Federal Republic of Nigeria President Goodluck Jonathan holding talks with US President Barack Obama. The Christmas 2011 bombings in Nigeria may provide greater openings for Pentagon intervention., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
U. S. pledges to join battle against bombings
By Our Reporter
The United States has pledged to support the Nigerian government to battle the menace of bombings.
The White House yesterday condemned the violent Christmas Day terrorist attacks on St. Theresa’s Catholic Church in Madalla, near Abuja, which led to the death of 26 people. Many others were injured.
“We condemn this senseless violence and tragic loss of lives on Christmas Day,” the White House said in a statement released, by White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, from Haawaii where President Barack Obama is vacationing.
“We have been in contact with Nigerian officials about what initially appeared to be terrorist acts, and pledge to assist them in bringing those responsible to justice,” it said.
The U.S. promised to help Nigeria find those responsible for the Christmas Day bombings.
John Campbell, a former U.S. ambassador to Nigeria, says Boko Haram has given voice to what he calls “a cloud of inchoate rage shaped by Islam”, that has brewed among northerners.
“(President) Jonathan needs to address this northern alienation, of which Boko Haram is only a symptom,” Campbell wrote in a recent op-ed for Foreign Affairs magazine.
“Too heavy a hand would risk alienating Nigeria’s 75 million Muslims, who already have legitimate grievances in the north. This, in turn, could undermine the very unity of Nigeria - something neither Washington nor Abuja can afford,” said Campbell, who is the Ralph Bunche senior fellow for Africa policy studies at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) in New York.
Pope Benedict XVI again denounced the bombing of a Nigerian Catholic church, saying only respect and reconciliation can bring peace — not violence.
‘Explosions call for national emergency’
By Our Reporter
Some prominent Nigerians yesterday said the Christmas Day bomb attacks in parts of the country called for a national emergency.
They told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that the loss of innocent Nigerians through the activities of the Boko Haram sect was threatening the sovereignty of Nigeria.
Former Presidential candidate of the Social Democratic Mega Party in the April elections, Prof Pat Utomi, said the attacks had stretched the nation’s patience.
“The Christmas Day bomb blast is a great tragedy coming on a day that represents peace on earth as Christians celebrate the birth of Christ.
“This latest development calls for a national emergency and the need for a summit for Nigerians to decide where the nation is going,’’ Utomi said.
He said where the nation was heading could no longer be left in the hands of security officials alone.
“It is obvious that these officials seem not to understand what is going on and how to handle it. Nigerian people must sit to discuss the way forward and ignoring this would spell greater disaster for the nation.”
Chief Maxi Okwu, the Coordinator of the Patriotic Alliance of Nigeria (PAN), an association of opposition political parties, said: “Government security agencies across the nation seem to be losing the war on terrorism.
“Government must change its tactics by doing more of counter-terrorism, intelligence gathering and infiltration,’’ Okwu said.
He said there was immediate need for Nigerians to sit down and talk before the carnage ripping across the country became impossible to handle.
“Nigeria must go back to the original agreement on federalism which has been lost. The Federal Government must coordinate and finetune the basic agreement,” he said.
Dr Federick Faseun, the founder of Oodua People’s Congress, described the attacks as sad and unfortunate.
Faseun said enough attention has not been paid to terrorism in Nigeria.
He decried the continued loss of lives in Nigeria through terrorist activities, insisting that the fastest way out of the situation was a national summit.
“No doubt Nigeria is in a sad situation and the Federal Government must tackle the situation as a national emergency,” he said.
The President of the Arewa Youth Consultative Forum (AYCF), Alhaji Yerima Shettima, also condemned the bomb blast.
Yerima told NAN that there was hope in Nigeria if government could listen to reason and facilitate the convocation of a sovereign national conference.
He said the Christmas Day bomb attacks might have been masterminded by those who wanted to instigate a religious crisis in Nigeria.
The AYCF president said the masterminds of the attacks would face the wrath of Allah even if they were not caught because no one had the right to take life, which only God gives.
Fed Govt to strengthen security in churches, mosques
By Kelvin Osa-Okunbor
The Federal Government is to strengthen security in churches and mosques to forestall attacks by terrorists, Minister of Police Affairs Caleb Olubolade has said.
Olubolade spoke yesterday in Madalla, Niger State, while inspecting the St. Theresa Catholic Church, which was bombed.
NAN reports that two bombs exploded in front of the church at about 8.10am, shortly after the morning mass.
Olubolade condemned the blast and vowed that the perpetrators would be prosecuted.
“It is now clear that places of worship, like churches and mosques, are increasingly becoming targets of attacks. We need to provide security accordingly,’’ he said.
The minister called on Nigerians to be vigilant and security-conscious as “government takes steps to strengthen security’’.
Alhaji Ibrahim Maishanu, the Police Commissioner in the state, has confirmed that 12 persons, including three policemen, died in the blast.
Former Kwara State Governor Bukola Saraki yesterday condemned those behind the blast describing it as an unacceptable act that violates the Christian celebration of Christmas
He called on Nigerians to cooperate with President Goodluck Jonathan to tackle of insecurity in the country.
The senator said insecurity was not “a Jonathan problem”, but the collective responsibility of all.
Saraki called for a national collaboration in resolving the threat to insecurity even as he canvassed a multi - pronged approach across party lines in resolving the problem.
Speaking to reporters on arrival at the presidential wing of the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Ikeja, Lagos, Saraki said: ‘’First and foremost, we have to condole the families that lost their members in the unfortunate incident. Though, it is still sketchy to determine what happened, it is sad on a day like this, when people are in a celebratory mood, and people are giving their lives for worship when it occurred.
“This is because I heard it happened in church. I think, it is very very sad. It is so sad, that on a day like this, when families are celebrating Christmas, and people are giving their lives to worship God in church”
The former Kwara State Governor added: “I think as a country, honestly, this is another awakening call, that we have very serious problems in our hands, before us.
“And, I believe that as leaders, we should not see it as a Jonathan problem, this is a Nigerian problem, that all of us; former leaders, current leaders and new generation leaders must see it as a national problem.
“Because it is what we give the new generation that they will inherit.
‘’And we need to find a solution to it, and see how we can use whatever method is possible in putting an end to it.
“This could be achieved by both talking about it . We appeal to everybody that we must put an end to this. It is a collective challenge, across party lines, across other lines. Whether you are a politician or not, this is affecting Nigeria, we should not say that it is a Jonathan Goodluck problem.”
Also, former Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives Chibudom Nwuche yesterday in Abuja condemned the Christmas Day bombing in Madalla, Jos and Yobe, calling on security agencies to stop the unprovoked attacks.
He urged the government to equip the security agencies to enable them carry out more of intelligence gathering.
Nwuche, in a telephone interview with The Nation, said: “I believe these Christmas bombings are totally condemnable and unacceptable. They are unprovoked attacks and cannot be justified under any guise. If the group or whosoever is the assailant has any grievances, they should table such for discussion.
“I advise the security agencies to do all they can to fish out the culprits. What is required to forestall further attacks is intelligence gathering and not physical presence. The State Security Services are well-equipped to tackle the issue. They should be equipped to carry out their job. At least, they have succeeded in reducing kidnapping in the Niger Delta. Let them be equipped to gather intelligence and penetrate the cells of these terrorists groups. If we re-equip the security forces optimally, they should be able to file out and begin the process of gathering intelligence.”