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Bombing Suspect Escape an Embarrassment, Says Nigeria Scholar

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan (C, with black hat) visits St. Theresa's Catholic church, the scene of a Christmas day bomb attack, just outside the capital Abuja, (file photo)

A scholar says the escape of the alleged mastermind of the Christmas Day bombing at a Catholic church in the capital, Abuja, is a massive embarrassment to President Goodluck Jonathan and to all Nigerians.

Professor Kabiru Mato, chair of the political science department at the University of Abuja, says the state security agencies seem to have abdicated their responsibilities, which he says include the protection of life and property.

“It’s an embarrassment to Nigeria as a nation because what it means is that there seems to be a major gap between the government and the people,” said Mato. “It’s astonishing to say one of the principal suspects who has been arrested escaped from the police authorities. This means there is glaring weakness on the part of the nation security forces.”

Mato said the escape of the alleged bomber is a big disappointment to Nigerians.

In its official report, the Nigeria police said the suspect, Kabiru Sokoto, was being escorted to another police station outside of Abuja when his gang members attacked and freed him. The police commissioner who ordered the transfer has been suspended, and police say they are investigating the incident. But Mato raised doubt about the credibility of the intelligence that led to the arrest of the Boko Haram mastermind.

“This will go further to discredit whatever vital information they might have supplied Nigerians; the source and even the character of the crisis that we have at hand,” said Mato.

President Jonathan recently expressed concern the militant Islamic sect Boko Haram has sympathizers in various arms of government. But, professor Mato differed saying Mr. Jonathan should demonstrate leadership in the face of what he calls a national crisis.

“I challenge the president on that statement and I see it as highly un-presidential. It is quite untenable for the president of Nigeria to come out and tell us that he is helpless,” Continued Mato. “If he does not feel safe then what about ordinary Nigerians that walk the streets without any hope [and] that means we are completely insecure. So, I think that statement was most unfortunate.”

Mato expressed surprise that the president has yet to name any of Boko Haram’s sympathizers in his administration.

Some observers say the country’s leader should have fired security officials over the escape of the suspect. This came after administration officials issued an ultimatum to security officers to re-arrest the suspect or lose their jobs.