Blast: Police Name Suspects, Arrest One

THISDAY Newspaper

Abuja — The Nigeria Police yesterday named two suspects in the Independence Day bomb blasts as fresh details emerged on how the security agencies tried to pre-empt the attacks in what an insider called "a race against time".

Police named and released the pictures of two men - Chima Orlu and Ben Jessy - whom they described as the masterminds of the attacks in a statement issued last night by the Force PRO, Mr. Emmanuel Ojukwu, an Assistant Commissioner of Police.

He also said an arrest had been made but did not give the details on the suspect.

The police confirmed that 10 persons were killed and 36 injured, including 11 policemen.Ojukwu said the blasts destroyed six vehicles, damaged 18 "and shattered the glasses of a hotel nearby".He said forensic experts were already checking "about a hundred vehicles trapped in the vicinity of the blasts to ascertain the make, composition and origin of the explosives", adding that as soon as the forensic examination was over, "the vehicles will be released to their owners and the roads re-opened to normal traffic".

On the suspects, he said: "Any person who sees them or knows their whereabouts is requested to kindly report to the nearest Police Station anywhere in the Federation of Nigeria, or abroad, or call or send SMS to the following telephone numbers: , and 0803-8305-707."

Abayomi Adeshida/Vanguard

The scene of a bomb blast during the 50th Independence Anniversary around the Millenium Park, Abuja.
THISDAY learnt that the two vehicles carrying the bombs might have provided the police with the key evidence that led to the identification of the suspects with the help of the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) whose operations are computerised.

The men behind the attacks planned to down a Nigerian Air Force display jet above the Eagle Square during the celebration and cause more damage, a security source told THISDAY last night.

"When security got a tip-off a day before the attacks, it became a race against time. They tried as much as possible to secure the Eagle Square and they made it really water-tight, but the terrorists still managed to operate from nearby streets," the source said.

But some foreign dignitaries raised questions as to how secure the surroundings were. The diplomats and some foreign heads of state were driven in a bus that passed one of the blast scenes 36 minutes before the explosion, suggesting that the cars bearing the bombs might have been stationed there by then.

It also emerged that two of the blast victims may be flown abroad for further medical treatment because of the severe nature of their injuries.

The two victims, Ikenna Chima, a 27-year-old man who is in Asokoro Hospital, and Joseph Laman, admitted in Gwagwalada Specialist Hospital in Abuja, are still in critical conditions.

President Goodluck Jonathan had said at the weekend that those behind last Friday's bomb blasts in Abuja, which claimed 12 lives, would soon be "named and shamed" even as Senate President David Mark said this is no time for forgiveness.

The president, who observed a minute silence in honour of the dead at a dinner in Marina State House annex, Lagos, on Saturday to commemorate Nigeria's Jubilee anniversary celebrations, said government was on the trail of the perpetrators of the dastardly act.

He said: "It is a small terrorist group that resides outside Nigeria and was sponsored to carry out the evil act. We are on their trail and will ensure that until they are arrested and brought to book, we will not rest.

"Government will no longer condone impunity and any culprit no matter how highly placed or connected will not go scot-free."

The president reiterated that the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) was not responsible for the act as purported but the terrorist group was hiding under the umbrella of the movement.

"We have contacted other members of MEND and they say they know nothing about it. Anybody that hides under the umbrella of MEND to carry out those acts will soon be exposed," he said.

The Senate President Mark has assured the Federal Government that it would get the support of the National Assembly on prompt arrest of the perpetrators and ensure maximum sanctions against them.

"Whatever may be the reason behind this, it is not acceptable," Mark said. "This is not the time to forgive anybody behind this evil. We urge the Federal Government and we will assist them that the evil doers must get maximum sanction."

Speaking on behalf of the 36 states governors, Akwa Ibom State Governor Godswill Akpabio said they were prepared to support the purposeful leadership of President Jonathan.

He urged the president not to despair or get distracted by "blackmail" referring to the terrorist attack on Friday.

"The problem of Nigeria today was not caused by the present leaders, therefore be strong because we know that you are God sent to liberate the nation," he said.

But in a statement signed by the Director, Media and Publicity of Gen. Ibrahim Babangida's campaign organisation, Prince Kassim Afegbua, the former military ruler and presidential aspirant said: "The position of the Federal Govern-ment on the very painful and morally reprehensible act of car bombing on Golden Jubilee celebration did not only expose a breakdown in the security of the nation, but also exposes the lack of co-ordination of the President Goodluck Jonathan-led Federal Government."

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In its response, the Jonathan/ Sambo Campaign Organisation said the president, as the chief security officer of the nation, had more information on this matter than any Nigerian.

"Trying to make political mileage from this sad event can only be the provenance of people whose staple is the violation of the lives and property of Nigerians. We are shocked that the IBB campaign organization would use the blood of the victims of the bomb blast to advertise the credentials of IBB. We all know what the jury on those credentials are. And indeed, if security is the forte of their candidate as so shamelessly advertised, many Nigerians who lost their lives in the IBB years would be living today. Why, if we may ask, was IBB the only former head of state absent from the occasion?" the organisation said in a statement signed by the Director of Media and Publicity, Mr. Sully Abu.


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