On 23 January, the Kano State Police Command reported that 29 policemen were among the 186 persons it confirmed killed, in the multiple bomb attacks staged by the militant Islamist group widely known as Boko Haram, on Friday 20 January.
In a statement, the Commissioner of Police in the state, Mr Ibrahim Idris, said apart from the police casualties, the breakdown of other victims was as follows: three operatives of the State Security Service (SSS), one Customs officer, two Immigration officers, one journalist and 150 other civilians.
The statement listed the areas targeted by the attackers as the Police zonal headquarters along Bayero University Road, the Farm Centre and Zaria Road police divisions, the Immigration office located at Farm Centre, SSS headquarters at Giginya quarters, the official home of the Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIG) in charge of Zone 1 (Kano, Katsina and Jigawa States) and St Louis Secondary School. It said the attacks were launched simultaneously by several suicide bombers.
The statement further disclosed that the state Police Command had recovered 10 motor vehicles loaded with improvised explosive devices, in different parts of the metropolis.
On 22 January, President Goodluck Jonathan paid a visit to Kano city, the commercial nerve centre of northern Nigeria, following multiple bomb attacks on the city two days earlier which killed over 180 people. A spokesman for the militant Islamist group widely known as Boko Haram had said his group was responsible for the attacks.
During his two hour visit, the President stopped at the palace of the Emir of Kano, Alhaji Ado Bayero, the bombed headquarters of the Police Zone 1 (covering Kano, Katsina and Jigawa States) and the military hospital where some victims of the bombing were being treated.
In his speech at the Emir’s palace, Jonathan vowed that the Federal Government will not relent in its fight against terrorism, until the terrorists are defeated. He said those behind the bombings were not invisible spirits but “people that live with us”, and urged greater security consciousness and vigilance by citizens, in order to fish them out.
The Kano monarch, in an unprecedented show of emotion, broke down in tears repeatedly, as he reviewed the human loss caused by the bomb attacks on his city.
He expressed deep appreciation for the President’s visit, but regretted that Kano, a sprawling city with a population of over 9 million, was under-policed with only 8,000 law officers. He appealed to the President to boost police presence in the city, as a step towards preventing further attacks.
President Jonathan was accompanied on the visit by the National Security Adviser, retired General Andrew Azazi; Defense Minister, Dr Bello Haliru Mohammed; Chief of Defence Staff, Air Marshal Oluseyi Petinrin; and several other top government and security officials.
On 28 June, the Senate deliberated on the nation’s worrisome security situation and resolved to summon all service chiefs to brief its members.
Moving a motion on the series of bombing incidents in the country since late 2010, particularly the 16 June 2011 bomb incident at the headquarters of the Nigeria Police Force (NPF), Senator Ita Enang said there was need for thorough investigation of these developments, otherwise the entire country would be condemned to living in perpetual insecurity.
Enang said: “The issue of bombing in the county is assuming a frightening dimension. Since the explosion of October last year, it has continued with a group accepting responsibility. I urge the Senate to take up the matter”. He therefore prayed the Senate to condemn the bombings, commiserate with the families of the victims and summon the service chiefs to brief its members on the way out of the present situation.
The motion drew comments from several Senators, but the main contributions were as follows:
- Senator Ayogu Eze (PDP, Enugu North), describing the motion as timely, blamed the security situation on the failure of the nation’s security system which, he said, needs to be overhauled, in terms of its operations, recruitment processes and the working equipment available to its operatives.
- Senator George Sekibo (Rivers, East) similarly blamed the security system, asking rhetorically: “How can the security system be so loose as to allow bombing of the Police Force headquarters?” He said: “Police Headquarters is a place supposedly fortified with security and yet the Number One law enforcement officer of the land could be bombed. The situation calls for worry.”
- Senator Philip Aduda (Federal Capital Territory, Abuja) called on the Senate to raise a committee to investigate the situation, especially the recent bomb attacks.
- Senator Ehigie Uzemere (Edo) appealed for caution on the matter and suggested engaging members of the religious sect, Boko Haram, in a dialogue.
- Senator Olusola Adeyeye (Osun) said the security of all Nigerians was now at risk and called on religious and other leaders across the country to close ranks and fight the current security problems. He also argued that the nation’s security hierarchy needed thorough examination, adding that a situation where the police leadership would say something on insecurity and recant later, raised serious questions about professionalism.
- Senator Abdullahi Adamu from Nasarawa State urged the Senate to stop addressing symptoms and step up its primary constitutional duty of oversighting the executive arm of government. He said: “As a Senate of the Federal Republic, where elder statesmen are, we should desist from addressing symptoms. As a Senate, we have a fundamental responsibility to oversight the executive, what they are doing or what they are about to do”.
- Senator Abdul Ningi urged the Senate to invite security chiefs for proper briefing on the security situation in the country.
- Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, noted that the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria makes security of citizens a fundamental responsibility of the government and that the current security situation, which was now “a national emergency”, should not be treated lightly.
At the end of the contributions, the Senate President, Senator David Mark, amended the motion, suggesting that the establishment of a Senate Committee on the situation be put on hold, until after security chiefs must have been summoned to brief the Senate on the situation. He persuaded his colleagues that it is only after the briefing must have armed them with first hand information, that the Senate would then be clear on its next line of action.
The motion, amended to reflect this position, was then approved unanimously.
On 4 February, the State Security Service (SSS) warned of more bomb explosions and other forms of terrorism in the country, calling on the public to be safety conscious. It said that certain elements in the society were threatening public safety through the use of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs).
Addressing a news conference in Abuja, the SSS Assistant Director, Public Relations, Ms. Marilyn Ogar, urged Nigerians to be more sensitive to their environment and to be wary of strange people that drop things in their neighbourhoods. She advised that cars that were parked for a prolonged period of time should be reported to security agencies.
Ogar said: “Today, enemies among us have chosen to be killing our defenceless children, women, and innocent men through the widespread use of IEDs for unjust and selfish causes”.
“The importation of this trend of terrorism is a threat to public safety. Security agencies remain determined to contain this menace. However, we as Nigerians must collectively be more conscious and sensitive towards our immediate neigbourhoods and environments”. She explained that this was necessary as security personnel could not be on every street of the country, but the criminals could cause mayhem against anybody anywhere, just to score a point.
Ogar cautioned members of the public to beware of laptops, Bibles and Korans, which could be sent as gifts as they could be used by criminal to detonate bombs. She further charged the people to ensure that only authorised persons are allowed access to public utilities and any facilities around them. She also advised citizens not to volunteer the addresses of relatives and other persons to strangers.
These safety precautions, she said, would be printed by the service and given out as hand-bills to members of the public as part of the public safety alert. She reassured Nigerians of the commitment of security agencies to make the forthcoming general elections peaceful.
In early reactions to the SSS Safety Alert, many citizens welcome it as a pro-active response to the security situation in the country.