Abuja bombings: Rivalry between SSS, Police threatens probe

2010-10-14
THE PUNCH Newspaper- Adelani Adepegba

There are strong indications that rivalry between the Nigeria Police Force and the State Security Service may have informed their decision to conduct separate investigations into the October 1, 2010 twin car bombings in Abuja.

THE PUNCH learnt from a top security source in Abuja on Wednesday, that the two agencies had been carrying out their investigation without sharing information or evidence on the blasts that killed 14 persons and injured 66 others.

While the Police had arrested one person and declared two other suspects — Chima Orlu and Ben Jessey – wanted, the SSS said it had arrested nine persons.

Our source, who pleaded anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the matter, said that the police were not sure that Orlu and Jessey were not among those in the custody of the SSS.

Checks by our correspondent revealed that the masterminds of the explosions wouldn’t have succeeded if the two agencies had collaborated when intelligence report that some people were planning to bomb Abuja reached them.

A clear indication that the two agencies were not working together was the removal of seven vehicles parked in some areas in the Three arms zone, Abuja, by the SSS. The service was assisted by the military, the Federal Road Safety Commission and the Directorate of Road Traffic Services in the removal of vehicles.

The claim by the Commissioner of Police, Federal Capital Territory Command, Mr. Haruna John, that the police had installed Close Circuit Television Cameras around Eagle Square on September 30 could also not be relied upon as there was no evidence that this was done.

The Force Public Relations Officer, Mr. Emmanuel Ojukwu, had said that he was not aware that the CCTVs were installed around the area.

Findings by our correspondent on Wednesday showed that the SSS believed it should be at the forefront of the investigation because the incident undermined national security since it was meant to disrupt a national celebration attended by the President, other senior government officials and visiting heads of government.

The mandate of the SSS includes the protection of the President, the Vice- President, the President of the Senate, the speaker of the House of Representatives, state governors, other high ranking government officials, past presidents and their spouses, and visiting foreign heads of state.

However, our findings in the Police headquarters indicated that the high echelon of the Force felt that the SSS should defer to it since the blasts fell within the purview of the NPF.

It is also the thinking of the police that since it had the material resources and experienced personnel, it would better handle the investigations than the SSS.

When contacted, Ojukwu declined to comment on the Force relationship with the SSS and whether the Police were sharing intelligence with other security agencies involved in the investigations.

The SSS Assistant Director of Public Relations, Mrs. Marilyn Ogar, was also reluctant to speak on the level of collaboration between the service and the Police on the investigations.

Asked why the SSS did not work with the Police before the blast, Ogar said, “The Police cannot say they were not aware of the report, but I don’t want to blame anybody for what happened.

“What I said was that the SSS worked with the military, the FRSC and VIO to remove abandoned vehicles around Eagle Square from 2.30am to 6 am on October 1.”

 

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