The death toll from car bombs that exploded near a parade marking Nigeria’s 50th anniversary of independence rose to 12 yesterday and reports emerged that the government had been warned of the attack, but failed to act.
Abuja police spokesman Jimoh Moshoo said 12 people were confirmed dead and a further 17 injured in Friday’s blasts, which came about an hour after an e-mailed bomb threat from a rebel group in the oil-producing Niger delta.
Nigerian newspaper This Day, citing sources in Nigeria’s -presidency, said British intelligence had got wind of plans for an attack and passed on a warning to Abuja, but to no avail.
Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, who faces an election next year and who is from the impoverished delta region, has condemned the attacks by the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) and vowed to bring those behind them to justice.
Compounding suspicions of prior knowledge of the attack was a reported raid by South African security forces on the home of Henry Okah, a senior MEND figure in -Johannesburg, in the early hours of Friday morning.
Stratfor, a security consultancy, said the raid by 30 South African police was requested by the Nigerian authorities “after receiving word that the attacks in Abuja were imminent.”
It failed to uncover any incriminating evidence, Stratfor said.
News outlets including Reuters received the e-mailed bomb warning about an hour before the blasts. There was no reaction from security forces overseeing the lavish Independence Day celebrations at an Abuja parade ground.