Friday, May 2, 2014 8:36 pm
All government offices and schools in Abuja would be closed down between Wednesday 7 May and Friday 9 May, as part of security measures for the World Economic Forum on Africa scheduled to begin next next week.
The closure was on the orders of President Goodluck Jonathan, hoping that the traffic on Abuja roads will be freer during the conference.
Senator Pius Anyim, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation who announced this in a statement however said offices performing essential services are not expected to be part of the closure.
The government said private organisations with large number of staff may also close down their operations if they also wish to do so.
A copy-cat bombing in Nigeria’s capital that killed 19 people and wounded scores more has raised fears of Boko Haram’s growing strength, just days before Abuja hosts a major world summit.
A car bomb at the Nyanya bus station on the outskirts of the capital exploded late Thursday just 50 metres from the site of an April 14 blast that killed 75 people, the deadliest attack ever in Abuja.
Boko Haram Islamists, who have killed thousands in a five-year uprising, claimed responsibility for the previous bombing and were suspected of carrying out the latest attack.
Two deadly blasts within three weeks just a few kilometres from the seat of government have sparked security concerns over the World Economic Forum on Africa meet set to open on May 7, which includes a visit from Chinese Premier Li Keqiang.
“Our existing security arrangements are robust,” WEF said in a statement about the conference dubbed the “African Davos. There are no plans to make any changes to the programme or content of the meeting,” it added, offering sympathy for the victims.
Boko Haram analyst Shehu Sani, who has written extensively on religious violence in Nigeria, said the twin Abuja bombings were intended “to send a clear message to the Nigerian government”.
The Islamists wanted to demonstrate that “they can hit anytime and any place at their own choosing”, Sani told AFP. “They are trying to show how weak and incompetent the security forces are.”
Police said the bomb killed 19 people and National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) spokesman Manzo Ezekiel told AFP that 80 others were injured.
Three undetonated explosive devices were discovered at the scene, police spokesman Frank Mba said, suggesting the toll could have been much higher had the other bombs gone off.
Much of Boko Haram’s recent violence has targeted the remote northeast, the group’s historic base, where more the 1,500 people have been killed already this year.
Before April 14, Abuja had not been significantly hit by Boko for more than two years and Sani said the timing of the latest unrest may not have been coincidental.
“The insurgents had a long-term plan of attacking targets outside (the northeast),” he said.
“They may be taking the opportunity to show that even the World Economic Forum can be disrupted.”