By SHEHU SANI
It was a running ‘battle’ between the sect – Boko Haram and the Nigeria Police Force. The tale of how human flesh littered scenes of explosion and on vehicles that were parked at the car park was also part of the narrative. The series concludes with way out for the sect.
MAY 28, 2005 – A bomb blast occurs at the residence of the Ikono Head of Council of the area, in Ikono Akwa Ibom State.
*November 25, 2006 – An explosion destroys parts of PDP secretariat in Bayelsa State.
*November 28, 2006 – A car bomb explosion kills one Godwin Aigbekhai in Owan East Local Council, Edo State.
*December 5, 2006 – Dynamites explode at the then Governor Goodluck Jonathan’s campaign office in Bayelsa State.
*December 11, 2006 – Thugs attack Ndudi Elumelu’s campaign office in Aniocha/Oshimili Federal Constituency, Delta, with dynamites in Delta State.
*December 23, 2006 – MEND claims responsibility for a car bomb that exploded outside the offices of Nigeria’s Rivers State government in Port Harcourt
*March 18, 2009 – A student of a Government Secondary School in Nasarawa State is blown to pieces by a bomb on a farm in the Ikeja Military Cantonment.
*July 12, 2009 – MEND attacks Atlas Cove, an oil facility in Lagos with dynamite and guns, killing five.
*December 22, 2009 – A letter bomb purportedly targeted against Superscreen Television explodes midway to the station’s office.
*April 11, 2010 – A military grenade explosion at Dandin Kowa area of Jos, chops off the hands of Abdulsamad Mohammed, 18, leaving him with multiple bruises.
*March 16, 2010 – Two bombs detonated at the post-amnesty dialogue organised by Vanguard newspapers in Warri, Delta State, killing one person.
*May 2, 2010 – A car explodes in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, close to a guesthouse owned by the state’s Deputy Governor, Peremobowei Ebebi.s
*May 3, 2010 – An explosive device is detonated at a mechanic’s workshop along Melford Okilo Road, Bayelsa.
*October 1, 2010 – A twin car bomb explodes close to the Eagle square Abuja, killing 12, injuring 36.
*December 27, 2010 – A bomb explodes in Barkin Ladi, a town on the outskirts of Jos, Plateau State.
*December 24, 2010 – Three bombs explode in the city of Jos, kills 30
*December 31, 2010 – Explosion at Mogadishu Mammy Market, Abuja, claim four lives.
*April 7, 2011 – An explosion hits a polling booth at Unguwar Doki, Maiduguri, Borno State injuring more than ten people.
*April 8, 2011 – Bomb explosion at the Independent Electoral Commission office in Suleja, kills 11
*April 15, 2011 – Youths riding on a motorcycle, throw a locally- made bomb into the premises of the Maiduguri council office of the INEC.
*April 21, 2011 – Two suspected bomb makers die in a blast in Kaduna.
*June 11, 2011 – A bomb blast is averted at the United Methodist Church opposite the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University Teaching Hospital, Bauchi during a church service.
*April 25, 2011 – Three bomb blasts rip through Tudu Palace Hotel and Kano Motor Park in Maiduguri, Borno State.
*April 27, 2011 – A bomb blast is averted at an INEC collation centre in Oron, Akwa Ibom State several hours before the commencement of voting in the state.
*May 28, 2011 – 13 people died and 40 are injured after a blast occurred at the mammy market of Shandawanka Barracks in Bauchi, the Bauchi State capital.
*May 29, 2011 – Eight victims lose their legs after an explosion occurred at Zuba, a suburb of Kubwa in Abuja.
*June 16, 2011 – A massive explosion at the National Police Headquarters building in Abuja.
Ways out of
* Almajiri reform and enhanced
* Effective poverty alleviation policies and enforcement by the government.
* Isolate and address grievances of all interest groups as fair as possible.
* Government regulation of preaching in religious gathering
* Effective job provision and sustainability by the government
* Enhanced criminal intelligence by the security agencies
* Cooperation and intelligence sharing by the different intelligence agencies.
* Effective implementation of police reform policies reducing the high turn over of the Inspector General of Police and establishment of a legal procedure to elongate or fix a tenure of, say, five years for the office of IGP.
* Enhance border petrol and regulations of the influx of immigrants or aliens.
* Put in place good policies to promote effective and efficient leadership, good governance transparency and a mechanism to check, prevent and totally eliminate corruption.
* Put in place effective mechanism for conflict mediation and resolution and also an alternative dispute resolution.
* Enhance the citizen security agencies relationship towards maintenance of internal security and stability.
The shooting of 17 mourning followers of Sheik Yusuf by men of the Operation Flush raised concerns about the excesses and human rights abuse indulged by the security outfit with impunity.
Investigation revealed that trouble began when the sect members were on their way to a cemetery in a procession to bury four of their members who died in a motor accident along Biu – Maiduguri road, a day earlier. Some of them who rode on motorbike were intercepted by an Operation Flush patrol team and asked why they were not wearing crash elements.
The sect members did not take kindly to the enquiry which they thought was a provocation given that they were in a funeral procession. The Borno State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Christopher Dega, said the group had disagreement with members of the joint military and police patrol team known as “Operation Flush” in Maiduguri “over traffic-related violations by the procession”. He said: “One thing led to another and a member of the patrol team stationed at the Custom’s roundabout opened fire to save his colleagues from the mob”.
The members of the group and three onlookers were crowded in the process. Those injured were rushed to the emergency of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital where they were treated and discharged. Days later, the cleric, Sheik Yusuf, made a pronouncement through his well circulated Friday sermon in Maiduguri to retaliate the shooting of his men, boasting that his group would be prepared to confront all the security agencies in the State as well as government which he described as the enemies of Islam. Government sources claimed President Umaru Yar’Adua and the National Security Adviser, NSA, General Abdullahi Sakin Muktar were adequately briefed on Mohammed’s threats.
The Bauchi strike
The Boko Haram men were largely known to have lived at Jadaman Mada and near the airport where they have their jummat mosque. They neither buy commercial food, nor eat from dishes prepared by non-members, due to its sources (Haram). In fact, they do not eat much, some of them are said to live on fruits and dates only. They normally dress in similar costumes as the Taliban of Afghanistan or Pakistan, with long sleeve robe, shortened trousers, a turban, long beard; a small coat cover the long sleeve robe, covering the abdomen (like a bullet proof jacket) and a chewing stick.
That fateful day on July 26, 2009, a small group of about 30 youths marched towards the Dutsen Tanship Police Station in Bauchi Town around 6.00am. All of them were carrying assorted weapons that included machetes, bows and arrows, daggers and dane gun. The Police seemed to be prepared as they opened fire on them as soon as they attacked. Five of the attackers were left dead instantly. Soon the Police, in conjunction with the military, swiftly surrounded the entire house suspected to be their abode, early that morning.
Most of their belongings were taken along and displayed for official inspections. Items found include sewn military uniform, boots, live ammunition, shells, locally made explosives, lethal gun powder. Immediately after the encounter, the houses belonging to their sect were destroyed by the authorities. Those who were neither killed nor arrested escaped into the thin air. Most of those arrested were found to be indigenes of Yobe and Borno states.
In a chat with newsmen that fateful Sunday morning, Minister of Police Affairs, Dr. Ibrahim Yakubu Lame, said the Police will further their investigations to ensure that all those connected with the attack were arrested, while their sponsor(s) will be brought to justice, whoever they may be in the society.
Governor Isa Yuguda told newsmen he was satisfied with the commitment and accuracy of the security operatives, adding: “This calls for celebration as we have succeeded in pre-emptying them”.
He indicated that intelligence report had shown that they had prepared well to attack, but government pre-empted them and caused them to be on the defensive. He said that he had earlier warned his neighboring colleagues and had informed them of his intention; that is why there were less civilian involvement in the conflict.
Yuguda said: “This is not a religious violence. It is a case of military. I consider them as lunatics who should be referred to psychiatrists. In fact, their action is not religious, but a case of wanton militancy”.
The Assistant Inspector General of Police, Zone 12, Mr. Moses Anegboda confirmed that 41 persons were killed in the crisis between the Police and the sect. He told the News Agency of Nigeria, NAN, that 39 persons were members of the group, while a policeman and a soldier were also killed.
He said 176 suspected members of the sect had been arrested. The Police, according to him, were working in collaboration with the office of the Attorney General of the Federation to draw up charges for the prosecution of the suspects.