UN bombing suspects
The State Security Service on Wednesday unmasked the alleged mastermind of last Friday’s bombing of the United Nations building in Abuja.
A statement by the spokesperson for the SSS, Maurilyn Ogar, named the alleged mastermind as Mamman Nur. While declaring Nur wanted, the SSS described him as “a notorious Boko Haram element with al-Queda links.”
The SSS asked the public to provide useful information that might lead to the arrest of Nur, who it said returned to the country from Somalia recently. The agency said two other suspects, Babagana Ismail Kwaljima, a.k.a Abu Sumaya, and Babagana Mali, a.k.a Mali, were already in custody.
“Investigation has revealed that one Mamman Nur, a notorious Boko Haram element with al-Qaeda links who returned recently from Somalia, working in concert with the two suspects, masterminded the attack on the United Nations building in Abuja.
“Further investigation has also revealed that the car used for the attack was a Honda car with Kano State registration number AV38NSR.
“It was purchased on September 3, 2002 and registered on December 3, 2002. The vehicle identification number is 1HGCBA7400A100748, and Engine number, F22A72000540.”
However, unlike what obtains in other countries where the circumstances leading to the arrest of terrorism suspects are made public, the SSS was silent on how the mastermind and his associates planned the bombing. The agency did not also say whether the suspects in its care are the ones the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Hafiz Ringim, said had been arrested. The IGP at a meeting with diplomatic corps on Monday had said some suspects in the UN bombing had been arrested.
The SSS’ claim that Nur just returned from Somalia tallies with a recent statement by the Boko Haram that some of its members had gone for training in the East African country.
The agency explained that it had arrested Kwaljima and Mali on August 21, 2011 during joint operations by all security services.
It maintained that the two suspects were leaders of Boko Haram, and had made valuable statements to investigators. According to the SSS, the suspects are being held at a military facility, which it refused to disclose.
President Goodluck Jonathan at a meeting with the National Security Adviser, IGP, Director-General of the SSS and other security chiefs on Tuesday had reportedly slammed the security chiefs for their inability to stem the bombings.
Meanwhile, the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon, has said that the world body will soon review its assessment of the security situation in Nigeria following last Friday’s bomb blast, the News Agency of Nigeria reports.
Ban, in remarks to the UN Security Council and a closed-door special session of the General Assembly later on Tuesday in New York, said the UN “will also undertake a full review of the incident and our security measures at UN House.’’
He promised to share the results of the review with member states “at the first opportunity.’’
The secretary general said the suicide bomb attack in Abuja was the second major “terrorist attack’’ on UN premises this year.
In April, seven UN staff were killed in Mazai-i-Sharif, Afghanistan, after a mob, enraged by the burning of a Koran in the U.S., stormed a UN compound in Afghanistan.
Ban, who addressed the 193-member General Assembly for the first time after he had dispatched two senior UN officials to Abuja, described the UN building in Abuja as “a well built structure.” He said, “What we know is that this attack was the work of a suicide bomber who rammed a sport utility vehicle at high speed through the exit gates of the UN compound.
“The UN House in Abuja, home to 26 UN agencies and programmes, is a well built structure with robust security measures.
“This attack is therefore cause for serious reassessment, not just in Nigeria, and not just at high threat locations, but worldwide.’
Ban vowed that the world body would not be deterred from continuing its work, saying “the goal of the UN must be to stay and not leave in difficult security conditions. We must carry out our vital work, not lock ourselves behind fortresses.”
He pledged that the UN would do everything possible to assist the victims of the attack and their families.
Ban also announced that one young Norwegian woman named Ingrid Midtgaard from Oslo was among the 11 UN staff killed in the attack in Abuja.
“Clearly, the UN and our people are being targeted more and more often by terrorists worldwide.
“Too often, it seems we are considered a “soft target.” The security of our staff working overseas must be paramount.
“We must draw the lessons learned from Abuja and together we must commit the effort and resources to implement them,” he said.
He announced that the Deputy Secretary-General would hold a town hall meeting in New York on Thursday (today) to discuss the tragedy.
Ban thanked the Nigerian government for its assistance in the aftermath of the attack and praised the courage and dedication of the UN team in Abuja.
The suicide bombing early last Friday had killed at least 23 people and injured more than 80 others.
The violent Islamic sect, Boko Haram, has claimed responsibility for the attack. The sect, currently engaged in an insurgency against the Federal Government, said it was fighting for the establishment of Sharia law in the country.
On June 16, a member of the sect also attacked the police headquarters in Abuja. The suicide bomber and a policeman died in the attack. Seventy vehicles were also either burnt or destroyed in the incident.
Members of the sect have also attacked police facilities, military barracks and drinking joints in Maiduguri, Borno State, and other communities in the northern part of the country.