Pandemonium in Lagos following bomb scare
Pandemonium broke out in Lagos yesterday over a bomb scare even as Maiduguri, witnessed another explosions, late Tuesday.
Both incidents came on the heels of assurance by President Goodluck Jonathan over the safety of lives and property.
The National Security Adviser (NSA), Gen. Andrew Owoye Azazi, however, disowned a statement that terrorism has come to stay in the country, the report was carried by the papers yesterday.
In Maiduguri, the Borno State capital, the city was thrown into confusion following two bomb blasts within two hours.
The two bombs were allegedly planted by suspected members of the Boko Haram. It was learnt that the first blast occurred along Baga Road, Maiduguri, at about 8.15pm, and the second in Bundum Ward, shattering the vehicle housing the Improved Explosive Device (IED).
An eyewitnesses, Mallam Nuhu Isa, a securityman, in one of the new generation banks on Baga Road, said that the explosion occurred outside the bank’s gate. He said: ``I was traumatized when I heard the blast because we were thinking that the era of bomb blast was over in the state. ``What I did was to quickly run inside to prevent any misgiving.” Another eyewitness, Goni Lawan Ali, said that he heard the explosion when he was in the toilet and had to rush out, hid himself and his family inside the room for fear that the Special Military Task force (STF) soldiers might storm the area in search of the bombers.
He added that ``after about an hour, we relaxed when we did not hear gunshots as usual and went to bed.’’
But security sources said the explosion was targeted at the residence of an undisclosed politician as it hit his car which was parked outside the house. A police officer who spoke on the condition of anonymity said: ``The bomb was targeted at the politician, but he was lucky that it only hit his car shortly after his driver parked it and that although the driver escaped unhurt; the vehicle was destroyed.”
In Lagos, a drama played out yesterday when a council employee, who did not want to be named, sighted a suspicious device on top of an air-conditioner behind the Treasurer’s office in Ikeja Local Government Area. There was stampede when he raised the alarm. In the ensuing melee, people including staff, visitors to the secretariat and traders fled to escape possible death. With the increasing threat from Islamic fundamentalists, better known as Boko Haram, and the spate of bombings in the country, more Nigerians are security conscious.
In response, the Lagos State government last week, beefed up security at its secretariat in Alausa, Ikeja.
But yesterday, many people, including staff and visitors to the council office were injured in the melee.
Vehicles collided when motorists were speeding off for safety. Daily Sun reliably gathered that at about 3.35 pm, a staff of the local government sighted the suspected IED on top of the airconditioner.
The council’s management was said to have notified the Lagos State police command who alerted the police Anti-Bomb Squad.
The operatives demobilized the object before taking it out for analysis. Earlier on, a police source at the anti-bomb unit told Daily Sun that: “It is too early to conclude until final analysis. It may be an ordinary object but we cannot conclude now until investigation is concluded.” Later, the device turned out to be a hoax. A staff of the local government, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told Daily Sun that he saw the object before it was taken away by the police.
He said: “I am convinced that the object is a bomb. The way it was designed and packaged showed that it was not ordinary.” He said when the staff raised the alarm, all the staff and visitors took to their heels. “Many people got injured during the stampede. I got an injury on my nose when I had head collision with another staff.” However, the Commissioner of Police (CP), in charge of Anti-Bomb Squad, Mr. Ambrose Aisabor, confirmed the bomb scare at the council’s secretariat.
He said preliminary analysis showed that the object was fabricated to look like an IED. “The object had a handset in it, some wires and two other items.” He described the fabricated object to be the handiwork of mischief-makers who wanted to scare people. It was a hoax and nothing more.” He said at about 3.30 pm, the Assistant Commissioner of Police in-charge of operations in the state command, Vincent Brown Obakpolor, notified his command about the development.
He said operatives from the Improvised Ordinance Department (IOD) raced to the scene and demobilized the object which was taken for analysis. “And after the analysis, there was no likelihood of explosive in the object.” Aisabor advised members of the public to always notify the squad anytime they see suspected objects, adding that people should not panic as his command was ever ready to assist.
When Daily Sun visited the scene, most of the staff of the local government were seen outside the premises for the fear that other suspected explosive devices may still be in the office. A man, who identified himself as Wale said: “It is true that the object had been removed and the office combed by the police, but I am still not convinced. Other objects may still be in the ceilings. Many vehicles were abandoned on the road, hours after the incident. Items such as baby wears, provisions, sweets, biscuits, among others, littered the road behind the local government office. The products were abandoned by street traders who scampered for safety during the stampede.
Meanwhile, President Jonathan said yesterday that the authorities will check terrorism, assuring diplomats and other foreigners living in the country that government would not relent. The President was speaking to the outgoing Korean Ambassador, Mr. Park Young-Kuk, during his farewell visit to the State House, Abuja on Wednesday. A statement issued by Musa Aduwak on behalf of the Special Adviser to the President (Media and Publicity), said that terrorism is alien to Nigeria, and so posed immediate challenges to the security agencies.
He thanked South Korea for supporting Nigeria’s electoral process, among other areas of bilateral assistance and co-operation. He wished Mr. Young-Kuk success in his next post. Earlier, Young-Kuk had consoled Nigeria over the UN building bomb blast in Abuja, while expressing appreciation for the country’s contribution to the expanding bilateral trade between the two nations. Meanwhile, General Azazi yesterday rejected the statement credited to him that terrorism has come to stay in Nigeria. He described the report as a misrepresentation of his position.
The NSA said what he simply meant was that Nigeria, as a sovereign nation, has a lot of societal hurdles to cross in her developmental journey.“I did not say that terrorism has come to stay in Nigeria, what I meant is that there are challenges we must accept, there are some challenges that stare us in the face, we must come together to address those challenges, he stated.” He, however, called on all Nigerians to join hands to combat the war against terror.
The NSA did not throw more light on the issues as he was in a hurry to travel. Meanwhile, the Ekiti State government has adopted some security measures to beef up security around the Governor’s Office in Ado-Ekiti. Part of the measures included the restriction of commercial motor-cyclists (okada riders) from entering the open park where they normally stop each time they bring passengers to the Governor’s Office.
The government has also barred telephone handsets and all other electronic devices from the Executive Chamber where the government holds its weekly meetings.
In a notice pasted at the entrance of the chamber in the Governor’s Office, signed by the Chief Security Officer (CSO), it was disclosed that the security situation in the country had made such a decision to be necessary.