Suicide bombers in our midst

THE PUNCH Newspaper- Toyosi Ogunseye

The explosion that rocked the Nigerian Police Headquarters on Wednesday after a suicide bomber drove into the building that serves as the office of the Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Hafiz Ringim, is a confirmation that indeed suicide bombers are in our midst.

The bomber, who is believed to have died in the attack was said to have parked his Honda Civic car in the area reserved for Ringim 15 minutes after the IG got to the office. While being questioned over why he parked his car in that particular spot, the explosive went off.

Thursday’s explosion, which occurred barely 24 hours after the IG proclaimed that the days of the Boko Haram sect were numbered, was not the first time a Nigerian bomber would die after detonating the explosive on him.

In March 2011, two men who were carrying an Improvised Electronic Device on a motorcycle around Dualla junction in Jos died instantly after the explosive was detonated on motion.

Even though the Jos incident may be said to be an unconscious act by the carriers, the Abuja episode appears different. The bomber, whose identity is still unknown, seemed to have made a conscious and deliberate effort to detonate the explosive.

While suicide attacks are a common occurrence in countries that have a high rate of terrorist attacks, Nigeria recorded its first clear case on Thursday. And it may not be the last.

In fact, intelligence reports gathered earlier in the year revealed that the next stage of terrorism apart from the recent bomb explosions that had rocked the nation would be suicide bombing.

On March 20, 2011, SUNDAY PUNCH exclusively reported that a fundamentalist group, al-Qaeda, and Somali militants had begun massive recruitment of youngsters as suicide bombers in Nigeria.

The report indicated that some Nigerian youths had been recruited to be suicide bombers by the al-Qaeda and the Al-Shabaa – a fundamentalist group in Somalia.

The groups reportedly have serious links with the Boko Haram sect in the North and are spreading the gospel of suicide bombing and convincing the youths of the ‘benefits’ of embracing the act.

SUNDAY PUNCH had also reported that Nigerians should not be surprised if the country started witnessing the occurrence of suicide bombers as the masterminds were recruiting youngsters and convincing them that they would go to heaven if they planted explosives on their bodies. Some of them were also promised huge amounts of money if they accepted to go ahead with the act.

In March also, the Head of the Economic Desk of the Nigerian Embassy in Riyahd, Saudi Arabia and Ambassador designate, Ahmed Magaji, warned that the crisis in Yemen posed a great danger to the national security of Nigeria.

Magaji, who spoke during the Senate committee on Foreign affairs ambassadorial screening, acknowledged the large presence of Nigerians in the Middle East country and said some of them were being trained by the al-Qaeda.

The ambassador told a bewildered Senate that the al-Qaeda had specifically mentioned Nigeria as a country that was ripe for fundamentalists operations and that events in the Middle East and Libya shouldn’t be treated with kid gloves.

Magaji also said the now embattled Libyan leader, Muammar Gaddafi, during a meeting with the then Foreign Affairs Minister, Mr. Odein Ajumogobia, last October threatened to use Nigeria’s internal weakness to destabilise the country.

Similarly, a senior official of the Federal Bureau of Investigations Academy, Quantico, United States, confirmed the fears of Magaji and other security chiefs.

The FBI boss said the message of the late Osama Bin Laden, the al-Qaeda leader had spread rapidly in the country.

He said that it was not only al-Qaeda that was propagating the gospel of Osama but that Al-Shabaab too was involved and they were winning disciples, especially in the northern part of Nigeria.

Following this discovery, the FBI approached the Federal Government on the need to train security agencies on bomb detection and detonation.

The training attracted representatives of the Police Anti-Bomb Squad Unit, Immigration Service, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and the State Security Service.

The Police Public Relations Officer, Mr. Shola Amore, however, gave an assurance that if suicide bombers existed in the country, the intelligence unit of the force would catch up with them.

This promise given by the police was put to test by Thursday’s attack.

The audacity of the bomber and the masterminds of this dastardly act, no doubt sent shivers down the spines of the citizenry who received the news with shock.

Though there has been an increase in the number of explosive attacks in the past months and bombings are no longer strange news to most people, targeting the Force Headquarters has further increased the insecurity level in the country.

After all, if the IG is not safe, who is safe?


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