Bomb explosion rocks Thisday offices in Abuja, Kaduna

Bomb explosions targeted at the media, particularly Thisday Newspapers, have killed at least eleven people in Abuja and Kaduna.

The explosions which occurred simultaneously Thursday morning rocked Thisday office in Abuja and another location near its office in Kaduna.

Just while rescue was ongoing in Abuja, the explosion in Kaduna went off. The Kaduna explosion occurred in Kontagora Road by Ahmadu Bello Way, Kaduna, Kaduna at a building housing some media houses which included Thisday, The Sun and The Moment.

The site of the explosion in Kaduna is popular for vendors and newspaper distributors. Many news organizations have small offices around the area. The suspect allegedly threw in the device but was captured by witnesses while escaping the scene. He was later handed in to the police.

Eyewitnesses put the casualty rate from the Kaduna bomb blast at 10 but the spokesperson of the Kaduna state police command, Aminu Lawan, said the police have confirmed only one death so far.

Security agencies are yet to determine whether the explosion in Abuja Office of Thisday was a case of suicide bombing or a planted device within the office.

But the Chairman, Editorial board of ThisDay, Segun Adeniyi, said two security men and the suicide bomber died in the attack. He added that five other support staff sustained injuries in the attack.

“The suicide bomber came in a jeep,” he said.

“They (security men) opened the gate for them. We can’t find out now why they opened the gate because they are now dead. The guy drove in through the gate and rammed into the building and exploded,”  he explained.”Fortunately the newsroom is a bit far from the back of the building. So all the people in the newsroom especially the advert people are all safe.

The National Emergency Management Agency issued a statement  saying its preliminary investigation seems to indicate that the explosive device was planted somewhere within the premises, not likely a case of suicide bombing.

Although no group has claimed responsibility for the bombings, it is widely believed to be the handiwork of the dreaded Boko Haram sect that claimed responsibility for similar attacks in the past, including the United Nation’s building bombing last year.

Targeting the Media

In January, the Boko Haram sect complained about bad press from some media houses and issued a warning it would strike if that kind of reporting continued.

A ThisDay staff admitted the company got a telephone warning in January about their reporting of the sect’s activities. 

The media organization subsequently reported the threat to Nigerian security agencies and applied new security drills for staff and visitors. The front entrance to the premises was locked and staff and visitors were only allowed in through the back end.

The sect complained of consistent negative profiling by the media and reports suggesting it had splinter groups.

A source told Premium Times that the sect is also angry about reports blaming it for extrajudicial killings by the police and officials of the Joint Task Forces, overseeing security in some of the northern states.

“The sect is especially unhappy that the media has allowed itself to be manipulated by the government,” our source said. “For instance, the Tribune recently wrote that Abu Qaqa had been killed and that Abubakar Shekau was almost captured.”

Usual condemnation

The usual condemnation that follow such attacks have started pouring in. The deputy senate president, Ike Ekweremadu, who is holding forte for the convalescing senate president, is among the first to condemn the attack.

“An attack on the media is an attack on the very fabric of the conscience of our society and the fulcrum of our unity, democracy, and good governance which every Nigerian must stand up against,” he said.

President Goodluck Jonathan who received the news in Abidjan, Cote D’Ivoire described the attack as “ignoble, misguided, horrendous and wicked.”

The President who is attending an Extra-Ordinary Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) on the situation in Mali and Guinea-Bissau,urged media practitioners not to be dissuaded from carrying out their fearless campaign for peace, justice and equity as democracy cannot flourish without press freedom.

He traditionally pledged to ensure that “criminal elements bent on instilling fear in the minds of Nigerians and foreigners will not succeed.”

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