By Taye Obateru, Abdulsalam Muhammad, Monsur Olowoopejo & Ndahi Marama
Armed soldiers, yesterday, took over security in Bichi town near Kano, following a sectarian violence that rocked the town, leading to the death of no fewer than five persons, just as reports said that 16 people were altogether killed in Kano, Plateau and Borno states.
In Lagos State, two vehicles, a commercial bus and a Toyota Camry car, plunged into the Majidun River, along Lagos-Ikorodu Road. However, the number of casualties were yet to be ascertained at press time.
In Borno and Plateau states, 11 people, including three children aged between five and 12, were allegedly killed by some unidentified gunmen in separate incidents.
The children, out of the eight people in Maiduguri, Borno State capital, were killed in the presence of their mother in Sulimanti ward of the metropolis, when their father, Aduju Zubairu, an SSS personnel could not be located.
Five other persons were shot dead during a night attack.
Three people were shot dead on Wednesday night when unknown gunmen also attacked two villages in Barkin Ladi and Riyom Local Government Areas of Plateau State.
Some armed men were said to have opened fire on a group of people at Sho village in Barkin Ladi Local Government Area at about 7pm, killing two of them instantly.
Kano killings, curfew
Kano residents confirmed that religious worship centres and stalls were burnt during the violence believed to have been sparked off over alleged blasphemy against Prophet Mohammed.
Security personnel were drafted to the area located at Kilometre 27, along Kano-Katsina Federal Highway to contain the situation and stop its spread to other places, even as curfew was imposed on the town following the activities of vandals, who had taken advantage of the crises to loot.
Authorities have restricted the movements of motorcycle riders from 6pm to 6am in Kano metropolis to check rising cases of serial killings by unknown gunmen on motorcycles.
However Kano Police Commissioner, Ibrahim Idris told newsmen in Kano that the crisis was triggered by “misinformation” that somebody blasphemed the Prophet of Islam by referring to a style of dress designed for his friend by a popular tailor in the town during an interaction.
He added that those who got the message wrongly spread the rumour and made trouble out of it.
Idris, however, said that no life was lost in the violence, adding that the security situation in the troubled city had been brought under “total control.”
He said: “We used the local Imams and opinion leaders in the town to quench the riot. Details of the casualties and property lost are still sketchy and the security operation is still on.”
Crimes in the regions have been attributed to gunmen on motorcycles in recent months.
Idris said: “What we have done is a gradual process to control their activities.”
In the Plateau
In Plateau State a farmer was earlier shot dead, while working on his farm at Rankebot Village in neighboring Riyom Local Government Area.
The incident occurred at 5.30pm and he died before medical help could get to him, while the assailants escaped into the bush before security men got to the scene.
Media Officer of the Special Task Force, STF, maintaining security in the state confirmed the incident, disclosing that two people have been arrested in connection with the killing at Barkin Ladi.
Earlier on Monday, gunmen shot into a herd of cows in Barkin Ladi Local Government Area, killing 12 and injuring another 12.
It took the prompt intervention of the Commander of the Special Task Force in the state, Major General Henry Ayoola, who held a meeting with local government and community leaders to save the situation from deteriorating.
However, in Maiduguri it was learnt that the three children were killed at Sulimanti, yesterday, morning when their assailants stormed the residence of the victims at exactly 1:55am and forcefully broke the main gate where they violently woke up the three children and slaughtered them.
Sources said that when the assailants combed the house and could not find any adult since the mother went into hiding, they killed the children.
The gunmen thereafter went to a nearby house belonging to one Mr. Joel Temai a retired nurse, and then set it ablaze when they did not find anybody at home.
In a related development, five people were also killed in Lawan Bukar ward of Maiduguri metropolis.
Family members of Governor Kashim Shettima were residing in the Lawan Bukar Ward, where the incident occurred, until it was identified as one of the black spots where members of the Boko Haram operated.
It was learnt that the gunmen were on revenge mission as they believed that their victims had revealed the identity of two of their members, who were killed by JTF on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, no group has yet claimed responsibility for the separate attacks.
JTF spokesman, Lt.-Col. Sagir Musa said on telephone that he travelled out of Maiduguri and referred Vanguard to the police Commissioner, Mr. Yuguda Abdullahi, whose telephone was switched off at the time of this report.