2nd bomb threat from MEND pushes Nigeria to beef up security at Abuja airport, NNPC….
Special to USAfricaonline.com
In a reasonable case of once bitten twice shy, USAfrica reporters in Nigeria say that the government of Nigeria and its security forces have been tightening security controls into this new week of October 15 through the end of the month for key buildings especially Abuja international airport, and the oil/gas headquarters of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC). This followed the threat by the Niger Delta militant group MEND of an imminent attack in the nation’s capital.
On October 1, 2010, during the 50th anniversary of Nigeria’s independence, MEND (pre-warned and) claimed credit for a bomb blast near the location where the official events were taking place and killed about 16 Nigerians.
The explosions in Nigeria’s capital Abuja on October 1, 2010, were reported here at USAfricaonline.com
Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan absolved MEND of the crime, a few hours after the attacks; a move he has been criticized for as hasty where calm judgement and prior investigations were required.
Jonathan’s newly appointed Inspector General of Police Hafiz Ringim issued a statement on Friday, October 15, 2010, in part response to the threats and crises said: “We are working to making sure that we have modern gadgets to detect weapons anywhere it is planted. Police is also acquiring helicopter gunship. We will no longer tolerate any such act. As a nation, we are taking it very seriously. The helicopter gunship will track down armed robbers, and other criminals within 20 minutes of such crime to handle the situation.”
A detailed report from AFP cite the concerns of travellers, noting that: officials, armed with bomb detectors, screened vehicles about 250 metres (800 feet) out on the airport access road, including conducting physical inspections of some vehicles.
“There was no such security measures were in place at the airport three days ago,” one traveller said.
The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) threatened in a statement on Friday an “imminent” bomb attack on Abuja, which experienced twin car bombings two weeks ago in which at least 12 people died and several others injured.
The threat came in a statement that criticised the government’s response to the October 1 Independence Day bombings.
MEND, which claimed responsibility for the Abuja blasts, said that opponents of President Goodluck Jonathan have been falsely implicated ahead of elections early next year, and vowed to carry out another attack to prove them innocent.
Security officials with bomb detectors were also stationed Saturday at the entrance of the state-run Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).
The corporation which manages Nigeria’s vast oil and gas industry, carried out a simulated bomb drill for its workers shortly after the October 1 blasts.
Nigeria’s police chief Hafiz Ringim, promised in a statement on Friday to ensure the safety and security of lives and property all over the country.
MEND, Nigeria’s most prominent militant armed group, claims to be fighting for a fairer distribution of oil revenue in the impoverished Niger Delta, the heart of the country’s oil industry.
After the bombings ex-MEND leader Henry Okah was arrested in South Africa, where he lives.
Okah has denied any links with the nine people arrested in Nigeria in the aftermath of the October 1 attacks.
Thousands of ex-militants signed up to a government amnesty last year, which has been credited with greatly reducing unrest in the Niger Delta.
More than 5,000 of them have undergone a rehabilitation programme at a camp set up for them by the government. ref: AFP