By Taye Obateru
JOS—A FRESH attempt to bomb some parts of Jos was foiled, yesterday, after the Special Task Force which is maintaining security in Jos intercepted a group of people who were trying to plant an explosive in Nasarawa Gwom area even as the death toll in the Christmas Eve multiple bomb explosions has risen to 80
The National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, said yesterday that the death toll and the ensuing violence in the Plateau State capital has risen to 80. NEMA’s Deputy Director (Communications) Daniel Gambo who confirmed the figures on Monday said 180 people are currently hospitalized in various health institutions while 70 have been treated and discharged.
Spokesman of the Special Task Force, Capt. Charles Ekeocha, who displayed substances which included a mixture of fertilizer, broken bottles and other unknown substances, said a group of people were seen putting the items together in the area.
Ekeocha said that on sighting the soldiers, the people left the items and fled following which the soldiers recovered them.
He urged residents to exercise restraint and not do anything that could aggravate the situation on ground.
Meanwhile, the Chief of Defence Staff, CDS, Air Chief Marshall Oluseyi Petirin, has vowed that the perpetrators of the Christmas Eve bombings in the Plateau State capital must be unmasked and brought to book.
The vow came as the Special Task Force, STF, paraded three suspects, two of them for attempting to torch a church at Dogon Karfe area and the third, a Nigerien for being in possession of dangerous weapons.
CDS appeals to Jos residents
Addressing a crowd at Gada Biyu in Kabon area after visiting the site of the blast there, the CDS said the crisis in Jos could no longer be taken for granted adding that a situation where people perpetrated evil and continue to walk the street free must no longer be condoned.
He described the situation as overwhelming but appealed to the people to be calm and not to take the laws into their hands, assuring that everything would be done to get the culprits.
The CDS also visited some of the victims at the Bingham Teaching Hospital where he went from bed to bed offering apologies to nearly 40 people who suffered injuries in Friday’s blasts.
One casualty, John James, said he heard the explosions and rushed to help the wounded, when the army arrived and fired shots.
He said: “I was trying to drag out victims from the bombs, when I was shot by a soldier.”
The CDS also visited Governor Jonah Jang and the Gbong Gwom Jos to sympathize over the incident.
Parading the three suspects, spokesman of the STF, Capt. Charles Ekeocha said two of them were arrested on Sunday while trying to torch a building with dynamite and were found with seven unexpended cartridges and two wraps of hemp.
He said the third suspect who is a citizen of Niger Republic was caught with a sickle knife and a dagger in the same area.
Meanwhile, a Jos based cleric, Prophet Isah El_Buba has alleged that the bombings were directed at destabilizing the governments of President Goodluck Jonathan and Governor Jang.
He told journalists on Monday that the action was deliberately planned for Jos, the hotbed of the Middle Belt so that the crisis would spread to other parts of the country.
El-Buba who is General Overseer of Evangelical Bible Outreach international said: “What is going on is a direct attack on the government of President Jonathan and Governor Jang of Plateau State and the Federal Government must wake up to defend the Nigerian nation from the hands of few religious zealots who are out to carry out a secret agenda against the majority interest of Nigeria.”
The Plateau State Council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, NUJ, which lost a member in the blast has also called on government to take decisive action to prevent its recurrence and other forms of violence in the country.
A statement signed by the Chairman, Mr. Katdapba Gobum and Secretary, Mr. Isaac Shobayo said the slain journalist, Mr.Augustine Sindyi who was a photo journalist with state owned The Standard newspaper was at scene of the multiple bomb blast at Kabong and was among the first causalities that died instantly before getting to the hospital.
UN Scribe flays violence
United Nations Secretary_General, Ban Ki_moon, also condemned the violence that broke out in Jos. A UN statement said Ban expressed his support on efforts by the Nigerian authorities to bring those responsible to justice.
The UN chief conveyed his condolences to the families of the victims and to the government and people of Nigeria.
Okotie condemns bombings
The presidential candidate of the Fresh Democratic Party, FRESH, Rev. Chris Okotie, condemned the bombings in Jos that left deaths and destruction in its trail.
He said in a statement: “We condemn the senseless destruction of lives and property in Jos, regardless of the motives of the perpetrators. This is what we least expect in this Christmas season when we are celebrating Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace.”
Okotie expressed concern that Jos, the Plateau State capital deserves some respite from sporadic sectarian conflict which had been plaguing the city of late, adding: “I strongly urge President Goodluck Jonathan to rise to the occasion this time and find a lasting solution to this perennial unrest, especially as we approach election year.”