7 February 2013

Nigeria: The Parcel Meant for Okonjo-Iweala


Following a tip-off, the police anti-bomb squad this Monday defused a big parcel suspected to have contained an explosive and addressed to the minister of finance and coordinating minister for the economy, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.

There are different accounts about the origin of the object deposited in front of the NIPOST office in Area 10, Garki, FCT Abuja, but all point to a man who, three days earlier, had conveyed it in a wheelbarrow probably after the close of work. However, there should be no uncertainty about the sanity of the suspect: anyone who could convey a parcel addressed to someone else to a post office couldn't have belonged to a psychiatric home.

Commissioner of police Aderenle Shinaba has stated that there was no explosive in the object and even gone further to claim that "there is no bomb anywhere in Abuja today". We hope his statement was meant to reassure residents of the area who had been terrified both by the presence of the strange parcel and the loud explosion heard when it was being defused.

The whole truth has not been told. Can we reasonably believe that "there is no bomb anywhere in the FCT" as Shinaba claimed? Who dropped the parcel by the gate of NIPOST and why? Was Minister Okonjo-Iweala's name on the parcel or not?

It is obvious that the finance minister is being targeted by persons who have an axe to grind with her - or perhaps the government. Two months ago, her 83-year-old mother was kidnapped and kept for five days without food or water. And the kidnappers did not hide their identity - those being prosecuted for stealing fuel subsidy funds.

When, therefore, a strange parcel is addressed to the same woman, it is normal for Nigerians to be suspicious. After all, a parcel bomb had killed another important Nigerian on the Nigerian soil more than 26 years ago.

There is need to further tighten security around the finance minister. But she must not succumb to intimidation or threats from persons with dark motives. If anything, the judiciary should expedite action on all cases involving corruption and deliver justice to the suspects.

Every Nigerian's security should also be important to our security agents. One message to be picked from the Okonjo-Iweala bomb scare is that parcel bombs could still be used to kill targeted Nigerians. Judging by the poor attitude of civil servants towards their work, we believe it is possible for a bomb-laden parcel to be delivered to an innocent victim through NIPOST.

Are private courier companies now more watchful? Police commissioner Shinaba's claim that bombs were lacking in Abuja was false. This time calls for vigilance on the part of everyone.

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