JONATHAN VISITS BOMBED BUILDING
Top United Nations officials, including the world body's security chief, are expected in Nigeria today as investigators commenced on-site probing of Friday's dastardly suicide bombing at the United Nations House in Abuja. A team from America's Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) also arrived the country yesterday.
Agency reports quoted the UN spokesman in Nigeria, Charles Nosa Osazuwa, as saying: 'They are arriving tonight,' but he declined to provide further details. The UN building houses about 26 agencies and departments of the global body, with hundreds of employees from different countries.
Friday's incident was among the bloodiest attacks targeting the UN globally. Official figures say no fewer than 18 lives were lost with over 40 others injured. But unconfirmed sources say the casualty figure is about 150 with about 20 children in a crÃ¨che located in the building still unaccounted for.
A source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, faulted the casualty figure declared so far.
He said it was actually more than 18 and challenged the government to reveal the number of dead victims.
'Dr David Edward, a young and brilliant Nigerian U.S.-based medical practitioner (who has a 10-year-old son) and who had just flown in from the U.S for the programme, was one of the speakers at the conference on the third floor of the UN building. He was speaking at the conference when the bomb went off and he died instantly.
'They say only 18 people died. This is not true. Out of the 300 people that attended that conference on the third floor of the UN building, at least 150 were killed. And yet they tell you that only 18 people died. This is ungodly and it is disrespectful to those who had to pay the supreme price and lost their lives.
'In the National Hospital mortuary alone, over 100 dead bodies were deposited and many other bodies were rushed to other mortuaries in Abuja. Please you can go and ask those that work at Abuja National Hospital if you doubt this.
'What about the 20 children that were killed in the crÃ¨che? There was no mention of them by the media or our government either. What type of country is this? These 150 people are not being honoured in death because no one knows that they were killed as well. They have not even been acknowledged as a number let alone by name. Is it now a crime to tell the world the amount of harm, evil and damage that Boko Haram has carried out? We lost many innocent souls yesterday (Friday) and not just the 18 that is being reported in the press. The Nigerian people have a right to know the truth and this government had better start getting serious about security before it is too late and the whole country falls apart. Boko Haram must be crushed. It must be wiped out,' the source, a former top government official, lamented.
On Friday, the Islamic fundamentalist sect, Boko Haram, claimed responsibility for the attack. But it was gathered that extremist terrorist group, Al-Qaeda, is also being fingered for the attack. Boko Haram had not been known to target international organisations but there have been growing concerns that it had links with the North Africa wing of Al-Qaeda.
Yesterday afternoon, President Goodluck Jonathan visited the scene of the blast and assured the UN Secretary General, Mr Ban Ki-Moon and the international community that Nigeria was on top of the situation.
Speaking with journalists in an emotion-laden voice after being conducted round the scene for more than 20 minutes, the President, who was clad in a brown long sleeve shirt with brown chinos trousers and brown face cap, commiserated with the UN and families of the victims.
He restated his government's commitment to deal with the sporadic and more frequent occurrence of bombings across the country. Jonathan condemned suicide bombing and related criminality that are now of international concern, adding that he has been contacted by most world leaders in the last 24 hours who have not seen Nigeria in isolation in these dastardly acts. The President however assured that the federal government was on top of the situation and that he was in touch with world leaders to see how to bring terrorism under control not only in Africa but also in the world.
'One thing is very clear. Terrorist attack on any individual or any group is a terrorist attack to the rest of the world. It is not just about the UN office in Nigeria. 'We will work with the UN and all the world leaders. Of course, many of them have contacted me between yesterday (Friday) and today (Saturday) on how to bring terrorism under control,' he said. Reacting to a question on the damage the incident may have done to Nigeria's image, the President insisted that terrorism had become a global issue, adding that Nigeria must not be treated as an isolated case.
'Many countries have suffered from terrorists attacks in the past and, probably, it is the turn of Nigeria. But we are on top of the situation and we will bring it under control,' he said. The President, who arrived the UN House at 12.02 hours in company of his aides, was received by the National Security Adviser, General Andrew Owoeye Azazi, Ministers of Information, Labaran Maku, Police Affairs, Caleb Olubolade, International Affairs, Abah Moro and Ministers of State for Foreign Affairs and Defence, Mrs Olusola Obada.