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Bombings: Jonathan cancels Democracy Day ceremony – PUNCH

President Goodluck JonathanThe Goodluck Jonathan administration has cancelled the 2012 Democracy Day ceremony that would have held in Abuja Tuesday (today).

However, President Goodluck Jonathan will make a national broadcast at 8 o’clock this morning to mark the anniversary.

A statement by the presidential spokesman, Reuben Abati, on Monday said the Jonathan broadcast would be aired live from the President’s office. The President’s speeches in the past have been widely said to have been pre-recorded.

There was no official reason adduced for cancellation of the Democracy Day activities but there were speculations that the government’s decision was informed by the security situation in the country, especially the fear of terrorists’ attack.

On October 1, 2010, two bombs exploded near the Eagle Square venue of the 50th independence anniversary celebrations, killing many and injuring several others.

Last year, the Federal Government scaled down tremendously the celebration of the National Day, explaining that the country needed to save money on ceremonies though it was widely believed that the government was indeed afraid of attacks by the violent Islamic sect, Boko Haram, whose members have be executing a bombing campaign against the government.

Minister of Interior, Abba Moro, confirmed on Monday that there would not be any Democracy Day celebration as was the case every year on account of the “mood of the country.”

Nigeria started marking Democracy Day since year 2000 in commemoration of the return of civil rule in 1999.

Moro told one of our correspondents on the telephone, “There won’t be any celebration to mark this year’s Democracy Day; it will simply be marked with a national broadcast by the President. It will also involve a symposium where the challenges before the country would be X-rayed.

“The celebration was not cancelled; It is low-key because of the mood of the country.”

This is the first time the ceremony will be shelved since its commencement 12 years ago.

The Eagle Square was deserted on Monday and there were no policemen and soldiers that often provide security during major events at the centre. The Square is where major national public events are usually held.

Abati, in his statement, said the advance copies of the President’s address would not be made available to journalists. This was also a significant departure from the past.

The Presidency said copies would only be made available as soon as the president commences the broadcast.

Our correspondent learnt that the decision to delay the release of copies of the address was taken out of concerns that the address would be published online before the presidential broadcast.

“In the past, embargoed copies were made available to journalists with a clear instruction that they should not be published before a given time. But with the influx of various online media, it has been discovered that it is difficult to ensure compliance, hence the need to delay the release,” a source in the Presidency said.

Meanwhile, the Acting Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Abubakar, has directed all Zonal Assistant Inspectors-General of Police and Commissioners of Police to ensure that security was provided at all venues for workshops and symposiums across the country to commemorate the Democracy Day.

He also directed that adequate security should be provided at all key government installations and vulnerable points across the country.

Abubakar called on politicians and other political stakeholders to play politics by the rules and urged them to eschew all acts capable of impacting negatively on the nation’s fledgling democracy. He reminded political actors particularly in Edo and Ondo states (where governorship elections are billed to take place soon), to guard their utterances and conduct their campaigns in decent, orderly and civil manner.

The IG warned against all forms of electoral violence, thuggery and lawlessness, vowing to bring the full weight of the law on anyone found breaking the law.

A statement by the Deputy Force Public Relations Officer, Frank Mba, said the police were ready to provide adequate security before, during and after elections in Ondo and Edo states.

He added that the police had commenced training and retraining of its personnel in the two states to prepare them for the challenges of monitoring and policing the states for purposes of the scheduled elections.

“On the part of the Force, the IG wishes to re-affirm the commitment of the Nigeria Police to providing a peaceful, stable, orderly and secure environment for democracy and other socio-economic activities to thrive,” the statement read.

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