January 24, 2012

Boko Haram bombs Kano afresh

Boko Haram bombs Kano afresh

File photo: Policemen from bomb disposal unit packing defused home made bombs made from cans of soft drinks.

Death toll rises to 210
By EMEKA MAMAH, KINGSLEY OMONOBI,Abuja. AbdulSalam Muhammad, Kano
KANO city, yesterday, came under a fresh attack as the Boko Haram sect bombed a police outpost at Sheka along Zoo road, close to the Shagari quarters.

The fresh attack, at 6.30 p.m, came few minutes to the commencement of the restriction of movement.

Vanguard gathered that there was fierce shooting between security forces and suspects believed to be members of the Boko Haram sect that has claimed responsibility for last Friday’s bomb attacks which left more than 200 persons dead.

Details of the new attack were still sketchy at the time of this report as people were running helter skelter for shelter. Unconfirmed reports said that158 suspects were arrested after the gun duel that lasted about four hours between 12.55 and 4.00 am. The report which quoted security sources said some of the suspects resisted arrest and exchanged gunfire with the security forces

The arrests came as community leaders said the number of dead from the Kano bombing and gun attacks has risen to at least 211. According to them, the number included victims who never made it to the hospitals.

Policemen from bomb disposal unit of Kano State Police Command packing defused home made bombs made from cans of soft drinks. Photos: AFP

Vanguard gathered that the gun battle at Hotoro quarters in Kano municipality reportedly claimed the life of Kano based businessman, Uzairu Abba Abdullahi, and his pregnant wife.

A security source in the city confided that a team of heavily armed personnel had on a tip off stormed the residence of a suspected Boko Haram member around 12.55am. Gun shots were reportedly fired at the security forces from the residents who responded to the attack. The source said that sporadic gunshots were heard throughout the night as a military helicopter hovered round the airspace in support of the ground force while residents in adjoining neighborhood slept with their eyes wide open.

Soldiers had since taken over the security of the city ‘on confidence building measure’ aimed at restoring normalcy in the devastated city while an 11 hours curfew was imposed by the Kano State Government in a bid to arrest the worsening security situation.

Image maker of the Police in Kano, ASP Magaji Musa Majia, failed to confirm the veracity of the late night military action at the residence of the suspected Boko Haram member, saying “I don’t have such story at my disposal as I speak with you now.”

Mass burial for victims

Meanwhile the Kano State government has commenced the mass burial of Friday’s blasts victims. Emir of Kano, Alhaji Ado Bayero broke tradition, yesterday, and visited survivors of the attacks on admission at the Murtala Muhammad Specialist Hospital. Bayero was accompanied by two other first class emirs from Jigawa State, Najeeb Hussaini Adamu, (Kazaure) and Nuhu Muhammadu Sanusi (Dutse) to the hospital to sympathize with victims.

Feelers from the hospitals where some of corpses of the victims were deposited  in the city indicated that the operation would begin any time from yesterday night in a bid to de-congest the morgues which were filled to capacity. In some of the hospitals, some of the corpses were left on the bare floor because of lack of space had started decomposing, hence the need to bury them immediately.

Vanguard investigation revealed that the category of corpses that would be given mass burial are those that had either remained unclaimed as at yesterday morning or the mangled and decomposed bodies of victims packed in polythene bags.

It was further learnt that the Kano State government had already secured vast land at Kalebawa Village, located along Kano –Dambatta highway, following conscious effort to underplay the magnitude of the casualties.

Don’t negotiate with terrorists —Army

Nigerian Army authorities, yesterday, warned against entering into any negotiation with the Boko Haram sect with insisting that dialogue has never been the antidote to terrorism.

Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Azubike Ihejirika, gave the warning in Abuja in his brief remark at the opening ceremony of 2012 second seminar on National Security with the theme: Nation Building & National Orientation, Imperatives for National Security organized by the Alumni Association of the National Defence College, AANDEC, in collaboration with the National Defence College, NDC.

Policemen carrying defused home-made bombs unto waiting vans, yesterday. Police said they recovered over 300 undetonated improvised explosive devices in various parts of the city since three days, after multiple explosions and gun assaults by Boko Haram killed 210 people. Photos: AFP

Kicking against attempts to dialogue with the sect which has maimed and killed many Nigerians. The Army chief spared no word to those who justify the terrorist act in the country saying “No matter and whatever the measure you put in place, we would not get the best result and fast enough unless the society as a whole reject terrorism without any justification. Those who try to justify act of terrorism, market it, (and) fuel the terrorists discover later that terrorism is not a matter to be negotiated and win.”

President of AANDEC, Rear Admiral Amos Adedeji (rtd.) traced the problem in the polity to the abject neglect of the social economic challenges in favour of political ground-standing of the political class which has now become a threat to the national security.

Noting that it was the aim of the association to address this oversight that led to the theme of the seminar, Adedeji cited the emergence of ethnic/religious uprising in the polity and the attendant problems and tasked the Course 20 of the institution to fashion out a solution to the menace. He accused the political elite of using divide and rule tactics to deny the ruled of their inalienable rights.

His words: “If we continue to accept this divide and rule tactics, and allow the conduct of the affairs of our country in a way that promotes lopsidedness in the polity the country will not progress. Using the just held protest against the withdrawal of fuel subsidy, Adedeji cautioned the ruling elite against depriving the people of their social expectation if nation building would be our priority”.

935 Nigerians killed by Boko Haram—HRW

The Human Rights Watch, HRW, said in a statement yesterday, that no fewer than 935 Nigerians have been killed by the Boko Haram Islamic sect since the the group started its campaign to force stricter form of Sharia in the northern states in 2009.

The statement entitled “Nigeria:Boko Haram Widens Terror Campaign,” and made available to newsmen, said the victims died in some 164 suspected attacks by the group during this period. It said that out of this number, about 253 were killed in the first three weeks of this year, in 21 separate attacks; just as no fewer than 550 people were killed in 115 separate attacks last year.

The HRW statement read: “The campaign of violence by the militant Islamist group Boko Haram, including attacks on churches and suicide bombings in the first three weeks of 2012 that killed more than 253 people, is an indefensible attack on human life. The January 20, 2012 attacks in Kano left at least 185 police and residents dead and resulted in the highest death toll in a single day since Boko Haram began its violent campaign in July 2009.

“More than 935 people have been killed in some 164 suspected attacks by the group during this period and the group has claimed responsibility for bombing churches, police stations, military facilities, banks, and beer parlours, in northern Nigeria, as well as the United Nations building and police headquarters in Abuja, the nation’s capital. Suspected Boko Haram members, often riding motorcycles and carrying Kalashnikov rifles under their robes, have gunned down numerous Christian worshippers, police officers, and soldiers, and assassinated local politicians, community leaders, and Islamic clerics who oppose the group.

“Boko Haram’s attacks show a complete and utter disregard for human life. The Nigerian authorities need to call a halt to this campaign of terror and bring to justice those responsible for planning and carrying out these reprehensible crimes. The group – Jama’atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda’awati wal-Jihad, commonly known as Boko Haram, has carried out increasingly deadly attacks, including suicide bombings, which killed at least 550 people in 115 separate attacks in 2011.

“In the first three weeks of January 2012 alone, more than 253 people have been killed.  Human Rights Watch has tracked media reports of attacks by suspected Boko Haram members over the past two years. The vast majority of these incidents have taken place in Maiduguri, the capital of Borno State in North-eastern Nigeria, where the group has its headquarters, but attacks by suspected members of the group have also been carried out in Abuja and at least 10 other states in northern Nigeria.

Christmas day bombing

“Many of the attacks in the past month have specifically targeted Christians and southern Nigerians living in the north, including the Christmas Day 2011 bombing of a Catholic church in Madalla, Niger State, which killed at least 40 people. In response to the escalating attacks, President Goodluck Jonathan declared a state of emergency on December 31, in parts of Borno, Niger, Plateau, and Yobe states.

“Boko Haram responded on January 2 with a three-day ultimatum to southern Nigerians, most of whom are Christian, to leave the North. Three days later, on January 5, suspected members of the group attacked a church in Gombe State, killing six people, including the pastor’s wife.

On January 6, Boko Haram gunned down 12 members of the Igbo ethnic group, from South-eastern Nigeria, during a community meeting in Mubi, Adamawa State, and attacked a church in Yola, the state capital, killing 12 Christian worshippers.

“At a filling station in Potiskum, Yobe State, on January 11, suspected members of the group opened fire on a commuter van full of Igbo passengers leaving the north, killing four of the passengers. Boko Haram’s leader, Abubakar Shekau, in a video released on January 11, claimed that the group carried out the attacks on Christians in retaliation for the killing of Muslims by Christians in central Nigeria, including Kaduna and Plateau states. Boko Haram is targeting and killing people in northern Nigeria based on their religion and ethnicity.

“The Nigerian government has an obligation under international law to protect its citizens. The authorities need to step up security, with additional police and regular patrols in communities at risk.

‘’The Nigerian police, on January 14, announced the arrest of a suspect in the Christmas Day church bombing in Madalla, (Kabiru Sokoto) but he escaped from police custody the following day. ‘’Several other Boko Haram suspects have escaped from custody in the past months in suspicious circumstances.

‘’Boko Haram expanded its methods of attack in 2011 to include the use of suicide bombers, including the August 26 attack on the UN building in Abuja, which killed 25 people and injured over 100 others.

‘’The group carried out a series of similarly coordinated attacks on police stations, banks, and churches in Yobe and Borno states on November 4. The attacks left more than 100 people dead.

‘’The January 20 attacks, including apparent suicide car bombings, targeted the state and regional police headquarters, three local police stations, and a police barracks in Kano, the largest city in Nigeria’s north, as well as the offices of the State Security Service, SSS, and the immigration department.

‘’Armed men gunned down police officers and shot wildly at random passers-by, then engaged the police and soldiers in running gun battles.

‘’According to a police statement and media reports, the dead included numerous Kano residents, one Indian, two Nepalese nationals, a journalist working for Channels TV (an independent Nigerian television station), 29 police officers, three customs and immigration officers, and three SSS agents.

‘’Boko Haram seeks to impose a stricter form of Sharia or Islamic law in northern Nigeria and end corruption.

‘’News media reported that a spokesperson for the group, Abul Qaqa, took responsibility for the attacks in Kano, saying the group carried out the attacks because the government refused to release Boko Haram members who had been arrested.

‘’Violence by Boko Haram, which means Western education is sinful in the Hausa language of northern Nigeria, can be traced to five days of clashes in July 2009 between the group and members of the security forces in Borno, Yobe, Bauchi, and Kano states that left more than 800 people dead, including at least 30 police officers.

‘’The police summarily executed the captured Boko Haram leader, Mohammed Yusuf, along with several dozen of his followers in front of the police headquarters in Maiduguri. Boko Haram has said that its attacks on the police are in revenge for these killings.’’