The United Nations has reopened its building in Abuja, eight years after the property was destroyed in an attack by a Boko Haram suicide bomber.
The Nigerian government undertook the rebuilding of the property and handed it over to UN officials on Thursday.
On August 21, 2011, a car filled with explosives rammed into the building, setting off an explosion that killed 23 UN staff, including Nigerians, in the first suicide bomb attack in Nigeria.
Witnesses said the car ran through various gates leading to the UN main building as armed guards opened fire to stop it.
Days later, the then spokesperson of Boko Haram, Abu Kaka, who is believed to have been killed by the military, claimed credit for the attack on behalf of his group.
The bombing which levelled the lower floor of the facility, left 76 people injured.
Boko Haram’s Abu Kaka said in a teleconference with journalists that the attack was carried out to force the government to release the group’s detained members.
Mr. Lowcock paid tribute to the 23 UN colleagues, contractors, and visitors who lost their lives that day, “and the many others who were injured.”
“Their sacrifice will never be forgotten. My thoughts today are above all with the families and friends they left behind.
“Today, I want to dedicate this official handover of UN House to all those whose lives were irreversibly changed on that fateful day in 2011.
“This re-opening of UN House is one small way we can honor them. But today is not only about the past. Today we must also look to the future,” said Mr. Lowcock.
The handover ceremony was attended by officials of Nigerian government comprising, Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Faruq; the Minister of Federal Capital Territory, Mohammed Bello; the Minister of Women Affairs, Paulin Tallen; former Chairman Nigeria Economic Summit Group, Kyari Bukar, among others.
During his two-day visit to Nigeria, Mr Lowcock had discussed the humanitarian situation in the northeastern states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states.