On 23 April, the Kaduna State Police Command reported that following the bomb explosion in the Rafin Guza area of Kaduna city on 22 April, it had arrested a key operative of the extremist Islamist sect Boko Haram and 7 others, and also seized already manufactured explosives and other weapons that were in their possession.
At a news conference, the state Commissioner of Police, Mr. Haruna John, stated that in response to the explosion at about 6pm on 22 April, Police and Airforce patrol teams raced to the building where the blast occurred, which is located at No 5 Matazu Road, Rafin Guza, and is allegedly owned by one Alhaji Idris Abdullahi of Dan Ama Road, Rigachikum.
He said the security operatives immediately arrested three suspects and evacuated the corpse of one Ismail Ibrahim from Kano State, who was killed by the blast. He further stated that with information provided by responsible members of the public, another suspect and victim of the blast, who had fled in a Honda Civic car immediately after the explosion, was traced to where he had gone for medical treatment and was arrested.
The police chief said that on interrogation, the arrested suspects made useful statements which led to the arrest of five others, who had also been involved in the bomb making operations. He added that one of those arrested was found to be a notorious operative of a sect (Boko Haram), earlier declared wanted in connection with incidents of terror in Bauchi and Borno States.
Bombs and other weapons recovered
CP John further reported that on searching the building in which the blast occured, the police Anti-bomb Squad found and seized three locally-made but highly-charged bombs, capable of causing extensive destruction. In his words: “Our Anti-bomb Squad personnel, while combing the vicinity, recovered from various rooms, three highly charged, locally-made bombs in vegetable oil gallons, and in a steel casing. These high-calibre explosives are capable of causing massive destruction. Arrangements are being made to destroy them in a safe atmosphere immediately”.
Other items recovered from the building were two LAR riffles already loaded with live ammunition, cocked and ready to be fired; four locally-made pistols, two locally-made dane guns cut to size, three machetes, one green military belt, one international passport, various identity cards, a red Honda Civic car with registration number AZ 632KDA and a flag of a political party.
The 22 April explosion was the fifth in Kaduna within the month of April. On 7 April, two blasts in Mahuta, a suburb of Kaduna metropolis, killed one man and wounded another.
On 16 April, shortly after the end of voting in the presidential election, two bombs went off, first at the Happy Night hotel in Kabala West and then at Magajin Gari Sharia Court 1. The Commissioner of Police said the explosion near the Magajin Gari Sharia Court was so powerful that it could have killed hundreds, if it had been detonated during a busy hour.
Investigations in Progress
Police sources in Kaduna say the state Police Command is working round the clock, and leaving no stone unturned, in its efforts to apprehend those behind the bomb blasts. On 17 April, the Police Commissioner paraded 5 suspects in connection with the blasts, 4 of them nationals of the Republic of Niger, Nigeria’s northern neighbour. One of them was said to have made particularly “useful statements” about the explosion at Happy Night Hotel.
CP John said the police, State Security Service (SSS) and the military are jointly investigating the most recent incident. He also mentioned that a high-powered team of experts and specialists formed by the Inspector-General of Police, would soon arrive in Kaduna, to take over the investigations. The goal, he said, is to fish out all members of the terror network, including their sponsors.
On 12 March, the Nigeria Police Force refuted the claims made by the military Special Task Force (STF) the previous day, over the seizure of a truck that was carrying bomb-making materials from Kaduna to Jos.
While the STF spokesman, Captain Charles Ekeocha had briefed newsmen that the movement of the materials was suspicious on several counts and therefore under investigation, the Commissioner of Police in charge of the Anti-Bomb Squad, Mr. Ambrose Aisabor, has said the movement of the materials was in order, as it was duly authorized by the anti-bomb squad.
Aisabor said the company that owned the consignment was duly licensed by the Ministry of Solid Minerals Development to deal in explosives for commercial purposes. He said the materials were being moved from the company’s warehouse in Kaduna to the one in Jos.
He further explained that the movement of the materials from one state to another was legal and that all the documents which the driver presented to the STF men were genuine.
Aisabor said the law allows only men of the Anti-Bomb Squad (Explosives Ordinance Depot) to escort such consignment to its final destination. Accordingly, he said, the constable who was escorting the truck at the time it was seized was properly authorized to do so, and the policeman had his identity card on him at the time the soldiers seized the truck and arrested him. He said the fact that the constable was not wearing his uniform at the time, could be dealt with departmentally.
He added that when the truck was impounded, just 200 metres to its destination at Mister Ali village, one of his officers intervened to give the STF a clear account of the movement, but that he was rebuffed by the soldiers. He said: “I was made to understand that one of my officers asked the driver to give the phone to the soldiers who intercepted the truck to speak to them, but they refused”.
Aisabor said STF was being mischievous by going public with its claims, even when one of his officers had intervened to tell them the true position. He therefore dismissed the STF’s earlier report as “cheap propaganda”, adding that “they (the STF) have only succeeded in deceiving themselves”.
Alhaji Bashir Ahmed, manager of Duwam Company Limited, the owners of the consignment, also corroborated the police account. Speaking on telephone from his Kaduna base, he told journalists that the company had been in legitimate business for many years, and that the materials the STF seized were being moved from the company’s warehouse in Kaduna to Jos.
Jos, the Plateau State capital, has in recent times, witnessed recurrent waves of violence, bombing incidents and nocturnal attacks on predominantly Christian villages by suspected Muslim Fulani herdsmen. Particularly since January 2010, hundreds have been killed, while property worth millions of naira has been destroyed.
The STF’s report of the seizure had raised hopes that perhaps the security forces were on the verge of unmasking some of the allegedly highly-placed sponsors of the violence. The bickering and confusion between the STF and the Police has not only dampened that hope, but also raises serious concerns about inter-agency coordination and cooperation in the management of internal security.
As Aisabor himself said: “This is what we mean when we say that there is no co-operation and synergy between the security agencies”.
On 18 February, men of the Anti-Bomb Squad of the Enugu State Police Command detected and removed a bomb planted by unknown persons at the venue where Governor Sullivan Chime was to flag off his electoral campaign in Enugu, just a few hours before the commencement of the event.
The State Police Commissioner, Mr. Job Danazumi Doma, told reporters after the event held at Okpara Square, Enugu, that the“locally-made bomb” which was planted under the VIP pavilion where the governor and other dignitaries normally sit, was intended to cause havoc during the rally.
He explained that once the bomb was detected by men of the Anti-Bomb Squad, it was immediately neutralized and evacuated to the Police Headquarters, while the entire venue was properly swept with detectors before the event started. The rally went ahead and was completed without any security breach.