Recent reports reveal that the incident at the UN building that led to the death of 23 people and the hospitalization of several others may in fact be one of the many consequences of the corruption, nepotism, disregard to ethics and responsibility and abuse of power often witness in the Nigerian society.
According to the Associated Press, A high ranking official had informed them that in 2007, a man who officials now say helped organize last week’s deadly car bombing at the United Nations headquarters in the nation’s capital and several radical Muslims suspected of being terrorists were detained and released by the Nigeria.
The men arrested four years ago had allegedly been caught with explosives. Their rapid release from detention was apparently aimed at placating Muslim groups, but it has now come back to haunt security officials who fear a growing wave of al-Qaida-linked terror attacks in Nigeria, a main supplier of oil to the United States.
Some of those arrested in October 2007 were even plotting to carry out attacks in the United States and to attack American targets here, in Africa’s most populous country, said the official, who claimed direct knowledge of the arrests. He spoke on condition of anonymity due to the political sensitivity of the case and because he is not authorized to discuss the matter with journalists.”
The report by the AP continued saying ”
Top security officials in the administration of then-President Umaru Yar’Adua, a Muslim, released the rounded-up men shortly after their arrests, with some facing a few hasty sham trials, the Nigerian official said.
One of those men was Babagana Ismail Kwaljima, also known as Abu Summaya, who was arrested again days before the Aug. 26 bombing at the U.N. compound in Abuja that killed at least 23 people, the Nigerian official said. Kwaljima is accused of helping mastermind the U.N. bombing. A second man was also arrested and police are looking for a third with “al-Qaida links” who recently traveled in Somalia, where an al-Qaida-linked group called al-Shabab is battling the beleaguered U.N.-backed government.
Kwaljima is being held at a military base in Nigeria, according to Nigeria’s secret police. The agency previously arrested him in October 2007 in the northern city of Kano during a roundup of suspected members of al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb operating in the country, the official who spoke to AP said. AQIM, as the group is known, generally operates in Saharan nations north of Nigeria.
Suspected Pakistani members of al-Qaida were arrested in October 2007 along with members of AQIM, the official said. He did not provide numbers of people arrested. News reports that emerged in November 2007 about arrests in the area also did not specify numbers, but identified the men as Nigerians. No foreigners were mentioned.
The official told AP that AQIM was planning to carry out terror attacks against targets in the United States and the Pakistanis were plotting terror attacks against U.S. citizens working in Nigeria, which is divided into a mainly Christian south and Muslim north.
“They were caught with explosive devices and other ammunitions. Some of them were also caught with large amount of cash,” the Nigerian official said.
The report also mentioned that the car used in the U.N. bombing was registered in the same area of Kano state where the terror suspects had been arrested only four years earlier.
The Associated Press said the Nigeria’s intelligence agencies abandoned a U.S.-assisted anti-terrorism program in late 2007 known as “Focal Point,” which saw the Nigerian government set up units in major cities to monitor suspected terrorists, the Nigerian official said. The units fell apart as agencies stocked them with friends who took advantage of trips, leaving the job of tracking suspects to local police authorities who knew nothing about the cases, the official said.
“Many saw the centers as opportunity for ‘their boys’ to go on overseas trips and make money,” the official said.
It is perhaps worth mentioning that there have been rumors and reports of fear of the outlawed sect Boko Haram amongst Judges and recently after the UN bombing the President was given more security. Also just on August 30th, the Kano State Governor cowered to the demands of the Boko Haram by ordering the security agencies in the state to release suspected members of the Boko Haram, as well as other sect members who are currently in their custody.
Kwankwaso declared that at no time did the state government ever authorize any security agency to arrest or detain any member of any religious group.
“As a government, we consider all Islamic and Christian religious sects the same. It is the duty of government to embrace all religious groups toward peaceful coexistence among citizens,”.
Governor Rabiu Kwankwaso further said the state government was unaware of the alleged arrest of any member of any religious group, neither did the state government ordered the detention of members of the Islamist group.
“But if there is any member of the sect in detention, I am hereby calling on the security agencies to either release or charge such person to court within the time stipulated by the Constitution,” he said.
Although the Governor stated that the Government seeks to embrace all religious groups toward peaceful coexistence among citizens,”. It begs the question whether violence by any religious group should be condoned in the name of “peaceful coexistence” and one wonders why the Governor would release members of a sect that the FG is trying it best to round-up and bring to justice as soon as possible.