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9 OTHER SUSPECTS, LINKS BLAST TO OKAH

By NBF News

The State Security Service (SSS), yesterday confirmed the arrest of nine persons linked with the bomb blasts that killed 12 persons, outside the Eagle Square, Abuja, venue of the Golden Jubilee Independence Anniversary ceremonies.

The SSS Assistant Director, Publicity, Marilyn Ogar, who made the disclosure while addressing journalists in Abuja, also said, if drastic security measures had not been taken by men of the service and other security operatives, key buildings, including the presidential villa, would have been hit by the perpetrators of the bombings.

'The despicable act of terrorism which eventually took place on October 1, was planned for Wednesday 29 September 2010, but was foiled as soon as the information was received during the early hours of September 28, ' said Ogar.

According to her, aside Aso Rock, the National Assembly building, and the headquarters of the SSS were also targeted for destruction.

Prior to the arrest of the suspects, the police had earlier said they were holding one suspect, a foreigner, and hunting down two Nigerians suspected to be the masterminds of the attacks, but it was not clear if they were among the nine.

Okah, the former leader of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), was arrested on Saturday in Johannesburg, the day after the bombings, which occurred less than a kilometre from the venue of Nigeria's 50th independence celebrations.

In statements credited to MEND, the group had claimed responsibility for the bombings. Ogar said the arrested suspects 'have direct links to Henry Okah, not MEND.' Okah, who resides in Johannesburg, remained has been in police custody in South Africa after a court postponed his bail hearing to October 14.

Narrating how the SSS foiled, which she described as an act of terrorism, Ogar said: 'On Tuesday, 28th September, 2010 at about 0130 hours, information was received that the three arms zone was to be bombed and six vehicles had already prepared for the purpose. Consequently, the Service contacted the military, which provided three towing trucks, which were added to that of the Service and immediately, joint operations started.

'A total of nine abandoned vehicles were towed away. Two of the vehicles were abandoned near the SSS headquarters; two of them faced the gate of the presidential and the National Assembly; two were close to the Police Force Headquarters, and one at the Eagle Square. Two others were at the Apo Legislative Quarters. They were all towed away,' Mrs Ogar narrated.

The Assistant Director further explained; ' these efforts which lasted till the morning of 1st October, saw 65 abandoned vehicles removed. Out of the seven vehicles abandoned from the three arms zone, four are still yet to be collected.

'When the plan A of the group was foiled, they resorted to the penetration of the Eagle Square in an attempt to plant explosive devices. However, the Service deployed hi-tech equipment in and around the Eagle Square and jammed the detonation of any such explosives.

'On 1st October, 2010, the Eagle Square and its environs were effectively cordoned-off and appropriate measures were put in place by the combined security and law enforcement agencies 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 gained access to park on the road side as well'

The security agency further said, 'some unscrupulous prominent elements in the society' have links in the blast adding, the Service likewise lost an Assistant Director, Human Development in the blast while three of its operatives are in critical conditions.