Sunday, June 19, 2011

A terrible ‘First’ for Nigeria

Daily Trust
17 June 2011

We do not as yet know the name of the man who drove a Mercedes Benz V-Boot on Abuja’s streets early yesterday, attached himself to the convoy of Inspector General Hafiz Ringim as the police boss drove to work, attempted to con his way through the heavy security at the gates of the Force Headquarters and, when he was diverted to the visitors’ car park, detonated a car bomb that killed him, a policeman sitting by his side and scores of other people in the car park. In doing so he wrote his anonymous name into the history books: the first ever suicide bomber in Nigeria.

The Jama’atu ahlus-Sunnah lid da’awati wal Jihad, better known as Boko Haram, has already claimed responsibility for the shock event of yesterday, the most daring attack in Nigeria since the October 1, 2010 bombings near
Eagle Square, Abuja
during the ceremonies marking 50 years of this country’s independence.

It is not easy to verify the claim of responsibility by Boko Haram, since two different spokesmen spoke on its behalf yesterday and neither of them was available for a direct interview. Yet, the sect’s claim of responsibility for this bombing sounds plausible because only two days earlier, IGP Ringim was in Maiduguri, the sect’s nerve centre, and he boasted after receiving a donation of armoured personnel carriers and pickup trucks from the state government that the days of Boko Haram are numbered. Ringim said with the 2011 general elections over, the police can now concentrate full attention on the sect, which is accused of carrying out many murders and bomb blasts in Borno and Bauchi states in the past year. It is also suspected of being behind the bomb blasts at Mogadishu Barracks in Abuja late last year, and more recently at a mammy market in Bauchi and at a drinking joint at Madallah in Niger State.

On the day that the IG’s remarks were reported in the newspapers [Wednesday], the Boko Haram said in Maiduguri that it was no longer ready for dialogue with the authorities and that it would continue with its armed campaign.

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