SSS arrests 9 over Abuja blasts

VANGUARD Newspaper

State Security Service, SSS, said yesterday that nine suspects have so far been arrested in connection with the October 1 twin bomb blasts that almost marred Nigeria’s Golden Jubilee celebrations, which claimed 16 lives and several others were injured.

Service’s spokesperson, Mrs. Marilyn Ogar, told newsmen at a news briefing that information was received on September 28 that the Three Arms Zone was to be bombed and that six vehicles had already been prepared for the purpose.

She said the security agency in conjunction with the police and the military immediately swung into joint operations, during which nine abandoned vehicles were evacuated from the area thereby foiling the original bombing planned for Wednesday, September 29, 2010.

Her words: “The despicable act of terrorism which eventually took place on October 1, 2010 was planned for Wednesday, September 29, 2010, but was foiled as soon as the information was received during the early hours of September 28, 2010.

The overriding objective of the group was to scare foreign visitors from attending the 50th celebration on October 1.

Towing trucks

“On Tuesday, September 28, 2010 about 0130 hours, information was received that the Three Arms Zone was to be bombed and six vehicles had already been prepared for the purpose but the Service contacted the military which provided three towing trucks which were added to that of the Service to evacuate the abandoned vehicles.

“During the operations that lasted from 0215 to 0630 of the same date, a total of nine abandoned vehicles were towed away and of these, two were near the SSS headquarters, two facing the Villa gate and the National Assembly, two close to the police headquarters, one at the Eagle Square and two around Apo Legislative quarters.

“Later the Federal Road Safety Corp, FRSC, and the Vehicle Inspection Office, VIO, were co-opted into the operations, to move around the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, towing away abandoned vehicles.

These efforts which lasted till the morning of October 1, saw 65 abandoned vehicles removed. It is worthy of note that out of the seven vehicles removed from the Three Arms Zone, four are yet to be collected.”

Ogar said that “when the plan A of the group was foiled, they resorted to the penetration of the Eagle Square in an attempt to plant explosive devices but the Service had deployed hi_tech equipment in and around the Eagle Square and jammed the detonation of any such explosives.”

She said: “On October 1, the Eagle Square and its environs was cordoned off and appropriate measures were put in place by the joint efforts of all security and law enforcement agencies to prevent any untoward incident but the rain showers of that morning provided the leeway for double parking by motorists and in the process the perpetrators apparently gained access to park on the road side as well.

“So far, nine arrests have been made and all have direct links with Henry Okah, the incident and some unscrupulous prominent elements in the society. Due to on-going investigations, the names of the suspects and their sponsors cannot be disclosed at this stage.”

On the number of casualties recorded so far, Mrs. Ogar said eight security officers died and one civilian, which was the sachet water seller at the bomb blasts scene.

Ogar denounced the insinuation that security agencies were not prepared for the bomb blast, stressing that it was the preparedness of the security agencies that led to the low number of lost souls. She noted that most of those that eventually died and had injuries were the security officers, adding: “Imagine if the bomb blast was at the venue, I won’t subscribe to the fact that we were not prepared.

“As far as I’am concerned the security measures were effective, imagine a situation whereby the bombs were planted at the Eagle Square what would have happened to that large crowd at the venue.

“I refuse to believe that the security measures put in place were not effective, they were very effective and that is why security operatives died to protect innocent Nigerians.”

Okah charged

The South Africa based leader of Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta, MEND, Mr Henry Okah was, yesterday, arraigned in a Johannesburg court in connection with Friday’s twin bomb blasts in Abuja which claimed 16 lives and injured several others even as State Security Service said it had arrested nine suspects over the incident.

Prosecutors at the Johannesburg court charged Okah, who lives in South Africa, with conspiracy to commit a terrorist act and the detonation of explosive devices in Abuja.

The magistrate overseeing the court proceeding, Hein Louw, said: “The accused is linked to the bombing that took place in Abuja,” while the prosecutors described him as the mastermind of the Abuja bombings.

Okah, who was arrested in Johannesburg on Saturday, has denied links to the blasts saying that his group was not responsible for the car bombings.

On Sunday, the police declared Chima Orlu and Ben Jessy wanted in connection with the bombing as suspects in the case but gave no further details about them. Okah, 45, was, however, not asked to make his plea to the charge and said nothing in court except to greet his lawyers.

His defence said he was innocent and that they would file an urgent appeal for him to be released on grounds of unlawful arrest.

The prosecution and defence discussed whether he should be held at a more secure prison while he awaits his next court appearance, but he was remanded in police custody until his next appearance on October 14.


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