30 March 2014

Nigeria: Abuja Attack - President Jonathan Is Safe and Well - Presidency

The prolonged gun battle around the headquarters of the Department of State Services and the presidential villa did not endanger President Goodluck Jonathan in any way, a presidential spokesperson has said.

The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Reuben Abati, said in a statement posted on his twitter handle [@abati1990] that Mr. Jonathan was unharmed in the shootout between the army and insurgents at the SSS headquarters.

The presidential villa, which has one of its gates overlooking the SSS headquarters, is a stone throw away from the scene of the attack.

"What happened at the SSS HQs has nothing to do with the Villa. President Jonathan is safe and well. Thank you for your concern & support," Mr. Abati said.

He added, "What happened at the SSS HQ this morning was an attempted jailbreak which has been effectively foiled. There is no cause for alarm."

The SSS issued a statement shortly after the attack claiming that the gun battle began after a detainee disarmed an operative and tried to effect a jailbreak.

But knowledgeable security sources are telling PREMIUM TIMES that the SSS narrative begs further questions because they are "untrue and misleading".

The sources frame their doubts around the presumed impenetrability of the DSS facility and headquarters; the unusually huge military intervention force; the quality of ordinance deployed; and the prolonged period of gun exchange.

"The truth is that a jailbreak is impossible in the SSS headquarters," one of our sources said."It has two fences and is highly fortified. And there is no way a man on handcuff could launch an attack vicious enough to disarm an operative.

"Also our people need to tell the world whether it was only one gun taken from the disarmed operative that the detainees used in engaging soldiers and SSS operatives in sustained gun battle for about three hours.

"If it is about subduing one man who attempted a jailbreak, why did we need truckloads of fully armed soldiers and deployment of Armoured Personnel Carriers, RPGs and other sophisticated weapons?

"Also, why did the exchange of fire lasted for so long? Why did we have to deploy helicopter gunships to hover around the villa and Yellow House (SSS headquarters).

"Nigerians should demand the truth. I can tell you that a more serious incident happened than our people are willing to admit and there is a serious attempt at cover-up."

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