The Punch learnt on Sunday that President Goodluck Jonathan had given security agencies, including the State Security Service, seven days to apprehend those behind Friday’s twin bombings in Abuja.
“He (Jonathan) has given them seven days to fish out those behind the dastardly act,” said a top Presidency official in Abuja.
The official, who asked not to be named because he was not authorised to speak on the matter, added that the President had got intelligence reports of plans to violently disrupt Nigeria’s 50th independence anniversary celebrations at the Eagle Square almost a week to the event.
According to him, the information provided to the President was based on intelligence sourced by intelligence agencies in the United States, United Kingdom and Nigeria.
It was gathered that as soon as Jonathan was briefed about the impending attack, he directed relevant security agencies to be on the alert.
The official said, “Yes, the President got wind of the attack and directed security agencies to do something about it.
“You can see how pained he was; and that is why he believes there were security lapses.”
A statement from the SSS on Saturday had also confirmed that the Service was tipped off about the attacks.
The Service claimed in a statement by its spokesperson, Mrs. Marilyn Ogar, that “proactive measures reduced the degree of the damage caused by the explosions.”
Another highly placed source in the Presidency, who spoke to one of our correspondents after insisting on anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the matter, confirmed that the President had ordered that the security agencies must get to the root of the blasts within the week.
He said, “He wants this thing to be cleared within the week and the security agencies have been so directed.
“They were directed to make minute-by-minute updates on the investigations available to the President and they have been complying.”
The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, which claimed responsibility for the bomb blasts, said it had given a-five day warning to the Federal Government before its men struck.
The SSS is expected to speak today on the three suspects that were been arrested in connection with the blasts.
The Force Public Relations Officer, Mr. Emmanuel Ojukwu, who said this in a telephone interview on Sunday, described the arrests as a positive step in the bid to unearth the perpetrators of the bombings.
When asked why security agencies did not heed the warning about the incident given by foreign intelligence agencies, Ojukwu said the police “were not aware” of such information.
MEND leader, Mr. Henry Okah, was arrested in Johannesburg, South Africa, shortly after the bombings that left 14 people dead and 66 others injured.
Okah, who is billed to appear in a Johanesburg court on Monday (today) for “contravening the protection of Constitutional Democracy Against Terrorist and Related Activities Act,” has since denied involvement in the bombings that have continued to attract condemnations from within the country and abroad.
Jonathan had after visiting the victims of the blasts at the National Hospital Abuja on Saturday, declared that his administration would once more, overhaul the country’s security network.
Jonathan had said, “Security issues are not disclosed openly, but we have to re-examine our security system, no doubt about that, to face the modern challenges we have, even with or without this incident.”
However, while MEND claimed responsibility, the President was reported as saying that the name of the group was only being used by those behind the plot.
He hinted that his administration knew them; and that they would soon be fished out to face the law.
His Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr. Ima Niboro, quoted him as saying in statement.
“We are on their trail and I promise Nigerians that the matter will be investigated to the last, and until everybody that is connected is brought to book, we will not rest. Government will no longer condone this culture of impunity.
”There was a statement purported to have been written by MEND, but investigations show that members of MEND have said they don’t know about it.
”Anybody who thinks that he can come under the cover of Niger Delta struggle to perpetrate violence and criminality, your time is over. We will no longer tolerate it, we will not accept it, the security agents are on their trail, and Nigerians will soon know the actors behind this evil.”
But the President’s Campaign Organisation denied that Jonathan absolved any group of complicity in the bombings.
“The President has not exonerated anyone or group. Whoever was behind the bomb blast will be fished out no matter who or where they are. Trying to make political mileage from this sad event can only be the provenance of people whose staple is the violation of the lives and property of Nigerians,” the organisation’s Director of Media and Publicity, Mr. Sully Abu, said in a statement on Sunday.
Abu added that the organisation was “shocked that the IBB campaign organisation would use the blood of the victims of the bomb blast to advertise the credentials of the former military dictator.”
Also on Sunday morning, security operatives, comprising mostly mobile police and State Security Service personnel, cordoned off the road leading to the National Christian Centre, where the President worshipped.
Vehicles passing through the area were diverted, and worshippers who intended to drive into the centre to attend the service, directed to park about two kilometres away from the venue.
Also, the worshipers were subjected to thorough screening at three different points before they could were allowed into the centre.
The screening included a pat down and an examination by body scanners installed at the door of the centre.
Male security operatives searched the men, while women were handled by female officers.
Besides the body scanners, vehicles of the police Anti-Bomb Squad were also parked around the venue. Many security dogs were also sighted around the venue.
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