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July 16, 2014

'Mastermind' of Abuja Blast Back in Nigeria

by Heather Murdock

Nigerian security forces have taken custody of a former army intelligence officer who is accused of "masterminding" a bombing in the capital that killed dozens of people. 

In the early hours of April 14, the Nyanya bus station on the outskirts of Abuja was filled with commuters headed to the center of town for work when two bombs detonated.  At least 71 people were killed and hundreds more injured.
 
The blasts were the first in the capital in two years and by far the most deadly in the city's history.  
 
Nigerian security forces arrested five suspects in May, saying two others, "the masterminds," were at large.  
 
State Security Services spokesperson Marilyn Ogar said one of those suspects, Aminu Sadiq Ogwuche, was returned to Nigeria on Tuesday.  
 
"Security forces took delivery of Aminu Sadiq Ogwuche who has been extradited from the Sudanese government and has been taken into custody.  The investigation is going to continue and I think very soon he will be charged to court also," he announced.
 
Ogwuche is the British-born son of a retired Nigerian army colonel.  He has previously been arrested on terrorism-related charges.

​​Officials said the arrest was a major win for Nigerian security forces, which have been criticized heavily for failing to rescue more than 200 girls kidnapped in the north on the same day as the Nyanya bombing.
 
Militant group Boko Haram claimed responsibility for the bombing and kidnapping the girls.  The group says it wants to impose a strict version of Islamic law on Nigeria and has been blamed for thousands of deaths this year alone.
 
Since the Nyanya bombing, two other bombings in Abuja have claimed dozens of lives and raised fears that Boko Haram's reach is expanding beyond the northeast, where three states have been under emergency rule for more than a year.
 
"The fight against insurgency and the effort to get our girls back is top priority of the government of Nigeria.  Besides that, this is also evidence that the armed forces of Nigeria and security services and all agencies are working hard to put this thing behind us as a nation," said Nigeria National Information Center Coordinator Mike Omeri.
 
Another alleged mastermind of the bombing, Rufai Abubakar Tsiga, remains missing and the Nigerian government has offered a $150,000 reward for information leading to his arrest.