As bomb rock the UN House, Pembi Stephen-David, Nick Udenta, Gabriel Ewepu and Ebriku John Friday write that the Nigerian security apparatus and the Police are yet to find answers to the many questions of bomb blasts.
Nigeria have had one bomb blast too many and Abuja has become a synonym for bomb explosions. From Independence Day Bomb Blast to Mogadishu Cantonment Bomb explosion, from Police Headquarters, to UN House suicide bombing, everywhere seems to be a target of the terror. Even the book makers cannot price a market on when, where and how the next bomb will explode.
Everyone is helplessly exposed to the surge.
The last place anyone could have thought will be a target of terror attack in Abuja is certainly the UN House. Housing 26 non-governmental organizations whose staff are doing so much to safe lives and bring lasting peace to various communities, the UN House can best be described as a solution centre. But the dreaded Jama’atu wal Jihad, popularly called Boko Haram, do not share this thought. They rather see it as a threat to their existence so they strike and the whole world grief. Sometime in June, the sect’s image maker, Abu Zaid, in a telephone interview, warned Muslims to ‘stay away from security agents, government institutions and functions because they are our target of attack. ‘
With different levels of protection everywhere, the UN House, as everyone knows, is a well fortified building. The question then, is, what went wrong? The unprecedented degree and intensity of the Boko Haram movement’s energy and zeal to kill prove how weak the Nigerian security is. No one knows the real strength of the movement. Zaid, in the same interview, said’ In fact, we are yet to employ 5 percent of our military might and weaponry. ’
It was a Friday, August 26, and the time was exact 10.24 am. “Another bomb blast again! What is Abuja turning into? Screamed a passer-by. This time it is the UN House.” A dare-devil, engrossed with unimaginable depth of evil, madly drove violently, bringing down the iron-barred gate of the exist at the security post of the UN House, straight into the basement and reception of the edifice and immediately detonated the load of explosive, while many of the staff were holding departmental meetings. Behold, many lost their lives, and dozens seriously injured. Immediately, pandemonium struck.
Bomb exploded with billow smokes that reached the high heavens, the smoke dispersed in the tin air within seconds, leaving a choking breath of fear and anxiety. And the chilly breeze of the fateful day was turned into a choking steam of shouting, wailing, and crying, with an aftermath of immeasurable quantum of destruction that beats security intelligence.
Then a cleaner shivering in fear, said “I saw him, he went through this side and hit the two gates along the exit lane into the reception.” Also, another staff, who escaped from the building, said, “I have witnessed what I have always read on the pages of newspapers today, God, thank you for saving my life.” Not too long, another lady came out from the building with blood soaked in her head with the assistance of colleagues and was rushed into a Mercedes car with two other injured staff to the hospital.
By the side of the second gate is the shattered body of a security guard, who someone said, “this one cannot survive”, he laid down helplessly. The left side of his face has been ripped off and his side was pierced, leaving his intestines pouring out and it seemed he was actually taking his last breath.
Looking straight into the building’s reception is the burning car used for the suicide operation, the debris of the building, hit by the massive explosion, devastated the building, which experts believe has to be completely demolished to the foundation for a new construction.
Then the noise of ambulances and fire service van came to the rescue, men rushing up stairs with ladder to look out for the victims and those trapped in the building. Policemen arrived afterwards with their anti-bomb squad and cordoned the building, while rescue operation was ongoing. Also, military personnel arrived the scene and the whole environment became a beehive of activities. Dead bodies were removed and the injured were rushed to the nearby National Hospital Abuja. It was a pathetic situation.
At the walkway of the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of the National Hospital, relatives and friends of the victims were seen in groups recounting what happened the day before. Looking at the groups, one can still feel the sorrows and pains within this arena. There was anxiety and fear as relatives of those whom their loved ones are in critical conditions kept their ears open expecting to hear the worst while also praying that God intervenes. People were talking in low tones.
However, people like this woman, who simply introduced herself as Patience, says “Am here to console my friend whose husband is involved in this blast.” She simply gave out the man`s name as Segun. Patience says Segun is in a critical condition and plan is on the way to fly him abroad for better treatment. Segun`s wife was busy making calls asking for Segun`s passport. “Please I need to have that passport tomorrow morning. I think this people work on Sunday” She was refering to the airline operators.
According to Patience, Segun is a staff of UN, attached to UNESCO. He was at the first floor trying to exit his door when the incident occurred. “he said the thing threw him metres away from the point he was. He was however conscious enough to remember his wife`s number and gave it to rescuers who then called the wife”. After giving out the number continued Patience, “Segun lost consciousness till this morning when he was able to recognise somebody.” Patience, who just wedded a fortnight ago, lamented the situation of her friend: You can see she is pregnant and they were looking forward to celebrate their one wedding anniversary tomorrow.”
Meanwhile, while this discussion and a little bantering were going on, bodies of victims were conveyed on stretchers from one ward to the other. “This walk-way is busier this night than any other time” utters one of the nurses, who had virtually been inside the theatre all through the day. She was conveying the body of one of the victims whom his swollen head was on bandage and the whole body looked charred. At this point many of the people there were not moved because they had seen worse cases, having been there from the morning hours. Nevertheless, one can still see the sullen faces.
A gentleman said “I hope they don`t carry this attack to the airlines, I travel almost everyday.” To this statement, one said no, no there’s enough security there at the airport. Ha! Ha!! laugh the originator of the argument “my brother see o ,this one way them they say make u no carry any liquid enter plane me I de carry pass o and nobody has ever interrupted me. All they are interested is who will find then something.”
The issue of security takes centre stage at that moment. They say the CCTV being mounted in some parts of Abuja is a sham. That it is being vandalised before it started working. They say that with this bombing one will not be surprised to see the government speed up the installation process only to slow down and go to sleep much later. “Our people are not good students of history so they don’t learn from there past experience” said one of them.
At about 11 pm, it was getting cold and the groups were dispersing one after the other, giving way for emptiness along the ICU walk-way. It was not all tears and sorrow story though for the relative and friends of the victim as some young ladies and men used that opportunity to prove to one another that he or she cares as was observed at the ICU. And you can trust the sharp ones: this show of care could blossom into something so blissful and enjoyable.
Mr. Oguchukwu Bede Nwokoye, an architect expressed his grief over the deteriorating security situation in the country, especially in Abuja, the nation’s capital. “The Nigerian government is yet to show any seriousness in tackling the problem of terrorism. All they do is talk, assurance and false hope, and no action carried out, even after the bombing of the Police Headquarter in June, what has changed? Despite the assurance to arrest those behind the attacks. Up till now nothing has been done.”
“Even the CCTV cameras being installed and mounted along some parts of Abuja, is just a mere waste of public fund; will they be monitored properly from being vandalised, nor will they be adequately maintained, after six months they will be abandoned.”
Nwokoye further stated that, “There is nothing to write about investigation of crime in Nigeria as far as terrorism continues to thrive unabatedly. For the sponsors of terrorism, the government for now have not identified anybody of group, all is mere speculations.”
Mr. Otobo Emmanuel, an economist and a social commentator, made it clear that security is everybody’s business, and all should be security conscious, As well aggrieved politicians should not use their frustration to perpetrate acts of terrorism; also every security agency should step up and rise to the challenge, by adequate training on intelligence gathering and alertness. “First my condolence to the families that lost their loved ones in the bomb attack at the UN House, unfortunately is in country, Nigeria. Security means to be watchful, and not for armed uniform men alone, rather is for all Nigerians. We are to be very vigilant this time around to be alert and raise alarm when necessary.”
Emmanuel further commented on the issue. “From my understanding, I believe there was an insider behind the success of the terrorist attack at the UN House, who must have connived with the terrorist to gain entrance to the premises to carry out the dastardly act that fateful morning. One thing we should understand again is that, there are big ‘shots’ behind all these attacks, who are sponsoring the attacks on both the government and international community, including ordinary Nigerians. The president of the country has to stand up, as the number one citizen to exercise his power and bring those behind terrorist attacks in the country to book. Prior to all these attacks, some persons made some statements that the country will be ungovernable if they lose the elections, and other incisive statements. The president should be on the offensive to exercise his authority at this time, he should not be quiet. The security personnel should be well paid to avoid betrayal of national intelligence to terrorists, if not they will become passive to their duty.” He stated.
Mr. Chukwuma Ikeagwani, a financial expert, described the situation of security of lives and property as precarious and unfortunate. “Right now, the government should talk less, and swing into action. The government and development partners should collaborate to adequately train security personnel an modern trends of tackling terrorism and other related crimes. Also, a special security spy unit to investigate and expose sponsors and perpetrators of terrorism should be put in place. And aggrieved politicians should be monitored because of some incisive statements they made that could trigger violence. The government is only playing to the gallery about terrorist attacks in the country; they are only avoiding stepping on some special toes. Well, most importantly, we need divine help and protection.” Ikeagwani stated.
Mr. Godwin Etefia, a media executive expressed shock on the suicide attack on Friday at the UN House. He condemned the attack in its entirety. “The federal government must take concrete steps to curb the security challenges facing the country. It should examine its security services and see if there are saboteurs within. Generally, the problem of corruption has not allowed the police to do its job. Unfortunately, some corrupt police officers turn blind eyes to criminal activities once money is collected.” Etefia added.