Nigeria's opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), has claimed the country's "poor intelligence gathering" is responsible for the resurgence of terrorism that resulted in the bomb attacks in the federal capital Abuja on Friday 2 October. Terror group Boko Haram claimed responsibility for the bomb blasts that killed 18 people and injured 38.
The Abuja attacks occurred weeks after Nigerian intelligence warned the military had uncovered a plot by Boko Haram to attack the capital. The news came days after the country's intelligence warned dozens of people linked to the Islamist outfit had been arrested in Lagos, Nigeria's commercial hub, suggesting the insurgence could spread beyond the country's north.
However, the PDP accused the country's intelligence of focusing on political matters and urged President Muhammadu Buhari to overhaul the Department of State Services' management. Buhari, who vowed his administration would end terrorism in Nigeria, condemned the attacks and said they were timed to disrupt celebrations of Nigeria's 55th anniversary of independence. Prior to the suicide bombings in Abuja, dozens of people were killed in a series of blasts in Maiduguri, capital of restive Borno state and Boko Haram's birthplace.
Nigeria is heading a new task force against Boko Haram, consisting of 8,700 troops from Nigeria, Niger, Chad, Cameroon and Benin. The government also claimed Boko Haram is surrendering, but the group said in an audio message that claims made by government and army are false.
PDP's full statement
"The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) notes with deep sadness and concern, the resurgence of terrorism and renewed attacks on the Federal Capital Territory, with last Friday's bombings in Nyanya and Kuje satellite towns of the territory. That the Abuja coordinated attacks came just as the nation was already celebrating the success of our security forces in their efforts to rout terrorists, indicates either a fact of dereliction of duty or sabotage against the anti-terrorism fight. Whereas we have remained steadfast in our commitment to support each and every policy adopted by the government of President Muhammadu Buhari aimed at ending terrorism, especially knowing the importance of secured environment in achieving peaceful co-existence, an imperative for development.
"And whereas we are aware that a bomb is an ill-wind that blows no good to anybody in the community, scaring away potential investors, we are therefore duty bound to draw attention to certain grave factors, possibly leading to the unfortunate resurgence, which, if unchecked could worsen the ugly situation. Our checks reveal that poor intelligence gathering by the Department of State Services (DSS) and other relevant intelligence group is largely, if not directly responsible for the resurgence of terrorists, who have earlier been pushed to the precipices in the Sambisa forest in Borno state, to the extent that they have slipped back into other cities, including the nation's capital.
"From all indications, the DSS under the watch of the current Director- General, Alhaji Lawal Daura does not seem to be in full grip of the intelligence situation. This is apparently traceable to the avoidable distractions occasioned by the flagrant use of the agency for political assignments since the emergence of the new Director-General, in addition to the apparent administrative disharmony within the service, all resulting in the erosion of professionalism, harmony and loyalty among personnel. In the last few months, the DSS, instead of concentrating on its primary statutory duties of providing domestic intelligence, security service and criminal investigations for the state, has, under the new Director-General, directed all its energies on political matters; chasing after opposition elements, interfering in election tribunal activities, intimidating and hounding tribunal witnesses, while terrorists resurge, and combatant security forces left with scanty intelligence.
The situation with the DSS has become so pathetic that it could not even effectively analyze reported suspicious tweets "predicting the attacks" as a cue to forestall last Friday's attack in Abuja and other parts of the country. Indeed, our nation cannot afford a retrogression from the gains already made in the fight against terrorism due to the failure of a disorganized, improperly coordinated and distracted intelligence agency, that is not able to live up to its billing. It is on this note therefore that we urge President Buhari, as a matter of urgency, to take a critical look at the situation in the DSS, overhaul its management, administration and operations to ensure that the required leadership and spirit needed to operate optimally exists in the agency.
"We wish to note that our position is beyond politics. Security is a matter that concerns all Nigerians irrespective of political, religious and ethnic affiliation and must be taken seriously in the general interest of our dear nation. This nation belongs to all of us and we, as citizens and critical stakeholders must join hands, irrespective of our political differences, to ensure that we give the Federal Government the required support in the fight against terrorism in our country. A great nation is the dream and aspiration of every Nigerian and that was demonstrated just on Thursday, when the populace renewed their faith in the oneness and progress of the country during the 55th Independence anniversary celebration."
Signed: Prince Uche Secondus Acting National Chairman