FBI takes over investigations, sidelines Police, SSS

2011-08-29
THE PUNCH Newspaper

OPERATIVES of the United States’ domestic intelligence agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, have taken over the investigations of Friday’s bombing of the UN building in Abuja.



Sources told THE PUNCH that the FBI agents probing the bombing had sidelined investigators from the Nigeria Police and the State Security Service.



A source in one of the security agencies, who requested anonymity, said the takeover had the support of the Federal Government. The source added that the government might have lost confidence in the Police, SSS and other security agencies for their alleged failure to halt the bombings in the country.



At least 18 people died in the bombing of the UN building last Friday. The violent Islamic sect, Boko Haram, has claimed responsibility for the attack which attracted condemnation worldwide.



Although a few members of the police intelligence unit were said to be part of the investigation of the latest bombing in the federal capital territory, our correspondents gathered that the nation’s security agencies had indeed been asked to take the back seat.



Our correspondent gathered that there was grumbling among the top security and intelligence officers who felt “embarrassed and ridiculed” by the development.



Top security agents in the country also believed that the FBI’s efforts were bound to achieve little “due to the unfamiliar terrain and peculiar Nigerian environment.”



A senior police officer who spoke to our correspondent on Sunday attributed their skepticism to the failure of the foreign experts to provide tangible clues to past bombings in the country which they also investigated.



“FBI operatives and other foreign experts have been taking part in investigations into the bombings in the country from the October 1, 2010 incident to the June 16, 2011 Force Headquarters blast. Yet, they have not been able to provide any useful lead that could help us to apprehend the masterminds.



“Remember that after the two incidents, the team gathered some evidence from the blast scene which they took to their labs in the United States, but nothing has been heard about the result of the analyses till date,” the police officer said.



The security chief explained that the results of forensic analysis usually did not take more than 24 hours, adding that the nation’s security agencies had been kept in the dark since then.



On the speculation that the security agencies had advance warning of the bombing, the police officer said he was not aware, but added that security agencies would have foiled it if it was true that they had advance warning.



The Force Public Relations Officer, Olusola Amore, declined to comment on the development. He said he was on leave. When contacted, the FCT Police Public Relations Officer, Moshood Jimoh, also declined to speak on the investigation, stressing that releasing information might jeopardize the ongoing probe.



When asked if the investigators had traced the owner of the car that was used for the bombing, he said, “All I can tell you is that we are making progress in the investigation. I can’t reveal anything now because it may jeopardise investigations, but we have opened information desks at the UN building and Transcorp Hilton Hotel to help members of the public seeking information on their missing relatives and loved ones.”



The UN attack came on the heels of series of bomb attacks by Boko Haram which claimed to be fighting for the institution of Sharia, in the country.



Founded in 2002, the sect has been engaged in a bombing campaign targeted at hurting the Federal Government and its agencies. On June 16, a lone bomber suspected to be an operative of the sect attacked the Abuja headquarters of the Police. The lone bomber and one policeman died in the attack while 70 vehicles were either burnt or destroyed.



Boko Haram had also carried out a series of bombings in Maiduguri, Borno State, where the sect was founded, and in a number of Northern cities, attacking police facilities, military barracks and drinking joints.



On Sunday, in a release, INTERPOL Secretary General Ronald K. Noble condemned the attack. He offered to issue the organisation’s colour-coded international notices to alert law enforcement around the world about the attackers’ modus operandi, to obtain additional information about individuals in relation to the investigation, and to seek the arrest of persons wanted in connection with the attack.



Meanwhile, Senator Babafemi Ojudu has said in Ado-Ekiti, Ekiti State on Sunday that the nation’s security agencies lacks the intelligence capacity to halt Boko Haram attacks.



Ojudu said it was worrisome that security agencies were always taken unawares on every occasion that the sect had attacked the country.



The Senator who described the attack on the UN building as an affront to the international community, asked the Ministry of Defence to sit up and justify the increase in its allocation.



He said, “It has become a pattern for authorities and security agencies to threaten fire and brimstone after attacks, but so far no meaningful progress has been made.



“Security agencies should focus their efforts on preventing attacks on effective intelligence gathering in a bid to prevent the attacks; waiting for attacks to occur before swinging into action is a clear vote of no confidence on the ability of security agencies.”


 

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