President Goodluck Jonathan sought to reassure Nigerians yesterday that he was stepping up security to prevent more bomb attacks like the one which devastated U.N. offices in Abuja lst week, but many people were sceptical that any measures would succeed.
A car bomber drove explosives into the U.N. headquarters in Abuja on Friday, killing 23 people.
The attack was claimed by the Islamist sect Boko Haram, whose name means “Western education is sinful” in the northern Nigerian Hausa language. It has been blamed for almost daily shootings or attacks with homemade bombs against security services and civilians in the remote northeast.
“The President wishes to reassure all citizens and foreigners…his administration is taking every necessary action to enhance national security,” his office said in an statement to mark the Muslim Eid-al-Fitr holiday.
The bomb on Friday gutted a floor, smashed nearly all of the windows and wounded 76 people, U.N. officials said, in one of the worst attacks on the United Nations in its history.
“President Jonathan has directed the security services to rapidly evolve…additional security, intelligence-gathering and counter-terrorism measures,” the statement said.
It gave no further details.
Jonathan and his security services have refused to be drawn on who could have carried out the attack, seen by many as an embarrassing security breach for the government.
The reaction from Abuja residents to Jonathan’s statement was lukewarm, with some questioning security forces’ abilities.
“Assurances are not enough: we have heard many assurances in the past from top officials and the security situation is getting worse,” said Abuja lawyer Bello Adigun, 46.
“We need concrete actions. We need security agencies that are proactive, that can nip these things in the bud”.
Inspector-General of Police Hafiz Ringim told diplomats that a number of arrests had already been made in connection with the bomb, but gave no details. He also offered diplomats whatever special security coverage they required.
“We want to see results from these efforts because the current insecurity gives the impression that governmnent is doing nothing to secure our lives,” said businessman Martin Aduale, 52.
Violence in the ethnically and religiously mixed city of Jos killed 13 people on Monday , creating yet another headache for Nigeria’s stretched security services.