BY EMMANUEL AZIKEN, JIMITOTA ONOYUME, HENRY UMORU & VICTORIA OJEME
LAGOS—REACTIONS have continued to trail Saturday’s attack on the convoy of the Emir of Kano, Alhaji Ado Bayero, by gunmen, which left two of his aides dead, with former Military Head of State, General Ibrahim Babangida, describing the attack as a wake-up call.
He also called on President Goodluck Jonathan to caution his political appointees on their intemperate language, which he claimed had done more harm than good.
Meantime, Senate President David Mark described the attack on the Emir as a violent assault on the nation’s traditional institution just as the United Kingdom promised to help Nigeria tackle terrorism.
Also, a radical Islamic group, Ansaru, yesterday claimed responsibility for Saturday’s attack in Okene, Kogi State that killed two soldiers who were due to be deployed to Mali, and injured five others.
Senate President Mark, who condemned the act, reiterated his call on the security agencies to rise up to the challenge by ensuring that the perpetrators were brought to book.
Arewa Consultative Forum, ACF on its part, expressed shock over the attack, noting that “violence can never address perceived grievances, however strong we feel about them”.
Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, described the attack as a sacrilegious assault on the respected traditional institution.
PDP National Publicity Secretary, Chief Olisa Metuh in a statement, while condemning the act, commiserated with the families of those who lost their lives in the attack as well as others killed in series of such attacks in the country.
Governor Ibrahim Shema of Katsina State, on his part, commiserated with the government and people of Kano State on the incident and prayed for the peaceful repose of the souls of those who lost their lives in the attack and their families to bear the irreparable loss.
Member of Board of Trustees of All Nigerian Peoples Party, ANPP, Chief Solomon Edebiri, also spoke in like manner and urged government at all levels in the country to treat the issue of security very seriously.
Presidential aides must shun language of force – IBB
General Babangida, who spoke to Vanguard said: “I advise the Federal Government to exploit the option of dialogue with members of the insurgent groups in order to arrest this prevailing drift in our national security.
The use of force has proven to be inadequate and ineffective to checkmate this ugly trend.
“Government must also encourage positive discourse among its political appointees delivered with respect and rendered in temperate language to soothe the mood of the nation.
Language of force will not help us in our determination to address this insecurity problem. We must engage ourselves constructively and in a manner that puts the interest of the country far and above other partisan consideration.
“The attack on the Emir of Kano, which reportedly left four people dead is a wake-up call for all of us. What does anyone stand to gain by attempting to kill an Emir that is nearing 80 years?
The Emir of Kano stands out as one traditional ruler who does not seek favours from those in government and outside it, and who over the years, has been able to live an exemplary life to the admiration of all.
His record of achievements, the stability and candour he has brought to bear on the throne, are virtues that will live for posterity.”
Let’s employ legitimate means of seeking redress – Mark, PDP
Mark, in a statement by his Special Adviser, Media and Publicity, Mr Kola Ologbondiyan, said he was saddened by renewed violence in Kano and some other states, lamenting the incessant incidents of gun attacks as well as the activities of insurgent groups, who always target innocent individuals in our society.
He called on Nigerians, who have information about the hideout of the activists to make such available to the security agencies.
PDP on its part, noted that the party was deeply saddened by the wave of attacks and urged those behind the dastardly acts to have a rethink, stressing that there was no justification for bloodletting.
“Nigerians must learn to live harmoniously with one another. Those who have grievances of any kind should seek legitimate means of getting redress instead of resorting to violence.”
The party urged the security agencies to rise to the occasion and ensure that those behind the attack on the Emir and other Nigerians were brought to book.
Violence won’t address grievances – ACF, Gov Shema
ACF in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Mr Anthony San, said: “The news of attacks on the convoy of Emir of Kano, which resulted in the loss of two of his aides came to ACF as a rude shock, because the Emir, as a custodian of traditional values and culture that inspire peaceful coexistence, harmony and stability, should not reasonably be the target for attacks by any right thinking person or group. The attacks were, condemnable because they were uncalled for.
“Consequently, we condemn the attacks with all sense of seriousness and concern because violence can never address perceived grievances, however strong we feel about them.
May God repose the souls of those who died in the attacks and provide those they left behind the fortitude to bear the irreparable losses.”
Governor Shema in a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Press Affairs, Mr Lawal Matazu, appealed to Nigerians to embrace peace and dialogue as the best tool for solving grievances.
Let’s strengthen our security institutions – Edebiri
Chief Edebiri, who spoke to Vanguard, yesterday, in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, said it was sad that anyone could think of attacking the Emir.
Edebiri said the Federal Government should strengthen security institutions all over the country, adding that the rising spate of kidnapping for ransom had become worrisome in Edo and other parts of the South South region.
He enjoined government at all levels in the country to see job creation and youth empowerment as the twin-solution to the problem of crime in the country.
UK ready to assist Nigeria on terrorism – Pocock
The United Kingdom, UK, weekend expressed its readiness to reduce the threat of terrorism within Nigeria and the West African sub-region.
Newly appointed British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Dr Andrew Pocock, stated this while speaking with journalists in Abuja. He said Nigeria mattered to the UK because of her size, resources, importance in West Africa, Africa and globally.
Pocock said: “Sadly, terrorism in the North has taken many lives and is damaging economic and development prospects; and increasingly, the daily struggle of too many poor people.”
He said working together to reduce terrorism within Nigeria and the sub-region was one of his cardinal objectives, which he noted “demands an integrated political, economic, security and human rights approach.
“The UK has had its own experience, which it is already sharing with the Nigerian authorities,”
Pocock said and attributed the insecurity in the country to a regional issue as “what is happening in Nigeria is part of the Sahelian problem just like what is happening in Mali.”
Pocock said: “Nigeria and the UK have a shared agenda not just to address security in the region, but worldwide.
Nigeria is not alone in the fight against terrorism in your country. We are with Nigeria considering our interests here. We have a long history of military-military cooperation which we hope to expand. Nigeria is not alone, West Africa is not alone and Mali is not alone.”
Asked if the amalgamation of Nigeria was a decision taken in good faith considering the calls for the breakup of the country, he said the decision to unite the then Southern and Northern protectorates in 1914, was a carefully chosen one.
Pocock said the aim was that Nigeria, with its peoples and vast resources, was better as one indivisible nation, rather than operating in units.
“It was an action taken in good faith,” Pocock remarked.
Why we attacked the soldiers – Islamic group
In a statement, Ansaru said Saturday’s explosion at Okene city was in response to Nigeria’s deployment of troops to Mali.
“We have successfully execute (sic) our first attempt in (crippling) the Nigerian army troops (whose aim was) to demolish the Islamic empire of Mali,” said Ansaru, which had also claimed last month’s kidnapping of a French citizen in northern Nigeria.
“We are equipped and waiting for any slightest attempt of Nigerian army moving towards the Islamic empire of Mali,” yesterday’s statement said.
The group also warned African countries to stop helping the West fight Muslims.
“We are warning the African countries to confiscate their effort for helping Western countries in fighting against Islam and Muslim (sic),” vowing to retaliate, especially against the Nigerian government, “anywhere, anytime.”
Ansaru is less well known than Islamist group Boko Haram, which is waging a deadly insurgency across northern Nigeria that has killed hundreds since 2009. Boko Haram has said it wants to create an Islamic state in the North.
The two groups are known to have ties but are seen as independent from one another.
In November, Britain’s interior ministry identified Ansaru as a “Nigeria-based terrorist organisation” and banned membership of the group or support for it.
The group’s full name, Jama’atu Ansarul Muslimina fi Biladis Sudan, is roughly translated as “Vanguards for the Aid of Muslims in Black Africa.”
Britain has said the group likely has ties to Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, and may have been responsible for the 2011 kidnapping of a Briton and an Italian in northern Nigeria. Both hostages were killed last March.
Tinubu condemns attack
Former Governor of Lagos State and leader of the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu also condemned the attack on the Emir of Kano as a new low in the safety and security of Nigerians.
“Nigeria has sunk to a new low in insecurity”, Tinubu maintained in a statement issued by his media office in Lagos.
“These incessant attacks and this most recent one on the respected Emir of Kano is unacceptable in a country governed by an elected government invested with power and state resources to ensure efficient security for all its citizens.
Nigeria continues to bleed, while those charged with protecting their lives flounder and fiddle in their response to a problem that could undermine national security and endanger our young democracy”.
The former Lagos governor also queried the level of intelligence gathering in the country and the alert system considering that almost a year ago a most deadly attack of multiple bombings occurred in Kano. He called for better coordination and sharing of information and an intelligence alert system that is efficient.
While describing Bayero as a well-respected traditional ruler and one with a progressive orientation who has led his people with courage and vision, Tinubu called on the security agencies to go beyond just the arrests of the masterminds to dig deeper towards gathering important intelligence that can help unravel the present deplorable state of insecurity in Nigeria.