In a curious admission of laxity, the State Security Service (SSS) has said that it received warnings more than 30 hours prior to last week’s Independence Day bombings in Abuja.
It, however, blamed the early morning rain for its lack of ability to prevent the deadly acts. The twin blasts, which killed 16 people, have triggered concerns about national security alertness after the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) claimed it sent warnings to state agencies five days ahead of the killings.
Initial plot foiled
The SSS said on Monday that it nipped an initial plot scheduled two days earlier -Wednesday- by evacuating vehicles around the Three Arms Zone, but said the perpetrators “apparently” mixed with motorists to plant the lethal cars, during the Friday morning rains.
The SSS, in a statement yesterday, said, “On 1st October 2010, the Eagles Square and its environs were effectively cordoned-off and appropriate measures were put in place to prevent any untoward incident. However, the rain showers of that morning provided the leeway for double parking by motorists. In the process, the perpetrators apparently gained access to park on the road side as well.”
Henry Okah, the alleged leader of the MEND, was charged in South Africa yesterday for terrorism, in connection with the bombings. The SSS said it has made nine arrests so far, and all have direct links with Mr. Okah, the incident, and some “unscrupulous prominent elements”. It said the names of their sponsors would not be released since the investigations are not completed.
The statement, signed by Marilyn Ogar, the agency’s assistant director of public relations, said the SSS, with its head office about one kilometre from the scene of the explosions, received its first intelligence on the bombings, three days earlier -on Tuesday, September 28, 2010, about 1.30pm.
“As soon as the information was received,” the agency said, it foiled the initial plot, which was billed for Wednesday, September 29, to scare foreign dignitaries from attending the October 1st Golden Jubilee celebrations.
In the warnings it received, the Three Arms Zone, which hosts the Presidency, the National Assembly, and the Supreme Court, is said to have been targeted for bombings. The Service said it contacted the military, which provided three towing trucks to be combined with those of the SSS, for the removal of vehicles around the area.
The operations lasted from 2.15pm to 6.30pm Tuesday, and nine “abandoned” vehicles were towed away, the Service said. Of these, two were near the SSS headquarters, two facing the villa gate and the NASS, two close to the Louis Edet police headquarters, one at the Eagle Square, and two around Apo legislative quarters.
“It is worthy of note that out of the seven vehicles removed from the Three Arms Zone, four are yet to be collected,” the statement continued.
The operation later extended to the Federal Road Safety Corps, with a mandate to remove unclaimed vehicles in other parts of the federal capital territory. That lasted till October 1st morning, and saw the removal of 65 vehicles, according to the agency.
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I have tried to stay away from anything political in nature on my blog but I came across this new detail and I couldn't help it....'security agency blames rain??...thats just some lame excuse. Its only in 9ja people give excuses for not doing their jobs well.....blames rain...funny...very funny....