the FCT Commissioner of Police (CP), Mr. Aderenle Shinaba confirmed the arrest of the suspected terrorist, adding that “he is in our custody, but we are not talking about it. We are investigating”.

Also speaking on phone, the Deputy Force Public Relations Officer, CSP Frank Mba, said the Police had not yet ascertained the motive behind the suspected bombers’ action.

Mba confirmed that while suspected explosives were found with the Radio House suspect, broken bottles, umbrella, sachet water and other items were only found with Salihu.

The police spokesperson promised to inform the public as investigation continues on the case.

I was involved in Bayero varsity attack,  Effiong confesses

In a related development, the Kano State police command yesterday paraded a suspected terrorist, Augustine Effiong, who confessed that he helped carry out deadly attacks on April 29 at a Church service at Bayero University Kano and admitted belonging to an Islamist militant group. The suspect was arrested on Friday for attempted murder.

According to a police statement, the 25-year-old, also known as Abubakar Garba, said he was converted to Islam by founder of the Islamist militant group.

“He confessed to have participated in a series of attacks, killing of policemen and military personnel in the state (Kano), including the recent attack and killings in Bayero University Kano (BUK),” police said.“I was involved in the attack at BUK,” he told reporters in Hausa, He further confessed to being part of a “20-man killer squad” charged with targeting the security services around Kano, I killed many people, including five soldiers at checkpoints, in Kano”, Effiong said.

US congress asks Obama to list Nigerian militants as terrorists

Meanwhile, the United State Congress is stepping up pressure on the Obama administration to formally designate the Nigerian militant group which has alleged al Qaeda links, as a “foreign terrorist organization.”

Scott Brown, a Republican senator from Massachusetts, wrote Secretary of State Hillary Clinton late last week urging her to designate the group, an Islamist sect that has been linked to 700 killings in Nigeria over the last 18 months, as a terrorist organization under U.S. law.

Then, on Sunday, U.S. Representatives Peter King and Patrick Meehan, chairmen of the House Homeland Security Committee and its counter-terrorism subcommittee, respectively, released a letter they sent to Clinton on Friday suggesting that the administration was moving too slowly on the issue.

King and Meehan cited a Reuters’ report last week about how the Justice Department earlier this year had urged the State Department to apply the “foreign terrorist” designation to the sect. The congressmen suggested that by not doing so, the department was “denying the United States intelligence and law enforcement communities the tools they need to combat an al Qaeda-affiliated terrorist organization.

“Ten years after 9/11, we cannot allow bureaucratic stovepipes and interagency turf battles to prevent us from protecting the U.S. homeland and U.S. global interests,” the congressmen complained.

The letters detail a litany of violence the sect has allegedly perpetrated in recent years, including a December 2010 bombing that killed 80 and an August 2011 bombing of the United Nations headquarters in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital, in which 23 people died.

The Justice Department’s letter to Clinton warned that the United States should not “underestimate the potential threat Boko Haram poses to U.S. interests abroad and the homeland,” noting that it has “forged links” with other militant groups which have threatened Western interests.

A senior State Department official told Reuters last week the department was obliged to undertake extensive analysis before adding organizations to the list and said the department was “not stalling or dragging our feet” on the sect.

A U.S. national security official said yesterday that although most official reporting indicated that the sect was “focused inwardly” in terms of their current attack targets, there was growing evidence that “they don’t like Kenya” and that their violent activities were growing.

 

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