About 90 people were yesterday feared killed while scores sustained varied degrees of injuries in multiple explosions that rocked the Kano City Central Jumaat Mosque, Kano State.
Though no group had claimed responsibility for the attack which was followed by sporadic gunfire at the time of going to press it bore the mark of Islamist insurgents group, Boko Haram.
As is typical of most crisis situations in the country, there have been conflicting figures of the casualties in yesterday’s attack. While some witnesses put the figure of those who lost their lives at over hundred, others insisted that over 200 people may have been killed in the terror attack which is one of the worst in the history of terror attacks in the commercial city.
Kano city central mosque is the oldest in the entire northern region and was built about 100 years ago. It is the mosque where all the Kano emirs go to observe the five daily prayers and jumaat prayers, including the present Emir, Muhammad Sanusi II.
The bomb attacks widely believed to have been targeted at the Emir of Kano, Muhammad Sanusi, comes on the heels of calls by the emir on citizens to defend themselves against Boko Haram.
Eyewitnesses told LEADERSHIP Weekend that shortly after the commencement of the jumaat prayer, a Toyota caravan drove and parked at the emir’s Palace Road close to the city mosque and about five young boys and a woman alighted from the car before the car exploded with a loud sound.
Confirming the incident, the deputy commissioner of police in the state, Samuel Lemu said 35 people died while 150 others were injured from the attack, a sharp contrast with the figures reported by witnesses and rescue officials.
The police chief who arrived at the scene of the blast an hour after the explosion, told journalists that one of the suicide bombers detonated an explosive while trying to get into the inner part of the mosque, while the other got half way into the mosque before he detonated his explosive. He said that two AK 47 guns were recovered from the scene.
An eyewitness, Idris Bello, 25, said he heard three loud explosions simultaneously before he saw huge smoke coming out of the centre of the mosque.
Idris confirmed to have seen a young boy with a gun shooting sporadically, killing many people and leaving several others with injuries, adding that several more people, especially children, were killed in the stampede that followed the bomb and gun attacks.
Another witness, Mukhtari Mudi told LEADERSHIP Weekend that some angry worshippers got hold of one of the gunmen, lynched and burnt his body.
Our reporter who was at the scene saw three dead bodies on fire at the mosque premises.
Mudi stated that he saw a young boy from a distance on top of one of the mosque’s pillars with a gun, shooting at those who tried to flee from the bombs.
It was a mad house at the Nassarawa Hospital where hundreds of those injured were taken for treatment, when our correspondent visited. The hospital was already over flooded with victims of the blast and those who could not find space were being attended to by doctors and nurses under trees while others were on the bare floor, lying helplessly, waiting for their turn. Some of the victims died while doctors attended to them.
The situation was not different at the Murtala Muhammad Specialist Hospital where dozens of corpses that didn’t find space in the morgue were left lying in the open.
Hospital sources said the death toll could still go up as some victims who lost huge amounts of blood may not survive in view of the fact that the hospitals had run out of blood.
Meanwhile, there was apprehension in the city yesterday, following the attacks as families went in search of their loved ones who had gone to the mosque to pray just as angry youths protested on the streets of the city, in the vicinity of the attack.
Soldiers defuse bomb Maiduguri
Meanwhile, there was heightened tension in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital, as the military defused an explosive found by residents. The explosive was found in the part of the city known as “Customs.” Residents said the bomb was targeted at worshippers at a nearby mosque, in Gamboru market area where a remote controlled device was allegedly found.
The detonation of the bomb was said to have heightened fears among the panic-stricken residents of the city.
After successfully detonating the bomb, soldiers conducted house-to-house searches in some parts of the state capital yesterday morning.
Jonathan orders full-scale investigation
President Goodluck Jonathan has directed the security agencies to launch a full-scale investigation on the bomb explosion at Kano Central Mosque.
A statement issued by presidential spokesman, Dr Reuben Abati last night noted that the president ordered the security agents not to leave any stone unturned “until all agents of terror undermining the right of every citizen to life and dignity, are tracked down and brought to justice”.
Noting that Jonathan expressed his heartfelt condolences to the people and government of Kano State over the attack, Abati said, “he commiserates with all the families who lost their loved ones. The President calls on relief agencies and medical personnel to deploy every possible effort to assist the injured, and the general public to heed the call for the donation of blood by the hospitals where the injured are being treated.
“The President reaffirms that terrorism in all its forms and manifestation is a despicable and unjustifiable threat to our society. He reiterates the determination of the government to continue to take every step to put an end to the reprehensible acts of all groups and persons involved in acts of terrorism,” the statement read in part.
“President Jonathan called on all Nigerians not to despair in this moment of great trial in our nation’s history but to remain united to confront the common enemy,” it added.
The President expressed confidence that no terrorist act against fellow citizens will destroy the Nigerian spirit to remain positive, resolute and united in the quest for lasting peace and security in the country and appealed to all Nigerians to remain vigilant and cooperate actively with our security agencies to win the on-going war against.
Meanwhile, the President also put off a scheduled Nollywood event which was hosted in his honour at Eko Hotels in Lagos yesterday night.
The President had visited Ile Ife in Osun State from where he proceeded to Lagos to attend the event titled “Creativity: Moving Nigeria Forward. An evening with President Jonathan.” He however chose to remain at the State House, Marina to mourn victims of the Kano last while the event went on.
He was represented by Minister of Culture and Tourism, Edem Duke at the event which took place yesterday night.
PDP mourns, postpones House of Assembly primaries In Kano
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has expressed shock over yesterday’s bomb attack that claimed the lives of innocent citizens worshipping at the Kano Central Mosque, describing it as “very painful.”
PDP National Publicity Secretary, Olisa Metuh in a statement said the party was grief-stricken when it received the news of the gruesome attack “especially considering that the victims were harmless Nigerians who were at the mosque to offer prayers and express their allegiance and love for the Almighty God.”
The party, in solidarity with the people of Kano state postponed its state House of Assembly primaries slated for Saturday, November 29, in the state while praying God to comfort the bereaved and bring enduring peace to the nation.
“Indeed, our hearts ache for our brothers and sisters who were slaughtered in this horrible attack. We grieve for the bereaved, especially those who have been widowed and orphaned today. We share in their sorrows and pray that those behind this atrocious act must not escape justice.”
The party lamented that victims of the incessant attacks in the country were productive citizens who were making useful contributions for the growth and development of the nation.
Calling on those behind the attacks to have a rethink and embrace peace, the PDP said the nation would have been a better place if the human and material resources as well as the time and energy wasted as a result of the security challenges were channelled towards national development. It also urged the citizens not to lose faith but continue to remain vigilant and co-operate with the Government and security agencies as they strive to find a lasting solution to the security challenges.
NGF, Tambuwal condemn attack
Northern States Governors Forum (NSGF) Chairman and Governor of Niger state, Dr. Mu’azu Babangida Aliyu has condemned the terror attack on a Mosque in Kano, where Emir Muhammadu Sanusi ll worships regularly on Fridays.
In a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Israel Ebije, expressed sadness at the way and manner security challenges in the Northern States has taken a turn for the worse in recent times saying no one is spared.
Aliyu said the attack on the mosque where Emir Sanusi ll worships is another sombre reminder of how much disregard those behind terror attacks in the North have on the traditional institution and on the sanctity of human lives.
He said the position of Sanusi II on the need to protect communities against those perpetuating violence must remain sacrosanct adding that nobody should be intimidated by evil perpetrators as good will surely triumph over evil.
The chairman of the forum while commiserating with the government and people of Kano state urged them to remain committed in the fight against terror.
He however maintained that the war against terrorism is not an exclusive preserve of security operatives but everybody’s business, adding that it is time to place everybody under high security.
Aliyu who decried the continuous turnover in human and material loss on account of terror attacks said the trend must stop by all means necessary. He insisted that Nigerians are not violent people and as such, the few involved in evil practices must be fished out and punished.
Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, also condemned the multiple blasts and condoled with the government and people of Kano, describing the attacks as despicable and acts of cowardice.
In a statement signed by his special adviser on media and public affairs, Malam Imam Imam, Tambuwal advised citizens to be extra vigilant, adding that the synergy between the security agencies and the larger populace should be strengthened with a view to apprehending trouble makers before they strike.
According to him, efforts to tackle the war on terrorism are only as good as the intelligence gathered and as such, more needs to be done to pre-empt future attacks.
“In that regard, the House of Representatives will continue to play its part to support the security agencies and both the federal and state governments to find lasting solutions to the problem,” the Speaker stated.
While condoling with the government and people of Kano over the attacks, Tambuwal appealed to all citizens to open their hearts and come to the aide of those injured.
North-east: panic as renewed attacks claim over 200
Nine days after the third phase of the state of emergency rule in the three northeast Nigerian states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe came to an end amidst rancorous controversy as to whether it should be extended or be shelved for its apparent failure to remedy the situation that has even worsened, panic among residents in the three states has heightened as at least 210 lives have been claimed in renewed attacks.
While the debate on whether to extend the emergency rule as proposed by the federal government of Nigeria rages, the Boko Haram terrorists have not only sustained hostilities on the beleaguered citizens of the affected states but have become more bestial in their attacks.
This is even as the military authorities have assured that all planned operations in counter terrorism campaigns are ongoing without any hitch.
Direct of defence information, Major Gen Chris Olukolade who stated this yesterday said the tempo of military activities in the north east states had been sustained, adding that political authorities would determine any necessary change.
From last Thursday, November 20 when the emergency rule officially till date, at least 210 persons have been killed by the rampaging terrorists in the affected states – a situation that has left both government and Nigerians petrified on the best approach to adopt to quell the undermining antics of the Boko Haram terrorists.
The above figure represents the visible attacks carried out by the terrorists, even as many others pockets of killings arsons and even sack of villages and hamlets are not being accounted for due to lack of official confirmation.
LEADERSHIP Weekend reports that recent attacks carried out by Boko Haram were done without any reported attempts by the military to go after the attackers or repel same.
On Friday November 21, suspected Boko Haram gunmen invaded a Doron-Baga fishing community in Kukawa local government, Borno state where they displayed the depth of their savagery by rounding up a group of fishermen tired from an all-night fishing expedition, bound all of them and slit their throats one after the other.
It was reported that 48 of the attacked fishermen were killed by the knives of the Boko Haram gunmen who chose not to use their guns in order not to attract the attention of the soldiers of the Multi-National Joint Task Force stationed in Baga. Some eight other victims whose corpses were found floating in the river, were said to have been forcefully drowned because their local charms had defied the Boko Haram knives that kept gliding upon their skins.
“According to the reports we have so far received from our members in Baga, the killed fishermen were returning back from a fishing expedition they set out for on Thursday night,” said Muhammed Abbas Gava, the spokesman of the Nigeria Vigilante Group in Borno state.
The vigilante official who made this confirmation while speaking with journalists on phone in Maiduguri added that, “the gunmen forced them off their boats and at gunpoint, began to slaughter them one after the other and slaughtered 48 of them whose corpses our members found near the river, while corpses of 8 others whose necks had bruises were found floating near the river bank”.
“The bodies that were recovered from the river were of those whom we suspect the Boko Haram terrorists’ knives could not pierce through their skins, so they had to tie their legs and hands with ropes, and then dropped them into the river to die.”
Days after the Doron-Baga incident which had since sent many fishermen and farmers fleeing out of the troubled community, the gunmen visited and attacked yet another border community in northern Borno state, Damasak, where they shot dead at least 50 villagers and injured several others after looting their property and set their homes ablaze.
LEADERSHIP Weekend gathered that the said attackers disguised as traders going to the market in Damasak town but upon getting to the centre of the market, brought out their rifles and shot at helpless traders.
According to Bashir Salihu, a local trader, the deployment of soldiers in Damasak had to take to their heels upon seeing that the Boko Haram gunmen had killed some of their colleagues.
“They may have killed more than 50 people because they attacked a densely populated area of the town where most of the commercial activities do take place. Many houses have been burnt down as well as shops very close to the market area. We all had to run for our lives because even the soldiers that were armed fled before everyone.”
A day after the Damasak attack, Boko Haram went ahead to display their odious and unjustifiable attack on human lives when they used two teenage girls that were configured to function as messengers of death to detonate two separate explosives at a very crowded commercial area of Maiduguri, killing scores and injuring many others.
Though the state government officials and even the security operatives had said that the total casualty figure was 24, members of the Civilian-JTF and the vigilante operatives insisted that 64 persons were killed as a result of the bombings.
The Borno state Coordinator of Civilian-JTF, Abba Aji Kalli, told LEADERSHIP Weekend on phone that, “from what one of the survivors told me while being helped to get to the hospital, the bombers were two girls dressed in full hijab. One of them detonated herself and about three persons all women were killed and minutes after that, when people came round to see what happened, another bomb went off after a girl screamed and many people, over 30 of them got killed. We cannot say the exact figure for now because even before our arrival here, some of the corpses had been taken away, while some including that of the bombers were mangled beyond recognition.”
When casualty figures were later collated, it was gathered that apart from the dead victims, 54 persons were also injured in the suicide attacks.
In the same vein, suspected Boko Haram gunmen were reported to have attacked some communities near Chibok town where 219 schoolgirls were abducted in April this year, and killed at least 20 villagers in the villages of Kau-Natahi and Kalgamari.
Spokesman of the Nigeria Vigilante Group in Borno state, Muhammed Abbas Gava, told LEADERSHIP Weekend that “virtually every house in the two villages were burnt to ashes, while a total of 20 persons were killed in both villages of Kamtahi and Galtimari. And the villages were totally razed down as residents fled for their lives, some with injuries”, he said.
On Thursday, November 27, the gunmen were said to have attempted an attack on Kareto village of Borno state but were met with a fierce resistance from courageous members of the Civilian-JTF and local vigilante personnel who were able to kill about 30 of the terrorists.
Kareto, a northern Borno village located not far away from Niger borders is about 187kms away from Maiduguri, the state capital.
According to sources who witnessed the attack in Kareto, the Gunmen came to the village in trucks and upon motorcycles, all armed with Ak47 rifles, improvised explosive devices and petrol bombs.
Spokesman of the Borno Elders Forum, Bulama Mali Gubio, who spoke in an interview with journalists on Thursday, said, “there was huge success as some 30 members of Boko Haram who attempted to overrun Kareto, Gubio and other surrounding communities were killed by our volunteered youth.
“Already the affected areas are now calm as normal activities have since returned. But I want to call on the security authorities to intensify efforts to crush the menace of terrorists that have been ravaging the socio- economic activities in Borno and other parts of the North East subregion.”
As the National Assembly is expected to deliberate on the request advanced before them by the Presidency on the need to extended the state of emergency in the three states, many Nigerians especially those trapped in the three states look to forward a better government action, especially the one that would bring the spate of killings to a quick end.
Residents flee Gaidam, Yunusari Over Fear Of Attacks
Meanwhile, over 1000 residents of Gaidam and Yunusari local government areas have fled to Damaturu the state capital, Maiduguri in Borno State and neighbouring Niger Republic after threats of an attack by members of the Boko Haram sect.
Gaidam, the home town of Yobe State Governor, Alhaji Ibrahim Gaidam is about 245 kilo-metres from Damaturu.
A resident, Baba Aji Grema, who spoke to LEADERSHIP Weekend in Damaturu yesterday, said thousands of people from Gaidam and Yunusari local government areas had deserted the towns following rumours of an attack by the sect.
Another fleeing resident said that several residents including young and old person, as well as top government officials in the area had fled to the state capital.
“I have three wives and 15 children, both boys and girls but we cannot stay in the village because anything can happen. We heard that two letters informing of planned attacks after the attack on Damasak in Borno state were sent to the local government so we decided to relocate to Damaturu for some time,” the resident who craved anonymity said.
Sources also confirmed to our correspondent that many lorries and buses were seen moving people out of the local governments. loede with people moving out from the areas heading to Damarutu and Maiduguri of Borno state with their goods.
A resident of Gaidam, Musa Gaidam, who spoke with journalists on phone said, “I am speaking to you from Tawa in Niger Republic where we are taking refuge. We are not going back to stay where we come from. There is no security there and Boko Haram they can attack, bomb and kill us any time.”
A primary school teacher who fled from Yunusari local government, Bashir Abdul Kyari, said following the attack on Damasak where similar threats were made; it was unsafe to remain in the village.
Meanwhile, reacting to the ended state of emergency in the three north east states, a member of the House of Assembly representing Potiskum/ Nangere constiteuncy, Hon Ali Yakubu Mainasara, called on for immediate security assessment of the affected areas.
In Adamawa, mixed reactions have continued to trail the debate as to whether the emergency rule should be extended.
Adamawa state Governor, Bala Ngillari is one of those who have called on the National Assembly to approve the extension of the
emergency rule as demanded by President Goodluck Jonathan in order to consolidate on the achievements so far in curbing the insurgency.
A resident of Yola, John Elisha, in a reaction, said, “its a welcome development but the government needs to do more for a better result as we cannot just continue to extend the state of emergency without something positive to show for it.”
On her part, another resident, Maryam Ibrahim also supports the renewal but cautioned that measures that would bring positive results must be put in place to ensure that the state of emergency does not end up like the previous ones.
Lawyers Differ On Emergency Rule Extension
“The emergency rule imposed in some parts of the North-East has not in any way reduced the activities of insurgents in the country; rather, it has escalated it.” That was the view of a prominent lawyer, Malam Abubakar Malami, a senior advocate.
Malami, during a telephone interview told LEADERSHIP Weekend that there is no need for the extension of the emergency rule.
According to him, “imagine that under the emergency rule, the insurgents sacked or took over whole towns. The government should find a new way of tackling the insurgents and do away with the emergency rule because it has not helped in any way.”
Another lawyer, Okechukwu Uju-Azorji, on his part told LEADERSHIP Weekend that despite the expiration of the period for the emergency rule, the soldiers were still needed on the streets of some parts of the north east.
“They are still needed despite the fact that the emergency rule period has expired. With the emergency rule in place, the insurgents will be a bit restrained to unleash terror on civilians in the area. Irrespective of the fact that the emergency rule has not been extended, the soldiers are still needed to maintain peace. Their presence is not an abuse of the law despite that fact that the emergency rule has not been extended,” he added.
Red Cross Launches N480m Emergency Fund For Insurgency Victims
The International Red Cross said it had launched a N480 million emergency fund to support intervention programmes for victims of insurgency in the North East.
The Secretary-General of the Nigeria Red Cross Society, Mr Bello Diram, said this in a news conference in Abuja on Friday.
Diram said the fund was meant to address the serious humanitarian challenges created as a result of the insurgency in parts of the north east.
“The Nigeria Red Cross has been fully involved in the management of internally displaced people from the communities to camps set up by the government. The Nigeria Red Cross will continue to address the identified needs of the affected population in the North East which includes food and non food items, shelter, health water, and sanitation, psychosocial support, livelihood support and restoring family link. The overall objective of the emergency appeal is to assist 150,000 beneficiaries 50,000 people in each of the three targeted states of Adamawa, Borno, and Yobe,” he said.
He said that nearly 12,500 people per local government area in each state would benefit from community-based emergency health, water, sanitation and hygiene promotion, relief, psycho-social and livelihood support.
The secretary-general said the Nigeria Red Cross stood out as the only organisation that has unfettered access to almost everywhere in the north east.
Diram said the organisation had distributed relief materials and food items to victims of insurgency in Maiduguri.
According to him, the society in collaboration with its partners distributed 960 metric tons of items to 51,000 people in Maiduguri and that the organisation would, however, reach more people and communities if the resources were made available.
Diram appealed all Nigerians, international organisations within and outside Nigeria and the entire international community.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the insurgents have created serious humanitarian crisis in the region by the surge in attacks on communities.