By Ben Agande
Abuja — President Goodluck Jonathan has again appealed to Nigerians, especially those who occupy leadership positions, to fully support the Federal Government and security services in the fight against terrorism.
In his reaction, yesterday to the suicide bomb attack on a church in Bauchi State, the President said no patriotic Nigerian should stand aloof while enemies of the nation wage a wicked war against innocent citizens.
In a statement by his Special Adviser on Communications, Dr. Reuben Abati, the President expressed sadness at the loss of more Nigerian lives in a terrorist attack on a church in Bauchi State and conveyed his “sincerest condolences to the families of those who lost their lives in the bombing and has directed federal medical and emergency services to do everything possible to assist the survivors.
“While the recurrence of a heinous attack on a place of worship is most regrettable, the President urges Nigerians not to be disheartened by it.
“Rather, he urges Nigerians and friends of the country to be comforted by the knowledge that the significant reduction in the frequency of such attacks in recent weeks is a clear indication of the increasing effectiveness of measures that had been put in place by the security services to combat the evil of terrorism.”
He assured Nigerians that the Armed Forces and security services will continue to implement proactive counter-terrorism measures and intensify efforts to totally eradicate the scourge of mindless terrorism from the country.
At least nine persons were confirmed killed and 40 others injured in a suicide bomb attack, yesterday, at Harvest Field church near Living Faith Church in Yelwa area, a surburb of Bauchi State metropolis.
Addressing newsmen on the incident, Bauchi State Commissioner of Police, Alhaji Mohammed Ladan, said a suicide bomber who drove a Honda Civic car, attempted to force his way into the Church, hitting a barricade.
The commissioner said: “A lone suicide bomber in a Honda Civic attempted to force his way into the iron barricade at the entrance of Living Faith Church, Ungwan Angas, Yelwa, Bauchi, but was denied entry.
“In the process, the suicide bomber detonated his explosives at the barrier opposite Harvest Church, Ungwan Yelwa.
“The suicide bomber died on the spot, while nine persons so far have been confirmed dead and 27 others are receiving treatment at Abubakar Tafawa Balewa Teaching Hospital, Bauchi.”
He explained that only one of the two churches located in the area was affected by the blast.
He also said that one live Improvised Explosive Device, IED, hidden under a bridge in Yelwa area of Bauchi was discovered and detonated by Police Anti-Bomb Squad.
Ladan said no arrest was made, but that investigations had commenced with a view to fishing out perpetrators of the act.
The police commissioner called on people of the state to remain calm and be law-abiding, pleading with them to also assist security agents with information that could help in apprehending dubious characters.
He also called on parents, guardians, religious and traditional leaders, to prevail on their wards and followers to keep the peace.
An eyewitness said: “We only saw half of the suicide bomber’s body. We saw his legs down to his waist, but his head and some parts of his body was burnt beyond recognition.”
They said the explosion ignited a fire which burnt part of the church building, causing it to collapse on the worshippers inside the church. Several people sustained injuries as a result of the fire.
Many of the injured persons were rushed to the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa Teaching Hospital, Bauchi, and are currently receiving treatment.
Meanwhile, the Bauchi State government has condemned the attack on the church, describing it as callous.
Reacting to the attack, Mr. Ishola Michael, Chief Press Secretary to Governor Isa Yuguda, said such act was not in the best interest of the state and the country.
He said the government received the news of the incident with shock and disbelief, noting that the perpetrators were cowards.
He urged all those with grievances to embrace dialogue, stressing the need for people to embrace peace.