Fresh facts emerged yesterday, on how members of the Jama’atu Ahliss-Sunnah Lidda’awati Wal Jihad (Western education is evil) , Otherwise known as Boko Haram, were able to perpetrate Friday’s dastardly bombing that claimed about 12 lives and injuring many more at the Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs, camp in Malkohi, Yola, Adamawa State.
In separate interviews, eye witnesses and returnees, resident in the camp, said some Boko Haram members masquerading as IDPs were inadvertently brought into the camp on Thursday, some 24 hours before the camp bombing.
They revealed that some of the persons, brought into the camp from Sambisa Forest, were the prime suspects in the bombing.
One of the eye witnesses, Mr. Sunday Musa, told Sunday Vanguard that camp inmates were preparing to have breakfast when the blast occurred.
Musa explained that he and other inmates who had stayed long enough in Malkohi camp, had not been comfortable whenever new inmates were, brought in, confirming that there was a protest in the camp, sometime in March, when some IDPs were brought from Sambisa Forest. “Our fears were that we in camp know one another; we know where we came from; and for the military to just bring unknown faces to join us, especially from Sambisa Forest, has always been very disturbing to us”.
“Now”, he continued, “see what has happened. Unknown IDPs were brought in yesterday and there is bomb blast today. Who do you think is responsible?”
Sunday Vanguard discovered that the influx of IDPs, who may not have been properly screened before being allowed into the camp, was a possibility.
Another inmate, who preferred anonymity, disclosed that the bombing was not carried out by the usual drive-by instance or a suicide bomber who drove straight into the camp.
He added: “From the way the bomb exploded and the very stern nature of the work of the military here, it may have been smuggled into the camp much earlier.”
NEMA Camp Coordinator in Adamawa State, Sa’ad Bello, suspected that the blast might have originated from the over 300 IDPs brought into the camp that Thursday morning from Madagali and 70 others from Sambisa Forest.
The coordinator confirmed that the number of dead might be higher because of the seriousness of those injured.
Also at the scene of the blast, the North-East Coordinator of the Red Cross Society, Mallam Aliyu Maikano, who collaborated with his NEMA counterpart, described the situation as unfortunate.
An eyewitness, Malama Nefisatu Goni, who escaped the blast by the whiskers, narrated that she left the scene not quite ten minutes before the incident.
According to her, women always gathered in tents to make their hair and she just went there to try and make hers but was told to come back because of the busy schedule of the operators and the queue on standby.
“As I was moving from there”, Goni, a widow, narrated in an emotion-laden voice, “not quite long afterwards, I heard a loud bang only to see the debris of the tents flying everywhere”.
Earlier this year, the military authorities uncovered telephone conversations between some female IDPs and their male counterparts from Sambisa Forest at the camp – they turned out to be members of the Boko Haram. This discovery happened at the Malkohi camp and almost all the occupants were evacuated to an unknown destination via a military aircraft within 24hours.
And as if in an unholy coincidence with the September 11 bombing anniversary in New York, members of Jama’atu Ahliss-Sunnah Lidda’awati Wal Jihad struck at Malkohi Camp.
Friday’s bomb blast came barely three months after the first explosion hit Yola, claiming over 34 lives and injuring many more.
The latest bomb blast appeared to have taken the military by surprise and security analysts are puzzled about how such a magnitude of bomb could have been smuggled into or kept in the camp without being detected.
Now, the big question is, how safe are the IDP camps located in Damare, Fufore and Saint Theresa Catholic Cathedral in Adamawa State? Is the military in full control of the camps to guarantee the safety of thousands of the IDPs there?
Then, there is also concern for political and religious leaders, heads of corporate organisations and private individuals who continue to contribute to make life meaningful for the victims of terror? Will these people be safe going to the camps?
That is not all.
There are national and international humanitarian bodies interested in the welfare of the IDPs. Will their personnel be secure enough to do their jobs as required considering the risk associated with the IDP camps these days?
Adamawa State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Gabriel Adaji, who was at the scene of the Friday blast, declared that security will be beefed–up in Malkohi camp. The Police Commissioner maintained that rigorous screening will be enforced at all IDP camps in the state henceforth.
Adaji also suspected that the new IDPs, received into the camp on Thursday, might have beaten security due to their numerical strength.
Saraki condemns bombing
*Commiserates with Saudi Arabia authorities over Mecca tragedy
Meanwhile, Senate President Bukola Saraki has expressed shock over the Yola bombing.
Saraki also commiserated with the Saudi Arabian authorities and the Muslim Ummah over the construction crane that crashed into Mecca’s Grand Mosque, the Kabbah, killing at least 107 people, with scores more injured, days before the commencement of this year’s hajj. The Senate President, in a statement from his media office, condemned, in strong terms, the Yola blast, saying the inhuman act could only have been perpetrated by sadists and evil people now facing imminent defeat.
“Our troops have demonstrated in no unmistakable terms that they are ready to keep a date with the December ultimatum given to the newly decorated Service Chiefs to crush the insurgents by President Muhammadu Buhari”, he stated. He also bemoaned the Saudi Arabia mosque tragedy and the attendant loss of lives and destruction coming two weeks to a period when hundreds of thousands of Islamic faithful are expected to gather at the holy mosque for this year’s pilgrimage.
“My heart goes out to those who lost their lives. I pray for quick recovery for the injured,” Saraki stated.
A callous aggravation of a bad situation – Ekweremadu
Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, also condemned the IDP camp bombing.
Ekweremadu said it was bad enough that hapless Nigerians were forced out and dislocated from their homes, but that it was even a worse act of man’s inhumanity to man for anyone to attack and kill them at their temporary shelters.
He conveyed heartfelt condolences to the affected families as well as the government and people of Adamawa State, but insisted that the nation would never succumb to the evil agenda of the insurgents.
The statement signed by his Special Adviser, Media, Uche Anichukwu, read in part:
“They want to break our resolve, but I urge the people of the North East and indeed the entire nation to remain resolute in the collective resolve to tackle and put the problem of insurgency behind us.
Ekweremadu had, after his return from his visit to the Adamawa IDPs camps, last August, dispatched over N9 million worth of relief materials to the IDPs.