The Federal House of Representatives, has urged the Federal Government to set up a judicial commission of inquiry to probe the October 1 bomb blasts in Abuja, as to complement the probe by security agencies on the issue.
The House, which resumed sitting after more than nine weeks of end of the year recess, had condemned the bomb blasts, stating that a commission of inquiry be set up to unravel the mysteries behind the incident.
This is coming as the House indicated a resolve to commence debate on the Executive Bill on Electoral Act 2010 Amendment, which it passed for First Reading during the plenary session with an indication that members were divided on the amendment being sought by the presidency.
The resolve by the members to push the idea of a commission of inquiry to probe the bomb blasts arose from a motion moved by the House Leader, Honourable Tunde Akogun, who enjoined his colleagues to condemn perpetrators of the blasts in totality, while commiserating with families of the victims of the gory incident.
A member, Honourable Abdul Ningi, had proposed an amendment to the motion by Akogun to the effect that the commission of inquiry was required, essentially, to get to the root of the bomb blasts, insisting that such a commission would be prone to make a holistic inquiry into the issue at stake.
Ningi explained that a competent judicial commission would naturally summon all security departments in Nigeria, including heads of the State Security Service (SSS), Police, DMI, and NIA, as well as those suspected to be masterminds of the bomb blasts to thorough interrogation, through which it would be able to obtain the circumstances surrounding the blasts.
The former House leader had called on his colleagues to live above board on the issue of bomb blasts by refraining from all manner of sentiments, which he said would prevent the government from getting to the root of the blasts.
He blamed the security departments of Nigeria, mostly the SSS, for failing to respond to early warning signals on the bomb blasts through text messages sent to some individuals.
The lapses by the security agencies, Ningi observed, were the main reason the Boko Haram sect struck in Borno State, adding that if the police and SSS had raised the alarm early enough by alerting more Nigerians to the pending danger, the number of casualties recorded during the blasts would have been reduced.
Ningi’s position was supported by the House Minority Leader, who heaped the blame of breakdown of security structure of Nigeria on the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), which he said had done nothing to correct the anomaly since it had been producing governments since 1999.
Ndume faulted President Goodluck Jonathan for the alleged hasty remarks credited to him on the bomb blasts, as according to him, the president, by his action, had shown open bias on the issue.
He also lambasted the security operatives in Nigeria for ignoring early warnings reportedly sent to them by members of the Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta (MEND), stating that the security operatives should have shared necessary information among Nigerians as a means of avoiding casualties.
Sani Abdul and Ubale Kiru spoke along the same line, when he mentioned the incident of Boko Haram in Borno State and that they said security operatives had information about the attacks by the religious sect but failed to prevent them.
The Deputy Minority Leader, Honourable Femi Gbajabiamila, admonished his colleagues to avoid apportioning blame on the bomb blasts, noting that all the House should care about was the need to address the fundamental issues involved in addressing the security problems confronting Nigeria.
The House, after debate on the bomb blasts, also urged the Federal Government to ensure the installation of closed-circuit televison (CCTV) cameras in major cities in Nigeria to monitor movements, just as it urged the government to give support to the families of victims of the bomb blasts.
In a welcome address he read to his colleagues, the House Speaker, Honourable Dimeji Bankole, asked members to rise for a minute silence in remembrance of Nigerians who died during the bomb blasts.
Bankole urged his colleagues to reflect more on the lessons that the bomb blasts had thrown up, noting, “there must be lessons to be learnt from such senseless act.
And we as a nation must learn such lessons collectively. This House will, by using instruments and tools of legislation and oversight, play its part in ensuring that this never occurs again and that these fellow Nigerians did not die in vain.”
The Speaker called on members to accord priority attention to the new bill on Electoral Act amendment, stating, “it is paramount to get behind this required amendment as quickly and as thoroughly as possible. These 2011 elections must stand the test of time.”
Hardly had members risen from the day’s plenary, session when some members dissolved into discussion groups to explore the avenues of aiding the early passage of the bill in line with the presidency’s requests, while opponents of the fresh amendment proposed to the bill were seen mobilising their colleagues against supporting the bill.
Indications were rife, that the bill which had been read the first time had already polarised members on the basis that the fresh amendments proposed to the Electoral Act would stifle preparations for the 2011 elections.
Meanwhile, former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar has called for an international body of experts to investigate the tragic bombings.
The former vice-president said the call for an independent investigation by the body of international experts followed Federal Government’s exoneration of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND).
Atiku, who spoke to the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) in an interview aired on Tuesday, said he had a great deal of confidence in the Nigerian security services, but said he was, however, troubled by the presumptive remarks made by President Goodluck Jonathan in the wake of the bombings.
“The Federal Government has no choice but to open the Abuja bomb blasts to an international investigation,” he said.
He added that the utterances by the president, as well as the loss of lives of innocent people, had necessitated the call for such type of thorough investigation, so as to clear all suspicions.