The Nigeria Police Force Headquarters has received intelligence reports that there are plots to bomb more political rallies ahead of the re-scheduled general elections.
This is coming after the recent bomb blasts in Rivers and Gombe states.
On Tuesday, a policeman was killed and 50 other people were injured when bomb explosions and gunshots rocked the All Progressives Congress governorship campaign rally at Okrika National Secondary School in Rivers.
Three Improvised Explosive Devices were said to have been set off by yet-to-be identified persons during the rally.
Similarly, about three weeks ago in Gombe, two suicide bombers attacked an area close to where the Peoples Democratic Party’s presidential candidate, President Goodluck Jonathan, had just held a campaign rally.
The two attackers died in the explosion, while 18 people were injured.
Last month, two offices of the APC in Okrika and Andoni Local Government Areas in Rivers were bombed.
The Force Public Relations Officer, Emmanuel Ojukwu, told SUNDAY PUNCH that police investigations showed that it had become easier for people to make bombs through the Internet.
Ojukwu told our correspondent that the ease with which people now have access to information on how to make violent attacks involving the use of explosives to disrupt political gatherings should be expected to increase.
“Police investigations on the Rivers incident are still on-going. As we are now witnessing, the level of violence has increased worldwide and its intensity too.
“We have the ISIS and al Qaeda who are taking on the world with their terrorist activities. Today, these groups have equipped interested people on how to make bombs through the Internet. So, we expect that more people will take advantage of that to wreak havoc at campaign rallies,” the police spokesman said.
He urged political parties, candidates and their supporters to be more vigilant when organising and attending any large political gathering.
“It is the collective responsibility of everyone to be security-conscious. Political parties and their supporters need to pay more attention when rallies are being organised. As the police, we have the duty to secure lives and property and we will continue to do our best to deal with this kind of situation,” Ojukwu said.
Also speaking on the recent bomb attacks at political campaigns, the Public Relations Officer of the Explosive Ordinance Disposal Unit, Mr. Gbolahan Moronfolu, stated that the police was well-equipped to handle any situation when called upon.
“The unit is adequately equipped. I can assure you of that as the Inspector-General of Police (Suleiman Abba) has always shown commitment to ensuring that public safety comes first. In my unit, we also embark on awareness campaigns to acquaint people on how they can be security conscious,” Moronfolu said.
Speaking on the development, a security expert, Simon Udie, warned that the use of explosive devices would continue to increase as long as the two major political parties, APC and PDP, keep making inflammatory remarks.
“They should focus more on what they have for the people. It’s curious that it’s the same people they want to rule or serve that they are attacking. The two major rival parties need to stop making comments that will increase violence.
“The free access to the Internet isn’t the only reason why we’re experiencing bomb attacks. These explosive devices are already in the country; you can understand this from the point of view of Boko Haram insurgents using explosives freely. You can also understand this trend considering how easy it was for the Niger Delta militants to blow up things,” Udie told SUNDAY PUNCH.
Another security expert, Segun Elijah, while warning that more bomb attacks should be expected, noted that more worrisome was the fact that nobody has been brought to book.
“All those things (bomb explosions and gun attacks) are expected. CLEEN Foundation and other security and election-monitoring organisations in their threat analysis of the 2015 elections, stated that 14 states will boil based on their predictions. As for the use of explosives, Nigeria has been long vulnerable to that threat because of porous borders, the poorly regulated mining industry (cement companies and quarries) where explosives are used on industrial scales.
“And the violence is going to escalate because the PDP-led government has harnessed all the security apparatuses that can deter, detect, deny, and delay the use and users of bombs. I’m talking about the Police, the Department of State Services that gathers intelligence, and the National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki, whose office controls the importation of explosives. In summary, desperation of politicians and partisanship of the security agencies will keep the cauldron of violence boiling till March 28-and even beyond,” Elijah said.
The Secretary, American Society of Industrial Security (Lagos chapter), Prof. Femi Adegbulu, advised politicians and other organisers of large gatherings to “sweep” the venue of the event a day before by bringing security experts who will employ various gadgets to search for any explosives and other dangerous objects.
He also added that few hours or minutes before the event holds, another check should be conducted around the arena.
Last week, SUNDAY PUNCH reported that some chieftains of the major opposition party had resorted to making private security arrangements. These arrangements included engaging private security guards (some of which allegedly carry arms) as well as beefing up security in and around their homes and offices.
Asked what the APC is doing to forestall further occurrence of bomb blast at rallies, its National Spokesperson, Mr. Lai Mohammed said, “Let’s call a spade a spade, you journalists should tell the PDP and the Federal Government to call their thugs of war to order. Their intolerance is getting too high. We can’t tell our members and supporters not to attend rallies or to come to a rally with a cross or rosary. Why should it be impossible to hold a rally in a local government in Rivers because the President’s wife comes from there?”
The National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Mr. Olisa Metuh, however, said his party had sought the help of security agencies in forestalling a re-occurrence of the ugly incidence.
He, however, called on all political parties to reign in their members and supporters against violence adding that if this is done, there would be an end to political violence in the land.
“We in the PDP are committed to having a free and peaceful election. But we call on other political parties to rein in their members. There will be no such thing as violence if this is done. We want people to know that the coming elections will be free and peaceful.”
Responding to the allegation from his APC counterpart, Metuh said, “The opposition in the last couple of years has been full of frivolous allegations. We are keeping it free. The people know who is violent and who is not.”