Feeling not so secure, Babangida raised alarm over alleged plot to implicate him. Speaking through one Kassim Afegbua, who issued a statement in Abuja, the former dictator said: "General Ibrahim Babangida is utterly surprised at the deliberate ploy to link him with the spate of wanton bombings that have created palpable fear in the land. This, to him, amounts to sheer blackmail. It exposes the weakness in the system, if private persons and former leaders who are enjoying their retirement are being linked to acts of terrorism or bombings.
President Goodluck Jonathan has summoned the emergency meeting. Top of the agenda is the spate of bombings in the country, according to a source. For the meeting are the National Security Adviser (NSA), Gen. Owoye Azazi, the Service Chiefs, heads of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), the State Security Services (SSS) and Police chief Hafiz Ringim. The meeting is expected to hold at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
It was not clear when the President took the decision to summon the crucial meeting, which The Nation learnt may take "decisive" action on the bombings. The latest of the bombings occurred in Abuja on New Year Eve, killing four people and injuring 21. It was at a "Mammy market" near the Mogadishu Barracks of the Army.
Besides, the Movement of the Emancipation of Nigeria Delta (MEND), also yesterday, denied any involvement in the Mogadishu Barracks bombings.
US Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told Fox News that FBI agents had been dispatched to join in the investigation of the New Year Eve blasts, which killed a an expectant woman and three others. No fewer than 21 people were injured.
United States President Barack Obama condemned the explosions as "outrageous terrorists attacks". Napolitano said the attacks showed that the reach of international terrorism "knows no bounds".
"One thing I think it illustrates is that we live in a world where terrorism is part of the environment, unfortunately. And it’s something that we need to be thinking about; we need to be planning for," Napolitano said.
She said there was no evidence at the moment to suggest there was any connection to "anything in the United States". She said her department would be monitoring the situation in Nigeria closely. She said sending the FBI agents to assist Nigeria "is not all that uncommon", adding that the FBI is often asked to help with such investigations due to its expertise in evidence collection.
Apart from the Independence Day bombings, explosions also occurred in Jos on Christmas Eve. More than 80 people died. In Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital another blast occurred last Wednesday to the embarrassment of the government.
Security agencies and some foreign experts have started forensic analysis of bomb shreds and other items retrieved from the Mammy market in Mogadishu Cantonment.
It was also learnt that security agencies are probing the activities of some politicians. A team of ballistic, bomb and forensic experts visited the scene of the blasts yesterday. A highly-placed source, who spoke in confidence, said: "These experts are trying to determine the types of bombs that were detonated. They are seeking to establish whether these explosives are related to those being used by Al-Qaeda, MEND, or if they are locally made."
Besides, they will "also want to verify whether the shreds from the bombs have semblance of rockets recently seized from some Iranians in Apapa Port".
Many countries have offered to assist Nigeria to get to the roots of these explosions. One of them is Canada which described the spate of bombings in Maiduguri, Jos and Abuja as cowardly and despicable. The Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Lawrence Cannon, in a statement at the weekend said the bombings were direct attacks on the right of Nigerians to live in safety and peace.
"The Christmas Eve bombings in Jos and Maiduguri, committed by the radical Islamic terrorist group Jama’atu ahlus-Sunnah Lidda’awati wal Jihad, and the New Year’s Eve bombing in Abuja, committed by unknown perpetrators, were cowardly and despicable acts. "These bombings represent a direct attack on the right of the people of Nigeria to live in safety and peace. "Canada welcomes the Government of Nigeria’s determination to bring the perpetrators of these repugnant acts to justice.
"Canadians stand together with the Nigerian people in deploring these acts of terrorism. We will continue to assist the people and Government of Nigeria as they strive to improve security and consolidate democracy and the rule of law. Security agencies are also probing the activities and utterances of some politicians in the past few weeks," said the source, adding "Although there are fears that the polity might be heated up if these politicians are invited for questioning, nothing can be taken for granted again."
In his response, "General Babangida condemns in totality this act of criminality, which is gradually giving us a bad image and making us the attraction of the world for the wrong reasons. He is of the opinion that rather than play politics and trying to gain any political mileage with these heinous acts against humanity, government must take adequate and appropriate measures to rally round all stakeholders with a view to finding permanent solution to this growing crime.
"General Babangida is, therefore, suggesting that government should call for a stakeholder security summit with the purpose of identifying new methods and approaches that will be useful solutions to these disturbing trends. No sane Nigerian is at peace with what is presently going on in the country.
"The loss of innocent souls and helpless citizens of this great country should worry all of us. It should bother all of us to see Nigerians being slaughtered in such wanton manner, as if we were in a war situation. It is barbaric, reprehensible, condemnable, brutish and callous by every standard.
"It is a disturbing trend that must be given all the needed attention both by government and the citizenry in order to arrest the trend. It does not call for name-calling, buck-passing and blackmail. It is not an issue to play politics with. It is a collective responsibility. It requires the attention and participation of all to assist in getting the relevant information at the right time and use such intelligence information to achieve the desirable result of check-mating this growing insensitivity.
"General Ibrahim Babangida wishes to use this medium to remind Nigerians that he has served and invested so much in the growth and development of Nigeria that it would be unthinkable to link him to any act(s) that would tend to undermine constituted authority in the land.
"Among his years of service are 32 years in the military, including fighting at the war front to keep the country together, aside from serving as a military President for eight eventful and productive years. Those who are trying to blackmail former president General Babangida would not have had a country called Nigeria today, if he had not fought along with other patriots to sustain our nationality. He has been nursing injuries received at the war front since 1970 till date.
"We all should agree that there is failure in governance rather than passing the buck, or finding very idiotic and flimsy reasons to label some distinguished persons as being responsible for such failures.
"Having identified the problems, it will now dawn on us to collectively put our heads together to find appropriate solutions, bearing in mind that these criminals live among us. Government has a greater responsibility to jump-start the process of rallying everybody together.
"We must re-direct our effort as well as doubling our energies. Policing is a collective responsibility hence it will serve more useful purpose, if government decides to create a synergy between it and the populace to make the intelligence gathering aspect of security more encompassing. This will serve us better than this lazy recourse to name-calling and name-dropping for the sake of politics.
President Goodluck Jonathan has said with greater unity, support and prayers, his administration will overcome the challenge of terrorism and bombings and to move the nation along the path of growth and development.
The President spoke after visiting the victims of Abuja New Year’s Eve explosions recuperating at the Asokoro General Hospital yesterday. He also visited the scene of the blasts at the Mogadishu Cantonment in Abuja.
The President went round the wards where the injured persons were receiving treatment after he attended a New Year church service. He was accompanied by his wife, Patience.
While wishing the injured speedy recovery, Jonathan praised the military for keeping the casualty figures low by speedily evacuating the market after the first explosion. A second blast occurred later.
During the church service at the Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Maitama, President Jonathan said his New-Year wish was for all Nigerians to work together for national development with greater cohesion and unity of purpose.
He urged Nigerians "not to be discouraged by the bomb explosions which claimed the lives of innocent citizens in Abuja and Jos, saying the dastardly acts should not be allowed to distract the nation from its march towards sustainable growth and progress.
"There are always obstacles to progress, but with commitment and faith, we will overcome them and our nation will get to where it wants to go," President Jonathan told the congregation.
The President said his administration would continue to work hard to provide an enabling environment for rapid economic growth and development in the country, adding that power supply and other essential public infrastructure would continue to receive priority attention from his administration.
Responding to comments by Parish Priest Reverend Father Innocent Jooji, the President said he would continue to enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of the public service by ensuring that credible professionals are placed at the helm in key ministries.
Jonathan identified greed, insatiable accumulation of needless wealth and unprofessional conduct of those saddled with responsibilities as the root of Nigeria’s development barriers.
The President was accompanied by his mother and wife to the church service.
The President decried the desire by people in positions to accumulate so much money that they or their grand children cannot exhaust, saying it is the reason the citizen are lacking in the midst of plenty.
He said: "I agree that round pegs should be put in round holes. My administration has been putting professionals in core ministries. This is the first time that a health professional is heading the ministry of Health, the same with some other core ministries.
"However, what makes government to excel is not the professionalism of ministers but their integrity. What sets us backward as a nation is greed; where one person takes so much money that he and his grandchildren cannot finish spending. We should not accumulate what we do not need. We will do our best to select professionals but one thing we need is the credibility of the leaders."
Jonathan urged Nigerians to continue to pray for the country as well as have more faith in her so that the action of detractors, like those planting bombs, would not deter the country from its march to greatness.