Despite the “systematic” attack on media houses in Abuja and Kaduna, two major security agencies in Nigeria, the Nigerian police and the Nigerian Security and Civil Defense Corps (NSCDS) on Thursday claimed ignorance of any plot to attack media houses.
The two agencies spoke through senior officials at the premises of Thisday Newspaper in Abuja, where a bomb blast Thursday killed at least three people.
While stating that “it seems this is a systematic attack,” in a brief discussion with top officials of the newspaper house, Suleiman Fakai, Deputy Inspector General of Police, who led senior officials of the Nigerian police to the site, stated that he was not aware of any security or intelligence report to attack media houses.
“I don’t know [if there was an intelligence report about attacks on the media],”Mr. Fakai said.
The Police boss, while addressing journalists, also stated that the police could not confirm if it was Boko Haram who carried out the attacks saying that investigations were still ongoing.
“We cannot identify the victims. We assume it is a suicide bomber. I cannot confirm if it is Boko Haram, as we are still carrying out investigations,” he said.
On his part, Sulaiman Bello, Deputy Commandant General of the NSCDC stated that “we have no information [on attack on media houses]. We have some information we cannot disclose, but [attack on] media houses are not part of it.”
The Abuja bombing was carried out by a suicide bomber who drove an Isuzu Pick-up truck filled with explosives which rammed through the rear gate of the media house. At least two people, in addition to the suicide bomber, have been confirmed dead in the attack while several others are receiving treatment at different hospitals.
While rescuers where helping victims of the Abuja blast, another bomb blast occurred in the neighbouring northern state of Kaduna. The blast which occurred near the premises of a building housing Thisday Newspapers, The Sun Newspapers, and The Moment Newspapers, reportedly kill 10 people. The attack is believed to have also been carried out by the Boko Haram group.
Reactions trail bombings
Several Nigerians have reacted to the dual bombings in Abuja and Kaduna.
Former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, stated that “the attacks on media houses are a dangerous dimension to the insurgency in the country and government needs to be more creative in tackling the menace”.
Mr. Abubakar restated his earlier advice to Boko Haram to seek a peaceful solution to their “grievances”.
“It is also important that those behind these dastardly attacks show restraints, and explore other peaceful means of expressing their grievances.”
Deji Elumoye, the Chairman of the Lagos chapter of the Nigerian Union of Journalist described the bombing as “uncalled for and unwarranted’’.
“Our wonder is what those who planted the bomb hoped to achieve. If it is to silence the media, then they got it all wrong because the media will continue to condemn unnecessary attacks and killings in Nigeria, until we have the last man standing,” he said.
Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu described the attack as “grievous affront on the citizens of this country.” He urged the media not to be cowed but to continue to speak up against all acts of terrorism.
Senate President, David Mark, described the attack as “unjust, savage, dastardly and evil.” He advised media practitioners to “rise to the challenge of these devious attacks”.
“This is basically an assault on the freedom of the press which every journalist in our nation laboured to achieve,” he said.
The Muslim Media practitioners of Nigeria in a statement signed by its Chairman condemned the bombings saying, “bombings like these, killing innocent souls and destroying public property are evil. It has not solved any grievances in the past, now or never.”
The group advised media practitioners to “continue to uphold the tenets of the profession which includes balancing, objectivity and factual.”
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