- Fear grips residents as northerners blast sect
- APC seeks global inquiry to unravel sponsors
By Lawrence Olaoye, Mohammed Umar-Puma, Abuja & Ayodele Samuel, Lagos, with agency reports
Boko Haram leader, Abubakar Shekau, yesterday claimed responsibility for the two explosions which went off at a fuel depot in Lagos, the nation’s commercial hub, on the 25th of last month.
This claim of responsibility by the terror group has caused tension in the city, even as the Arewa community in Lagos yesterday berated the terrorists, assuring that it would expose any person(s) with links to the sect in the nation’s commercial capital.
This is coming as the All Progressives Congress (APC) has called for an international inquiry into the activities of the sect, in order to unravel its sponsors and mode of operations.
Conversely, the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) finds the APC’s call as curious, at a time the British Parliament has instituted inquiries into the opposition party’s link with the terrorists.
Shekau, n a video released through the Agence France Presse (AFP), said: “A bomb went off in Lagos. I ordered (the bomber) who went and detonated it”.
This would be the first bombing incident by the terror group in Lagos, if the group was truly behind the incident as it claimed.
The two blasts, minutes apart, last month in the nation’s main port, Apapa, were almost certainly caused by bombs, three senior security sources and the manager of a major container company told Reuters. One was most likely the work of a female suicide bomber, they said.
Authorities said the blasts on Creek Road were an accident caused by a gas canister, but the security sources told Reuters that was a cover-up meant to avoid panic in the south western city hosting 21 million people. At least two people were killed.
“You said it was a fire incident. Well, if you hide it from people you can’t hide it from Allah,” Shekau said in the video, which showed him sitting next to at least 10 gunmen in front of two armoured personnel carriers and two pickup trucks.
A confirmed attack by Boko Haram would be a cause for concern. Lagos is both an international business hub and a usually peaceful but at times uneasy melting pot of ethnicities from all parts of the country.
The target of the Lagos bombs was a fuel depot. Had it gone up, it could have caused a massive chain explosion and disrupted the country’s mostly imported fuel supply.
Security sources say it may have been the work of a group or individual inspired by Boko Haram.
Shekau has been known to claim attacks suspected to be the work of another Islamist group or a criminal gang. Shekau gets the governor of Lagos state wrong, taunting Adams Oshiomhole, who is in fact the governor of Edo state, the agency reported.
Meanwhile, amidst tense atmosphere in the city over the terror group’s claim, the Arewa community, in a statement issued by the Chairman, Council of Arewa Chiefs and the leader of the Hausas in Lagos, Alhaji Sani Kabir, assured that “the Arewa community will neither hide nor aid terrorists in any way”.
It also condemned the activities of the Boko Haram sect, saying that their activities do not represent the teachings of Islam.
“Nigeria is facing challenges that are unprecedented in our recent history perpetrated by terrorists disguising as a religious group. We have enjoyed peace in Lagos and for that reason, we are sensitizing our people on the need to maintain peace and to be security conscious.
“We have also directed all our Imams to consistently intensify the message of peace among the community. We have also directed that people should not be allowed to sleep in mosques and other places designated for worship” the statement said.
The group also said that its leadership had instructed its members against sleeping or camping under the bridge or indiscriminate parking of vehicles along major highways.
It, however, urged its members in Lagos to participate in the proposed government’s registration of residents. “We believe that these measures will further strengthen the bond of friendship among other ethnic groups in Lagos,” it further stated.
In its call for global inquiry yesterday, the opposition APC said such would end the debate on the sponsors of the insurgency in some parts of the North, and facilitate efforts to tackle the menace once and for all.
The APC, in a statement issued in Lagos yesterday by its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said the inquiry should include intelligence experts from the US, UK, France and Canada, as well as representatives of the UN and Nigeria’s neighbours Cameroon, Chad and Niger.
It also said that representatives of the Nigerian military and other security agencies, especially the police and the Department of State Services, governments of the states worst-hit by the Boko Haram insurgency, including Adamawa, Borno, Yobe, Kano, Bauchi and Jigawa, the Federal Capital Territory, the Christian Association of Nigeria, the Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, civil society organisations, the Nigeria Labour Congress, the Trade Union Congress, National Human Rights Commission, the Nigerian Bar Association, and any other relevant individuals or groups should also be involved.
“We hope the PDP-led federal government, which has led the incessant but baseless campaign to point accusing fingers at the opposition, especially our party, the APC, will give its total support to the immediate constitution of this international panel of inquiry. We have no doubt that the international community will give its unalloyed support to this inquiry, in view of the trans-national nature of the insurgency and the threat posed by terrorism to global peace and security,’’ the party said.
The opposition party continued “On our part, we pledge our total support for this inquiry anytime it is launched, but hopefully very soon”.
“Enough is enough. The daily killing, maiming and abduction of innocent Nigerians, as a clueless federal government looks on, must end. The pervasive insecurity that has crippled Nigeria since this insurgency started must be halted. Those behind it must be unravelled and prosecuted. Let the inquiry begin!’’
But the PDP, while describing as curious, the APC’s call for international inquiry, particularly questioned the timing, when an inquest into APC’s links with insurgency was tabled before the British Parliament.
A statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Chief Olisa Metuh, said: “Indeed, the APC statement betrays a party that has become unsettled and highly apprehensive following the increasing demand by
the British parliamentarians for an enquiry into their links with the insurgency and violence ravaging our dear nation.
“We ask, is the APC in a desperate move to pre-empt the British Parliament for fear of indictment or are they seeking to promote an orchestrated inquest to exonerate themselves?
“We urge Nigerians to see beyond the surface, to continue to be alert and note the actions of the APC and their efforts to frustrate genuine fight against insurgency and terrorism in our country”, it said.