The chief of Nigeria’s police narrowly escaped death when a suicide bomber detonated a bomb just five minutes after he had arrived in his office. The bomber had targeted the Louis Edet House, Nigeria’s seat of Police power, located within the vicinity of Asokoro in the Federal Capital city of Abuja. Police authorities claimed the explosion left two people dead. Hospital authorities at the Asokoro General Hospital, where casualties were taken, however differed. They disclosed to a local daily, the Daily Champion that no fewer than 10 persons were brought in dead to the hospital. The Police Headquarters is a few kilometres from the main entrance to the State House Villa.
Similarly, about 73 cars parked at the car lot of the Force Headquarters, were destroyed by the blast which occurred at about 1100hours, according to Police sources. Hafiz Ringim, who is Inspector General of Police (IGP), may have escaped the attack which was allegedly launched by an Islamic extremists group, Boko Haram, as the suspected bombers, may have escaped being killed because he had arrived at the Louis Edet House shortly before the attack was launched.
The blast, which Police sources said went off in a car, sent a billow of smoke polluting the air for several hours. The Force headquarters has since fingered the ‘Boko Haram’ sect for the dastardly act. The explosion shook Louis Edet House to its foundation. It also destroyed glasses on the windows of most offices in the seven floor edifice. The merchant of death, who the Police claimed was a suicide bomber of the Boko Haram sect, which had been wreaking havoc in Maiduguri, Borno state, and other northern parts of the country, was said to have targeted the IGP and maybe, to also bring down the Louis Edet House FHQ building.
Force Public Relations Officer, Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP), Olusola Amore, who gave an insight into the attack said: “The unfortunate incident which led to the death of the suicide bomber and a Police traffic warden occurred at about 1100hrs when the suicide bomber vehicle was intercepted and directed to the car park for searching and checking. “The Traffic Warden who entered the vehicle of the suicide bomber to direct him to the car park was blown off along with him as soon as they got to the car park”.
Sources at Asokoro General Hospital more than 10 people brought in by the police, the military, FRSC and officers of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), had died and their bodies had been deposited in the hospital morgue. Amoren told journalists that “the body of the suspected suicide bomber had been recovered and a full investigation has commenced”. He further assured the public “that the criminal elements behind this dastardly attack will be fished out as the government, the Police and other security agencies will not succumb to the demand of any criminal group or individual”.
The incident which took people by surprise more especially as it occurred at the Force Headquarters, forced the security to cordon off all roads leading to the place as well as the Presidential Villa. Journalists, who were the only set of civilians permitted to come nearer the scene of the blast, had a rough time gaining access to the Force Headquarters. They were thoroughly screened and had to park their vehicles about one kilometre away from the Force Headquarters. It was a horrific scene as the dismembered bodies flung across some sections of the vast premises.
Some policemen told reporters that the suspected suicide bomber “was after the life of the IGP as he came in shortly before the IG arrived the premises and parked his vehicle on the car port used by the IGP, arguing with the security operatives who had asked him to move his vehicle to the public car park”. A Police officer who was on duty at the Police headquarters revealed under condition of anonymity that the suicide bomber had managed to squeeze in between the convoy of the IGP as he made to enter into the police headquarters. He revealed that the bomber was accosted and queried by an Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) for joining the IG’s convoy before he now moved to the public car park where he detonated the bomb.
The police officer who does not want his name mentioned said “the man had targeted our IG but for the quick intervention of the ASP who also died in the blast, the IG may have been affected by the bomb blast” He told reporters that the suicide bomber had arrived the premises in his 190 Mercedes Benz car and drove straight to the IG’s car park before he was asked to move his car to the public car park. Amoren while briefing newsmen later told reporters that “the man was accompanied to the car park by one of the Traffic Wardens attached to the Force Headquarters and it was while they were parking the vehicle for further scrutiny that the bomb went off, killing both the suicide bomber and the Traffic Warden”.
Other people who witnessed the incident spoke of how people ran helter-skelter at the Federal Secretariat, which is about a kilometre from the place as the explosion shook all the structures around the police headquarters. Similarly, activities around the State House, Presidential Villa, grinded to a halt as security operatives took extra security measures to screen all motorists entering the premises. All unofficial cars were turned back except for cars belonging to staff of the Villa and notable top government officials. As a result, all visitors both official and private, were disallowed access into the area which was condoned off by stern looking security personnel, who used metal detector equipment to screen even the authorized vehicles and their occupants.
Both the Protea Hotel, Asokoro which is on the adjoining street to the Force Headquarters and another building occupied by mobile telephone company, Airtel, were also affected by the blast. There were noticeable cracks on the walls of the building, while members of staff on duty were hurriedly evacuated. Mr. Abdul Mahmud, an Abuja based Lawyer who witnessed the blast was still visibly shocked to speak when Daily Champion accosted him but later managed to say he saw human flesh flying around about 500 meters from the Police headquarters. “We were holding a meeting about 500 meters away from the police headquarters when the bomb blast happened and we had to run out of the building for safety. When we came out, we saw human flesh flying around in the air,” he stated. It was the same story by his colleague, who gave his name as Chiedu Ezeani. He claimed that about five different blasts were heard after the first bomb was detonated.
Also giving eyewitness account was Ambassador Boniface Anidobu, who said he was driving past the Force Headquarters when the bomb exploded. He added that he had initially thought it was the SCC Construction Company that was blasting rocks in the daytime. “I had asked myself, how this company could be blasting rock in the daytime and at this kind of place: near the Supreme and Appeal Courts, near the Police Headquarters, near the Presidential Villa. It was after I stopped at the Federal Secretariat that I saw a huge smoke and I had to go back only to discover that there had been a bomb blast at the Police Headquarters and that it wreaked so much damage.” Another passer-by who gave his name as Alhaji Mahmud berated the security arrangements within the Police headquarters and wondered why the Police authority, which claimed it had installed CCTV monitors could not use same to monitor those entering its premises.