Nigerians are reacting with anger and apprehension to Monday’s suicide car bomb explosion in Kano that claimed the lives of over 40 passengers of buses bound for the southern parts of the country.
The general anger was followed Wednesday with more violence as no less than 11 people were killed in the village of Mavo in Wase, the headquarters of Wase Local Council of volatile Plateau State. The Mavo village attack was believed to be a reaction to the killing of 10 people in two separate incidents in January this year followed by the shooting death of two people near Wase Rock last Sunday night.
Sources said Wednesday that following Sunday’s fatal shooting of the two, both of them Tarok men, one Hausa man was killed on Monday in what appeared to be taking a religious dimension which was followed on Tuesday by the killing of four more Tarok men.
According to the sources: “the siege to Mavo is believed to have been perpetrated by Tarok people in what has become a bloody chain of attacks and counter-attacks by the contending forces.”
But, the figures given of casualties differed widely between three and 35. Another source who put the figure of the dead at three said the victims, two Fulani adults and a young boy were shot dead when a group of assailants stormed the village around 6 a.m. but were later repelled by some youths from the village who cordoned the area before the arrival of security personnel.
The source, a youth leader who identified himself as Shafi’i Sambo, explained: “I saw three corpses, two adults and a child and three thatched houses that were burnt down. The youths were able to chase away the assailants until the coming of re-enforcement from the soldiers.”
Sambo, a Fulani, who said he was one of those who conveyed military personnel stationed in the area to the village, added: “The military personnel stationed here have only one car so we had to use private cars to convey them to the village. But around 11 a.m., 10 additional vehicles with soldiers from the STF Headquarters in Jos were deployed to the village.”
The Assistant Secretary of Wase chapter of the Miyetti-Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) who said he was not sure of the number of the dead said most sources put the number at nine. “I cannot be certain about the number yet, but many people say they are up to nine.”
Reacting to the incident yesterday, Special Task Force (STF) in a statement by its spokesman, Captain Salisu Ibrahim Mustapha, declared that three people had been arrested in relation to the incident. He was quiet about the number of casualties. He, however, asked for time to make some verification. Up till the time of filing this report, nothing had been heard from him.
He said: “At about 4:30 a.m., the STF received a distress call by some members of Mavo community in Wase Local Government Area that unknown gunmen attempted to overrun the community.”
But the Plateau State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Chris Olakpe, put the figure at eight even as he also assured that the situation had been brought under control.
Tension was also building up in the south eastern commercial city of Onitsha as northerners who fled their residences following the deadly Kano blast were yet to return to their various homes.
They ran for safety following a rumour that a reprisal was planned by some persons over Kano bomb blast.
Northerners are said to have crowded in the army barracks and the various police stations in Onitsha and refusing to return to their homes.
The popular foodstuff market and other areas where Northerners carried out their businesses including the bridgehead market, Ose area, Okwodu areas of the commercial city had their shops deserted.
In an interview, one Aliyu Mohammed said in Onitsha they were still living in fear and were not in a hurry to leave.
According to one Mr. Dike Ozor, they became frightened that members of the public, particularly the Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) and other people in the state would take up arms against them.
But the leader of the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB), Chief Ralph Uwazuruike, has assured that there would not be reprisal in the entire South East and called for calm.
The group, Igbo Youth Movement also warned individuals and groups who are planning rallies of any kind against the Kano bus station bomb blasts to stop such a move immediately.
The spokesman of the Anambra State Police Command, DSP Emeka Chukwuemeka, said that no body was killed in Onitsha and there was no reprisal against anybody.
He said that the command had deployed police personnel throughout the state, especially Onitsha to ensure there is peace.
On its part, the apex Igbo socio-cultural organization, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, has called on Igbo people to appropriately and effectively organize themselves to collectively defend their lives and property.
Ohanaeze said this had become necessary based on what it termed the “organised pogrom” against the Igbo.
In a statement in Enugu yesterday by Ohanaeze’s Secretary General Dr. Joe Nwaorgu, the group condemned the action of both the sponsors and the perpetrators of the Kano killings. It lamented that the Igbo were paying the heaviest price for Nigeria’s unity.
Also, Arewa leaders and members of the apex Islamic organization in the north, Jama’atu Nasril Islam (JNI), condemned the bombing in Kano, noting that the design of the insurgents behind the atrocity was to envelop the whole nation in crisis.
They urged all Nigerians and the government to condemn the Kano bombing, while urging that those behind the unfortunate incident should be fished out for severe punishment.
The statement signed by its National Secretary General, Dr. Khalid Abubakar Aliyu condemned the blast, saying “Jama’atu Nasril Islam (JNI) under the leadership of the Sultan of Sokoto and President-General, once again condemned in the strongest terms the bomb blast that occurred in Kano.”
In view of the terror attacks in the country, the Senate Wednseday urged Nigeria’s Federal Government to consider other options and strategies that would be effective in tackling terrorism.
Describing multiple explosions that left dozens dead in Kano early this week as regrettable, the country’s Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, said it was high time government tackled the security challenge headlong.
Ekweremadu, who presided over the Senate, also expected relevant Senate committees to critically appraise the entire scenario with a view to making positive input.
Meanwhile, members of the Igbo community in Kano State have rejected the mass burial for victims of bomb blasts. They insisted on retrieving the bodies for their relatives for proper burial.
They have also, through Senator Uche Chukwumerije, Abia North, requested that security be tightened in the state to protect all citizens and that the Federal Government should directly manage whatever monetary compensation to be allocated relatives of the dead. According to them, they do not trust the power of the state government to do so.
Senators Uche Chukwumerije (Abia North) and Kabir Gaya, Kano (South), under Order 43, expressed concern over government’s inability to combat the ugly trend of insecurity in the country.
Chukwumerije, who alleged that the situation was assuming ethnic and regional dimensions, called for immediate action to forestall likely exploitation of the circumstances by enemies of the state, whose primary objective is to pit the various ethnic groups in the country against one another.
In his presentation, Gaya recalled that Kano was a hub for the Igbo people for years and insisted that some forces were deployed to create disunity between the North and the South.
The Nigerian Senate observed a minute silence in honour of those who lost their lives in the Kano blast.
Angered by the violence, former Governor of Lagos State, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu has urged President Goodluck Jonathan to immediately resign for his failure to curtail the incessant insecurity challenges in the country.
Tinubu spoke in an interview with journalists at the Malam Aminu Kano International Airport, after paying a sympathy visit to the Kano emir over an attack on him recently, and the state governor.
The leader of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), also urged the Federal Government to consider dialogue with the Jama’atu Ahlissunnah Lidda’awati Wal Jihad, popularly called Boko Haram, with the condition that justice must be done for those with blood in their hands.
He urged that the Police Affairs Ministry should be scrapped, adding that the existence of the ministry was nothing more than a duplication of the role of the Police Affairs Commission.
And as an indication of the increasing insecurity, a police patrol vehicle was ambushed in Sabon Titi by Madobi road, in Kumbotso local government in Kano, a few kilometres away from the city yesterday.
It happened around 9.30 a.m. While the police patrol vehicle was taking personnel to their duty posts, some unknown gunmen attacked the police team and started shooting at them sporadically.
Police repelled the attack instantly, which made the attackers to take to their heels. In the shoot-out, three civilians were hit by stray bullets. That caused some minor injuries to them.
Also, the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Ikeja branch yesterday gave President Goodluck Jonathan a seven-day ultimatum within which to address the nation on what his administration has done or doing to end the orgy of violence being perpetrated by Boko Haram.
The association said if the president failed or refused to heed the demand, it would be left with no other option than to advise Nigerians to prepare to hold a people’s national conference outside government to decide their destinies independently.
Addressing a press conference in Ikeja, Lagos the chairman of the branch, Monday Ubani, said the association was piqued by the continued killing of innocent Nigerians by members of Boko Haram.
Meanwhile, the Niger State chapter of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) has commended the performance of the state police command in securing lives and property,
The Chairman of the party in the state Dr. Abdulrahaman Enagi who gave the commendation when he paid a courtesy call on the state Police Commissioner Mrs. Disere Nsirin in her office in Minna yesterday noted that people from diverse nationalities resident in the state had been carrying out their official businesses without any fear of molestation as result of the activities of the police.
African Media Agency