Nigerians Said to Be Disappointed Yet Skeptical about Terror Allegations

Professor Kabiru Mato of the University of Abuja says the father of alleged terror bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab is a well respected individual


  • Professor Kabiru Mato of University of Abuja spoke with Butty

James Butty

A U.S. law enforcement official said an unruly passenger, another Nigerian, was detained Sunday when a Northwest Airlines flight landed in Detroit, Michigan.

But the man, a Nigerian businessman, was later declared not a security threat. 

The plane was on the same route and carried the same flight number 253 as the one on Friday, when a 23-year-old Nigerian Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab tried to light an explosive substance that had been strapped to his body.

Kabiru Mato, head of the political science department at the University of Abuja said Nigerians are disappointed and skeptical about the allegations against Abdulmutallab.

“I think the reaction in Nigeria is that of some extent disappointment and some extent casting very serious doubts on the ability of the young man to carry out the crime that he is being accused of,” he said.

Mato said while Nigerians are not doubting U.S. and other Western officials about the allegations against Abdulmutallab, they are at the same time worried that a young man from such a noble background could have been involved in the alleged plot to blow up an airliner.

He confirmed reports in some U.S. newspapers that Abdulmutallab’s father might have informed U.S. authorities some time back about the change in his son’s behavior.

“Papers today have reported that the father kept noticing some fundamental changes to such an extent that he informed the American authorities through their embassy here in Abuja on the apparent change in attitude from his own son,” Mato said.

Mato said Nigerians also learnt that after the young Abdulmutallab finished his engineering studies in England, he went to Dubai for additional studies in business administration after which he allegedly established a link with groups in Yemen.

He said the young Abdulmutallab might have been recruited by some extremist groups because of his well-organized and composed character.

Mato, who said he knows the Abdulmutallab family personally, said he has not been able to speak with the older Abdulmutallab since the arrest of his son.

“I have not been able to talk to the father. Personally it’s quite a moment of grief for all of us, especially having known the character of the father, a very respected individual, someone who does not believe overt publicity and now he’s at a center stage of global attention because of the allegations against his child,” Mato said.

He said most Nigerians are feeling sympathy for the Abdulmutallab family rather than condemnation because of what the crime young Abdulmutallab was alleged to have committed.

Mato said he doesn’t believe the terrorism allegations against young Abdulmutallab are sufficient enough to cause diplomatic tensions between Nigeria and either the United State or Western Europe.

“The most serious crisis I think that Nigeria faces today is in the area of dubious businessmen that are all over the place, doubtful characters that continue to deceive people across the globe in the name of making money,” Mato said.

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