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September 05, 2011

Nigeria Asking for Public Help, Patience in Fighting Terrorism

Nigeria is asking the public for more help and more patience in the fight against terrorism following the bombing of United Nations headquarters in the capital, Abuja and more terror-related arrests on Tuesday. 

Security has been the biggest challenge in the first hundred days of President Goodluck Jonathan as intelligence services search for the mastermind of the U.N. bombing who they are linking to al-Qaida-affiliated terrorists in Somalia.  At least 23 people were killed in that attack.

On Tuesday, Nigeria's secret police said they have arrested six people linked to a radical Islamic sect suspected of bombing an elections office and a church earlier in the year.   Authorities also said they had discovered a bomb-making factory near the town of Suleija.  

Briefing reporters on the progress of the investigation into the U.N. headquarters bombing, Information Minister Labaran Maku says the government needs time to end the threat by Muslim extremists just as it ultimately ended the threat from militants in the oil-rich Niger Delta.

“This latest threat that has come on board which is new, we call for understanding and patience of Nigerians as the president and the security team continue to work on finding lasting solutions to these problems,” Maku noted.

The Jonathan administration's campaign to gain greater public support for its fight against terrorism includes a series of public service announcements urging Nigerians to come forward with information about the attacks.

“Nigeria is not at war, it is a country of peaceful people..,” said one public service announcement.

The television and radio messages ask parents to account for their children, saying of the past few months of violence: Enough is Enough.

Another one said, "Nigerian women say no to wanton killing of innocent people.  It is against our religions and cultures.  It is not in our character. Let us build a nation where justice and peace shall reign.  This message is brought to you by the office of the first lady, Federal Republic of Nigeria.”

In a capital under limited curfew, workers are installing hundreds of solar-powered closed-circuit television cameras to better monitor public places including Abuja's main square and its international airport.

The assistant commissioner of police for the Federal Capital Territory, Wilson Inalegwu, says the public is an important part of refocusing security forces on terrorism. “The government is on top of the situation. Security agencies are on top of the situation. And it is a clarion call redefining our policing priority, getting to understand what is happening,” he said.

Inalegwu says Nigerian police are working to be more responsive to members of the public who come forward with information. “We are close to our community, and I think our community trusts us," Inalegwu stated. "And because they trust us, we are having regular interface either formally or informally.”

President Jonathan says a review of national security to lay greater emphasis on intelligence gathering and civilian participation in surveillance will “expose, contain and defeat this network of terror and its sponsors.”