Aug. 31, 2011 – President Goodluck Jonathan yesterday sought to reassure Nigerians that he was stepping up security to prevent more bomb attacks.
In the latest attack, a car bomber drove explosives into the U.N. headquarters in Abuja last Friday, killing 23 people.
The attack was claimed by the Islamist sect Boko Haram, who have been blamed for almost daily shootings or attacks with homemade bombs against security services and civilians in the Borno state area.
“The President wishes to reassure all citizens and foreigners…his administration is taking every necessary action to enhance national security,” his office said in an statement to mark the Muslim Eid-al-Fitr holiday.
The bomb on Friday gutted a floor, smashed nearly all of the windows and wounded 76 people, U.N. officials said, in one of the worst attacks on the United Nations in its history.
“President Jonathan has directed the security services to rapidly evolve…additional security, intelligence-gathering and counter-terrorism measures,” the statement said.
It gave no further details.
Jonathan and his security services have refused to be drawn on who could have carried out the attack, seen by many as an embarrassing security breach for the government.
The reaction from Abuja residents to Jonathan’s statement was lukewarm, with some questioning security forces’ abilities.
“Do something before they bomb your own office,” said Umar Enevene Jacob.
“Mr. President, the opinion of Nigerians is that you appear helpless in this fight against terrorism,” said Okeoma Aguocha, “My suggestion is that your NSA should be relieved of his appointment, he has obviously failed.”
Aguocha also continued, “I suggest you appoint an NSA from the north who will have the ability to discuss with the northern elements. Mr President, Nigerians want you to take a drastic action, no gentleman in the fight against terrorism.”
Inspector-General of Police Hafiz Ringim told diplomats that a number of arrests had already been made in connection with the bomb, but gave no details. He also offered diplomats whatever special security coverage they required.
“We want to see results from these efforts because the current insecurity gives the impression that governmnent is doing nothing to secure our lives,” said businessman Martin Aduale, 52.
Violence in the ethnically and religiously mixed city of Jos killed 13 people on Monday, creating yet another headache for Nigeria’s stretched security services. (Daily Times)