from Africa in Transition

Abuja Bomb Blast and Nigerian Security

July 01, 2014

Blog Post

More on:

Sub-Saharan Africa

Terrorism and Counterterrorism



Wars and Conflict

On June 25, there was a bomb blast at a shopping center in Wuse 2 in downtown Abuja. According to the police, twenty-one persons were killed. While no group has claimed responsibility, the Nigerian media (and everybody else) points to Boko Haram, the Islamist insurrection, as the most likely perpetrator.

There are now bombings in Abuja every month. Previously, they have been in the outskirts at transit points. This time, the bomb attack was in the commercial heart of the city. The shopping center is described as “luxury.” It is patronized by government officials, business people, diplomats, and other expatriates, although it is not as luxurious as Nairobi’s Westgate Mall, the scene of an attack in September 2013.

Deutsche Welle is reporting anger among citizens in Abuja at the government’s inability to provide security.

Nigeria is now highly bifurcated. On the one hand, the Lagos-Ibadan corridor is booming, with the skyline marked by construction cranes. Conspicuous consumption is evident—condominium prices appear to approach those of Washington, DC, (if not Manhattan), and luxury cars choke the roads in the best parts of town. The Lagos state government appears to function better than any other in the federation. Boko Haram has mounted no attacks, and Islamist terrorism seems to be far away. On the other hand, death and destruction are ubiquitous in the northeast where Boko Haram killings are now daily—no longer weekly or monthly. Abuja seems to be between the two extremes.

In the case of the June 25 Abuja bombing, a spokesman for the Department of Security Services told the media that suspects have been arrested and that there is an ongoing investigation. But in Abuja, popular confidence in the government’s ability to provide security is eroding.