13 December 2012

Nigeria: Gas Explosion Spreads Panic At Defence Headquarters

Photo: Leadership
Nigerian Defence Hqtrs

The Defence Headquarters was yesterday thrown into panic following a loud bang which prompted people within the vicinity to run for cover.

According to an eye witness, officers, men, and women who work in the building, as well as visitors, were going about their normal businesses when all of a sudden a loud bang was heard and the whole place was thrown into confusion.

"We were all busy doing our work when, like a bolt from the blue, we heard 'gbooaaa' and some hurried out to know what was happening while others ran for cover. Those that were at the gate passing through the screening process ran back, thinking it was terrorists that were at work, but later on, we got to know that it (the blast) was from the restaurant where a gas (cylinder) exploded,' the source said.

The source, however, said that calm was restored in a matter of minutes, and the management of the restaurant was instructed to be more careful to prevent a repeat of such a scenario.

The Defence Headquarters, in a statement yesterday, confirmed the incident but said there was no casualty.

"At about 1:30pm today (yesterday), there was an explosion at the Defence Headquarters restaurant kitchen. The explosion was caused by the mishandling of a gas cylinder during refilling process. There was no loss of life or damage to property," the statement, signed by Group Captain A. Makun, said.

Since the Boko Haram sect started terrorist attacks on government establishments in the country, the military has been keeping an eagle eye on the Defence headquarters where all the military top brass work. Visitors undergo a thorough screening and those without proper invitations are turned back at the gate.

Defence chief urges JTF to abide by rules

The Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Admiral Ola Ibrahim, yesterday urged personnel of the Joint Task Force (JTF) to abide by the 'rules of engagement'.

Ibrahim, who made the call when he visited the JTF in Maiduguri, Borno State, also warned the operatives to be very vigilant in their assignment.

He told them: "Don't let down your guard; if you do, it will lead to harm. In a disorderly society, no progress can be made; you are here to restore order."

Ibrahim spoke after a one-hour closed-door meeting with the commander and other senior officers at the JTF headquarters.

He reminded the officers that they were playing a very important role in the effort to restore peace to Borno State and assured them of adequate support.

The defence chief further urged them to protect law abiding people of the state, as well as respect their fundamental human rights as they go about their lawful activities.

"The crisis you are managing here, there is international dimension to it. Be polite to the people: respect their rights - do not violate them; handle suspects in a professional manner," he counseled them.

The Inspector-General of Police, Mr Mohammed Abubakar, who was on the entourage of the CDS, also urged the troops to carry out their tasks in the right manner, as they were being monitored by international community and the media.

"Be mindful of your activities as we are in a computer age," Abubakar said. The entourage later visited the state governor, Dr. Kashim Shettima, and thanked him for his support to the JTF.

Ibrahim told Shettima that the situation in Borno was not a challenge to only the state, but to the entire country.

He urged youths in the state to channel their energy to productive ventures rather than the production of arms and destruction of lives.

In his response, the governor said he was not in support of the call to withdraw the JTF from the state. He, however, revealed that human rights desks had been set up in the state Ministry of Justice to address complaints of abuses by personnel of the task force.

COAS tasks army on internal security

Meanwhile, the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Azubuike Ihejirika, yesterday called on the Nigerian Army to re-dedicate itself to tackling the country's current security challenges.

Ihejirika made the call during the graduation of students of Warrant Officers' Course 21 at the Warrant Officers' Academy, Jaji, Kaduna.

The army chief reminded the officers that the Nigerian Army had no room for indiscipline, and that they were expected to contribute to the efficient administration of their units. He also reminded them of their total loyalty to civil political authority.

"You must rededicate yourselves to duty and your loyalty must never be in doubt. In this period of political dispensation, where there is absolute military subordination to civil authority, your loyalty to the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces must not be in doubt," Ihejirika said.

Represented by the Commandant, Nigerian Army Peace Keeping Centre, Brig.-Gen. John Zaruwa, the COAS said that the Warrant Officers Academy was established to rejuvenate the officers' cadre "which was observed to be lagging behind in professional standards".

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