On 22 January, at least 10 persons, including a soldier and a policeman, were confirmed killed by gunmen in early morning attacks on a community in Tafawa Balewa town, Bauchi State. Tafawa Balewa is 86km south-west of the state capital, Bauchi city.
Early reports had said the attackers targeted a police station and that the police repelled the attack, followed by prolonged gunfire, apparently from a duel between the attackers and security forces. But an update confirmed a community was also targeted, with at least 10 people killed and 12 wounded.
Barrister Bukata Zhadi, an elder and community leader in the largely Christian Sayawa ethnic group, said several persons were still unaccounted for. “We are going round the town checking”, he said. “So far, we have ten people dead and 12 wounded”.
Providing some details of the incident, he said the attackers threw improvised hand grenades into houses in the community while people were still sleeping, and shot at those trying to flee.
Police later responded to the attacks. The Police Public Relations Officer in the state, Mr Mohammed Barau said: “In the exchange of fire that ensued, a policeman, a soldier and eight unidentified civilians were killed by stray bullets”. It is not clear whether these were the same as the 10 casualties Zhadi had mentioned. The police spokesman said six suspects had been arrested.
Zhadi, who is the Secretary of the Sayawa Elders’ Council, said witnesses believe the attackers were Muslim Hausa-Fulani. The predominantly Christian Sayawa have had a long history of conflicts with Muslim Hausa-Fulani in the area. On 27 January 2011, suspected Hausa-Fulani invaders sacked about 50 villages in the Tafawa Balewa and Bagoro Local Government Areas of the state. Over the three-month period leading up to 19 November 2011, a total of 12 people were killed in several attacks on Gangere village in Bogoro Local Government Area.
In other updates, the three explosions heard in the state capital, Bauchi, around 2.30 am, are said not to have been bomb blasts. Early reports had suggested they were probably part of an attack by the militant Islamist group widely known as Boko Haram, but some later reports said they were caused when a faulty electric transformer blew up.
In the early hours of Sunday, 22 January, several explosions were reported in Bauchi Township, capital of Bauchi State, and in some other towns in the state, in attacks launched by suspected members of the militant Islamist group widely known as Boko Haram.
In the state capital, residents said they heard three explosions around 2.30 am, two around IBB Square and a third around Jahun area.
Another report said the attackers also targeted a police station in Tafawa Balewa Local Government Area. They said the attack was followed by prolonged gunfire, apparently from a duel between the attackers and government security forces. A military checkpoint was also reportedly attacked by gunmen at Marar Rabar Liman Katagun.
A police source in Bauchi State confirmed an explosion near the railway line in Bauchi Township as well as the attack in the Tafawa Balewa area. He however said it was too early to ascertain casualties.
The attacks have heightened tensions in Bauchi township, which was already on edge. Another Islamic sect known as Jama’atul Izalatul Bid ah Wa Ikamatus Sunnah (or JIBWIS for short), and opposed to the doctrine and tactics of Boko Haram, was already holding its annual conference in the town.
On 11 January, the National Leader of JIBWIS, Sheikh Muhammad Sani, condemned the recent attacks on places of worship and charged security forces to bring the perpetrators to book. He said: “The creation of the sect (Boko Hram) was politically motivated, to cause disharmony in the country and paint Islam and Muslims black”.
On 16 August, a senior army officer, Brig Gen Muraina Raji, was arraigned before a Special Court Martial, over his alleged complicity in the escape of two detainees suspected to be members of the militant Islamist group widely known as Boko Haram.
According to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), the two detainees, arrested over an onslaught on Bauchi by the group last year, escaped from detention at the 33 Artillery Brigade, Bauchi, where Gen Raji served as Commander.
Inaugurating the six-member Special Court Martial, in Jos, the Plateau State capital, the General Officer Commanding (GOC), 3 Armoured Division, Maj Gen Sunday Idoko, said Raji was indicted for complicity by a military investigation report. The GOC implored the court to ensure that no effort was spared towards achieving justice for the accused, the Nigerian Army and the country, adding that fairness and impartiality should be upheld in the proceedings and the dispensation of justice.
However, Raji who was arraigned before the court martial objected to the composition of the military court. In particular, he argued against the inclusion of Brig Gen Agbo Robinson, as the “Waiting Member”. He said Robinson took over command of 33 Brigade after him and that “in the circumstances of the case, it will be prejudicial for him to be on the panel. Besides, all those appointed to testify against me are from his Command”.
Raji also objected to the membership of Lt. Col Bernard Okorie as the Judge Advocate, for the reason that Okorie had participated in filing the case against him. He said: “His position will make it difficult for him to do his job as freely as he should”.
Briefing newsmen on the incident, the police spokesman in Bauchi State, ASP Mohammed Barau, said: “Two people came on a motor cycle and threw explosives on policemen at a checkpoint and fled”.
He added that: “The five policemen injured during the bomb blast have been discharged from the hospital”. Officials of the Nigerian Red Cross confirmed that the wounded men were treated at the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University Teaching Hospital in Bauchi.
ASP Barau said no arrest had been made and no group had claimed responsibility. He said the situation was under control and advised residents to go about their lawful activities. He also urged members of the public to help police with useful information about the hideouts of criminals.
The blast occured a day after an armed group had ambushed a security patrol vehicle, and injured one policeman and a civilian in a gun duel, also in Bauchi.
On 19 July, clashes between opposing youth groups left at least five people dead and 12 seriously wounded in Jos, capital of Plateau State.
According to local sources, trouble began on Monday, after a carpenter named Dahiru Musa was invited to do a repair job for a resident of Angwan Rukuba district. He was later found dead, killed by unknown persons.
The killing of Dahiru, a Muslim, in the Christian-dominated Angwan Rukuba, led Muslims in the nearby Nassarawa Gwon and Bauchi road areas, to believe that he must have been lured to his death by a gang of Christian youths. Muslim youth mobilized for reprisals. The next morning, they took to the streets, marching towards Angwan Rukuba and attacking anyone they thought to be in the opposite camp, including passers-by who knew nothing of Dahiru’s death.
Captain Charles Ekeocha, Public Relations Officer of the military special task force in charge of security in the area, reports that five people were killed and 12 others seriously wounded in the clashes.
The city of Jos is located in the convergence belt between various ethnic and religious communities in Nigeria. Usually one of Nigeria’s most pleasant cities and officially tagged “Home of Peace and Tourism”, the metropolis and its environs have witnessed recurrent episodes of ethno-sectarian violence in recent years, with several hundreds killed since late 2009.
Sustained efforts, especially by security agencies, had calmed the violence in recent months, creating opportunities for long-term conflict resolution by governments and civil society groups. However, this most recent flash of violence underscores the unresolved tensions in the area and the challenge of building peace on an enduring basis.
On 13 July, the President of Civil Rights Congress of Nigeria, Mr Shehu Sani, expressed concern over the strategy currently being applied by the army, police and other security agencies in combating the activities of the militant Islamist group, Boko Haram. He urged the Federal Government to initiate a process of dialogue, urgently.
In an interview with the Lagos-based newspaper, The Guardian, Sani said he had received complaints and petitions from members of the public in Maiduguri, Bauchi and Kaduna States, alleging harassment, intimidation, violation of privacy, molestation and indiscriminate arrests by military and other security personnel.
He suggested major steps that need to be taken towards resolving the current security crisis in the north-eastern states. These, he said, include the setting up of a Government Contact Committee to dialogue with the group, and the government’s issuance of apology and payment of compensation to the family of the group’s leader, Mohammed Yusuf, who was executed extra-judicially by security forces in July 2009.
Other measures, he said, should be the establishment of a Federal Ministry for Peace and Religious Harmony; the dissolution and reconstitution of the Nigerian Inter-Religious Council (NIREC); and formal incorporation of all Islamic sects into the mainstream Islamic bodies.
Civil Rights Congress of Nigeria, based in Kaduna, is a coalition of about 37 human rights groups which are working mostly in the northern states of the country.
On 5 July, a group of armed men, suspected to be members of the militant Islamist sect, Boko Haram, invaded a Divisional Police Station in Toro, about 120 kilometres west of Bauchi city, capital of Bauchi State. No one was killed or injured, but the attackers made away with an unknown number of police guns and ammunition.
The men, whose number could not be estimated, stormed the station at about 8pm, shooting as they approached the building. By the time they got inside, shouting ‘Allahu Akbar’ (Allah is great), they found it empty as the few policemen on duty, out-numbered and out-gunned, had fled. The attackers ransacked the station, taking away some guns and ammunition, and also freeing the lone detainee in the cell, arrested two days earlier.
A police statement on 6 July did not say how many guns the invaders seized from the station. The Public Relations Officer of the Police in Bauchi State, Mr Mohammed Barau, told the news agency, AFP, that: “Weapons were taken during the attack. We are working on an inventory, so we don’t have details”. Barau also said police suspect the attackers were members of Boko Haram.
The attack came barely 12 hours after the police killed three suspected members of the sect, in a gun duel at Jahun ward of Bauchi. Most local residents think the attack on Toro police station may have been a revenge mission.
On 4 July, the State Security Service (SSS) reported that it had arrested more than 100 suspected members of the militant Islamist sect, Boko Haram, and had foiled a number of attempted bombings in the past one-and-a-half months.
In a statement issued by the agency’s Assistant Director, Public Relations, Ms Marilyn Ogar, the SSS said: “Successful security operations have led to the arrest of some identified key cell commanders and members of the dissident group in Bauchi, Borno, Kaduna, Kano, Yobe and Adamawa”.
According to the agency, the suspects were arrested in six of the country’s northern states, namely Borno, Bauchi, Kaduna, Kano, Yobe and Adamawa. However, Ms Ogar said, in compliance with President Goodluck Jonathan declared “carrot and stick” approach to the Boko Haram challenge, the suspects would not be prosecuted.
The SSS spokesperson said those arrested were already helping security agents in investigations, by providing information on the sect’s activities. She said as a result, the SSS on 23 May, and also on 10, 14, 27 and 29 June, discovered and successfully demobilized eight Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) mostly in Kaduna State.
She also said the SSS had received information from some patriotic Nigerians which led to the recovery of components of yet-to-be assembled explosives, including a gas cylinder with a pin, detonating cables, a bottle of distilled water, pliers, masking tape and clips. She said the components were recovered in a hotel in Kaduna, meant for a device that was to be detonated in a shopping mall.
The SSS also explained that the mounting of checkpoints on the entrance routes into the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), by military and other security personnel, was a response to security reports on the likelihood of bomb attacks in some parts of Abuja.
The agency apologized to “peace-loving citizens, especially residents of the FCT and its adjoining communities, for the temporary inconveniences they are experiencing” as a result of the road blocks. It said the inconveniences had “become necessary in the interest of our collective safety” and “should be considered as part of the little sacrifices we all have to pay for our collective safety”.
On 20 June, unknown persons shot and killed a student of the Abubakar Tatari Ali Polytechnic (ATAP), inside the school’s premises, in Bauchi, capital of Bauchi State.
Sources at the polytechnic said Abdullahi Sabo Mohammed, a Diploma Two student of the Department of Accounting and Audit, was living off campus, but came to the school that night to see his girl friend after calling her on phone. They said on getting to where he was waiting for her, the girl saw four men who wore black singlets. The men shot Abdullahi point blank on the chest. The girl fainted in shock.
Students around the scene of the killing ran to inform the institution’s security men, who called in the police, and then removed the corpse. Some people suspect he must have been killed by people who knew him very well, probably even his close associates.
The Registrar of the institution, Mallam Baba Galadima, said the killing was without precedent in the experience of the school established over 20 years ago. “We have no cultists”, he said, “No student has ever been killed in our school”.
However, the Police Public Relations Officer, Mohammed Barau, said the killers numbering five, are suspected to be cultists.
Galadima said the state government has intervened to prevent the reoccurrence of such a crime in future. He said: “We held a meeting with leaders of the students union, and the state government will fence the school premises to guarantee security”.