On 19 February, an improvised bomb exploded near a church in Suleja, a town in Niger State, but on the edge of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja. The blast occurred on Morocco Road, at the heart of the commercial area of the town, wounding five people and damaging five cars.
According to Uyi Idugboe, pastor of the Christ Embassy Church, the blast struck just a few minutes after the church service had started at 10 am. He said a member of the church, who had gone out to check that his vehicle was locked, spotted a suspicious-looking package lying between two cars. He promptly alerted everyone to stay indoors.
Said Idugboe: “When we were alerted, about 25 minutes before the detonation, we called everybody inside the church. That is why we don’t have casualties”.
The Commissioner of Police in Niger State, Alhaji Ibrahim Maishanu, reported that no one was killed by the blast. Yushua Shuaib, spokesman for the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) also confirmed that: “No person died in the Suleja explosion. One person was seriously injured and is now in hospital. Four victims had minor injuries while five vehicles were damaged”.
Responding to the incident, large numbers of soldiers, police and other security operatives soon cordoned off the area, to enable bomb experts commence investigations.
Churches in Suleja and nearby Madalla have been targeted repeatedly by the militant Islamist group, Boko Haram, which says it is fighting to establish Islamic rule in the northern states of the country. Its most recent attack in the area was the Christmas Day bombing of a Catholic church in Madalla, which killed about 43 people and wounded 57.
However, security operatives have arrested the suspected mastermind of that attack. More recently, the State Security Service (SSS) reportedly raided the home of one Bashiru Madalla, identified as coordinator of Boko Haram’s operations in the FCT and Niger State; but the suspect is said to be on the run.
Nigerian police offers 50 million naira (310,000 USD) reward for information on escaped bomb suspect
On 19 January, the Nigeria Police Force offered a reward of 50 million naira (about 309,600 USD) to anyone who provides information that could lead to the recapture of the main suspect in the Christmas Day bombing of a church in Madalla, near Abuja, which killed over 40 people. The suspect escaped from police custody on Sunday 15 January.
A statement issued by the Force headquarters in Abuja said: “The Police High Command has declared Kabiru Umar (a.k.a. Kabiru Sokoto) wanted in connection with cases of bombing and terrorism across the northern states of the Federation, especially the Christmas-Day bombing of a church at Madalla”.
The statement added that the suspect “is aged 28 years, fair in complexion and speaks English, Hausa and Arabic languages fluently”.
Kabiru was arrested by the police on Saturday 14 December, at the Borno State Governor’s Lodge in Abuja. He was handed over to a Commissioner of Police (CP), Mr Zakari Biu, for further investigations.
On Sunday 15 December, the CP sent a small team of policemen in a Toyota Hilux truck, to take him to his residence in Abaji, a boundary town between the Federal Capital Territory and Kogi State, for a search. As the team got into the town, a group of armed young men, believed to be members of Kabiru’s sect, attacked and overwhelmed them, freeing the suspect.
The statement by the Force Headquarters said the Police viewed this development as “serious negligence on the part of the Commissioner of Police” and therefore queried and suspended him from duty. It added that the CP might be prosecuted, if a criminal case was established against him and his team.
Many Nigerians variously described Kabiru’s escape as a “national embarrassment” and “a shame”. The National Security Adviser, Gen. Owoye Azazi (retd), said it was “a regrettable drawback on our efforts” to fight terrorism in the country. Within the police top brass, several officers expressed muted displeasure at what they saw as a major bungle. Many citizens called on the Police chief, Mr Ringim, to either hand in his resignation or be fired by President Goodluck Jonathan.
On 18 January, on the prompting of the President, the Minister of Police Affairs, retired Navy Captain Caleb Olubolade, issued the police boss a query, asking him to explain, within 24 hours, the circumstances surrounding the escape. The query also asked Ringim to show why he should not be punished for negligence, since the ultimate responsibility for keeping the suspect was his, as the nation’s number one police officer.
Olubolade said: “If he (the IGP) is found guilty of complicity, he himself would have to account for his mistakes”. When asked whether the Police chief could be sacked over the incident, he replied: “Yes, anybody (could), including me”.
On 2 September, a civil society group, the Katsina State Unity Forum (KSUF), called for urgent review of the cases of seven inmates of the Katsina Prison who have been awaiting trial for almost 17 years!
Speaking when he led other members of the group on a visit to the prison, the Chairman of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) branch of the Forum, Alhaji Aliyu Bala, pointed out that some of the inmates were charged with robbery and had been taken to court 50 times but their cases were never heard. He said they had already spent more than the maximum prison terms for their alleged offences, if they had been convicted.
He therefore pleaded with the Katsina State judiciary to ensure quick dispensation of justice to the inmates, and for them to be granted their freedom, if not found guilty. He specifically urged the chief judge of the state to intervene, in order to ensure that the human rights of the inmates are not further trampled upon.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the KSUF donated a large quantity of rubber mats and blankets to the inmates. The group expressed its determination to continually support the inmates and the prison itself, indicating that it plans to construct additional rooms for the prisoners. In response, Alhaji Ibrahim Gide, a Deputy Controller of Prisons, thanked the Forum for its support and promised that the items donated would be used judiciously.
It will be recalled that earlier this year, the Nigerian Prisons Service had reported that 64 per cent or 25,000 out of the 40,189 persons under its custody were awaiting trial. The 2011 Amnesty International report on Nigeria published in May, stated that 33,000 or 70 per cent of the nearly 48,000 prisoners in the country were awaiting trial. The Amnesty report added that: “Many had been held for years awaiting trial in appalling conditions. Few could afford a lawyer and the government-funded Legal Aid Council had only 122 lawyers for the whole country”.
An Abuja-based justice sector analyst observes that: “A system that locks poor people away for years, subjecting them to horrible conditions in over-crowded, disease-infested hell-holes in the name of awaiting trial, is not a justice system at all! This is a criminal system for which there can be no excuse or justification. This system of justice, or more appropriately injustice, can only breed more criminals”.
On 26 August, President Goodluck Jonathan reacted to the suicide bomb attack on the United Nations complex in Abuja earlier in the day, saying that “the Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria utterly condemns the barbaric, senseless and cowardly assault”.
A statement by The Presidency (as the Office of the President is called in Nigeria), signed by the Presidential spokesman, Dr Reuben Abati, stated as follows:
“The President believes that the attack is a most despicable assault on the United Nations’ objectives of global peace and security, and the sanctity of human life to which Nigeria wholly subscribes.
“He extends his sincere condolences to the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Mr. Ban Ki-Moon and all members of the United Nations family who have lost loved ones in the heinous attack.
“President Jonathan reaffirms the Federal Government’s total commitment to vigorously combat the incursion of all forms of terrorism into Nigeria, and wishes to reassure all Nigerians and the international community that his Administration will spare no effort to bring the perpetrators to justice.
“The President has also directed all relevant government agencies to assist in the search and rescue effort at the UN Building, and ordered heightened security across the Federal Capital Territory.
“He urges all Nigerians to cooperate fully with the government in its efforts to expose the desperate elements who promote violence, terrorism and division in the country.
“While noting that by today’s attack, we are once again reminded of the international character of terrorism and its indiscriminate targeting of innocent civilians, President Jonathan affirms Nigeria’s determination to continue to play its part in the global effort to eradicate the scourge of terrorism in all its ramifications.
“He urges all Nigerians and foreigners resident in the country to go about their normal affairs with the full assurance that the Federal Government and its law enforcement agencies will continue working diligently to ensure the full protection of lives and property in the country”.
[Several more reactions from selected Nigerian leaders and organisations will follow today]
On 22 August, the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) reported that it arrested 142 persons in connection with various drug-related offences, within the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), from January to June this year.
In an interview with the Abuja-based newspaper, Daily Trust, the agency’s Commander for the FCT, Mrs. Omolade Faboyede-Omole, also said that over that period, the Command seized 1,966.741 kg of Indian hemp, 28.7 kg of cocaine and 123.5 kg of psychotropic substance.
Mrs Faboyede-Omole said some of the drugs were being sold by mallams hawking biscuits. She said: “Sometimes, they conceal them in sacks. The recent raid carried out by our operatives led to the interception of a wheel barrow carrying biscuits, with seven sachets of illicit drugs identified as tramadol concealed under the biscuits”.
She further disclosed that 34 of the offenders arrested were actually drug addicts, and that they were being rehabilitated at various centres in the Federal Territory. Others, she said, would soon be prosecuted. She added that the NDLEA would not relent in its anti-drug campaign, and that a squad of the FCT Command was still combing the entire Territory to identify and arrest drug traffickers.
On 15 August, an armed group attacked a police station killing four police officers and two civilians in the town of Tambuwal, headquarters of Tambuwal Local Government Area of Sokoto State. Tambuwal, 97 km away from the state capital, Sokoto, is the home town of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Aminu Waziri Tambuwal.
Sources report that the gunmen came in two vehicles and stormed the Divisional Police station at about 4.30 pm. They shot dead four policemen and two civilians who were at the police station. One of the civilians was said to have gone to obtain bail for the other who had earlier been detained at the station. The sources said the gunmen also freed a suspected armed robber and took all the arms they could find at the station.
Briefing newsmen after inspecting the attacked police station, the Commissioner of Police in Sokoto State, Mr Adisa Bolanta, said the gunmen came in a large number from different directions and opened fire at the police station simultaneously. That way, he said, they overwhelmed the policemen and killed four of them, as well as two civilians who were at the station to make a complaint.
The Police Commissioner said the attackers had attempted to rob a bank in the town before moving to the police station. He further disclosed that after the attack on the station, the fleeing gunmen abandoned two vehicles at Gwandu in neighbouring Kebbi State, with some improvised explosive devices inside one of them. He appealed to the public to assist the police by offering any information that could help in tracking down the gunmen.
Attacks of this kind are very rare in Sokoto State, usually a pleasantly peaceful state in the far northwest of the country. The police said the gunmen must have come from a group demanding the release of a suspect arrested and detained at the police station. However, residents said the attack may have been staged by the militant Islamist group widely known as Boko Haram. The group had carried out numerous attacks against security personnel and police stations, as part of its campaign to install Islamic rule in the northern states of the country.
In mid-June, it served notice that it was widening its attacks across those northern states and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. Only a few days later, on 16 June, it exploded a bomb at the car park of the national police headquarters in Abuja.
A public notice titled: LIST OF SUCCESSFUL AND RESERVE CANDIDATES FOR THE NIGERIAN DEFENCE ACADEMY 63 REGULAR COMBATANT COURSE and signed by the institution’s Academic Registrar, Brig Gen A. T. Jibrin, shows that a total of 285 candidates were successful at the Armed Forces Selection Board interview held from 21 May to 2 July 2011.
This figure is made up of 175 candidates who have been Selected for admission and 110 others still on the Reserve list. (A check on the Academy’s website: www.nigeriadefenceacademy.edu.ng where the full list may have been published, shows that the site is currently under maintenance. However, the list has also been published as a newspaper advertisement and is available on the website of the Abuja-based newspaper, Daily Trust).
The breakdown of the published list shows that for 8 states (Cross River, Ebonyi, Kebbi, Nassarawa, Ogun, Rivers, Yobe and Zamfara), 7 candidates were successful in each state. Of the 7, four have been Selected for admission while 3 are still on Reserve.
For all the other 28 states, 8 candidates were successful in each state, of which 5 have been Selected while 3 are still on Reserve.
For the Federal Capital Territory, five candidates were successful: three have been Selected, two are on Reserve.
The statement said the Selected Candidates are to report on 8 October 2011 to start training at the NDA (Permanent Site), Kaduna. It said the candidates will be received on arrival at the Reception Centre located at the Academy Parade Ground (Permanent Site). It added that: “Any candidate who fails to report on 10 Oct 2011 will forfeit his or her place to a candidate on the reserve list”.
However, the notice clearly states that Candidates on the Reserve list are NOT to report to the Academy until they are invited.
It adds that the Selected candidates MUST come along with the ORIGINAL copies of their credentials which include the following:
- First School Leaving Certificate.
- Primary School Testimonial.
- Birth Certificate/Declaration of Age.
- School Certificate Results NECO/WAEC.
- Junior/Senior Secondary School Testimonial.
- Letter of State of Origin.
In addition to the documents/credentials listed above, they are also required to bring along the following Other Items:
a. Two pairs of white shorts.
b. Two pairs of white canvas shoes.
c. Two white shirts (long sleeves).
d. Two pairs of blue shorts and white round neck vests.
e. Three white singlets.
f. Two pairs of white socks.
g. Two pairs of white trousers.
h. Two white bed sheets and pillow cases for 8 spring bed.
i. One lounge suite (dark colour).
j. One belt (preferably black).
k. Black polish, brushes, shaving kit and toiletries.
l. One pair of football boots.
m. One pair of spike shoes.
n. One pair of black trousers.
o. Female candidates should come along with the following items in addition:
1) Two pairs of trouser suits.
2) Two lounge skirts.
3) One pair of Black low heel cover shoes.
4) Two pairs of Black or Blue short tight.
The notice further stated that “Selected Candidates are not allowed to receive visitors and will not go out for the first three months of training”. It urged Selected candidates and their parents are to “please note for strict compliance”.
On 18 July, at least 14 people died instantly, in two multiple road accidents along the Nyanya-Karu road, in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. Some unconfirmed reports say the casualties may have subsequently risen to over 30.
Local sources said in the first accident, which occurred around 2.15pm at Furniture Market, Kugbo, a trailer ran into a Toyota Corolla car, crushing its two occupants to death instantly.
Shortly after that, another trailer lost control around Mechanics Village, also in Kugbo, and ran into eight other vehicles, comprising three private cars, four commercial buses, and one taxi cab. Twelve people died on the spot. Ten others, suffering various degrees of injury, were rushed to hospitals in the Asokoro and Maitama districts.
Apart from those who died instantly, several others wounded are reported to have died as they were being rushed to hospitals or shortly after getting there. One source reports that the casualties may have exceeded 30, but this has not been confirmed.
Rescue workers from the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) and the police rushed to the scene to help survivors and recover bodies from the wreckage of the many vehicles that were involved in the accident.
As the second accident drew large crowds of rescue workers and other onlookers, it caused a massive pile-up of traffic for several kilometres in both directions of the highway.
[THIS REPORT WILL BE UPDATED AS MORE INFORMATION BECOMES AVAILABLE LATER TODAY].
On 11 July, the Inspector General of Police, Mr Hafiz Ringim, ordered the immediate redeployment of 27 Commissioners of Police (CPs) to state commands and and to departments at the Force headquarters in Abuja.
Details of the new postings, which were contained in a release from the office of the Force Secretary and dated 12 July 2011, are as follows:
Commissioers of Police appointed to new States:
1. CP Baba Adisa Bolanta, formerly in Oyo State, deployed to Sokoto State.
2. CP Ibrahim Mohammed is redeployed as CP for Katsina State.
3. CP Simeon D. Midenda, formerly CP Federal Operations, moved to Borno State.
4. CP Ibrahim Idris is the new CP for Kano State.
5. CP Ikechukwu Aduba is the new CP for Bauchi State.
6. CP Michael Zuokummoh, formerly of Niger State is new CP, Federal Capital Territory.
7. CP Mohammed Jinjiri Abubakar, formerly of Borno State is new CP Jigawa State.
8. CP Emmanuel Ayeni, formerly of Ebonyi State is now CP Plateau State.
9. CP Lateef Abiodun Junaid is new CP for Kebbi State.
10. CP Emmanuel Obiakor, formerly of Nasarawa State is now CP Benue State;
11. CP Ibrahim Maishanu is now CP Niger State.
12. CP Musa Abdusalam Daura is now CP Nassarawa State.
13. CP Haruna John, formerly of the FCT, now takes charge of Federal Operations.
14. CP Saliu Argungu Hashimu is the new CP in charge of Oyo State.
15. CP Nicholas Nkemdeme is the new CP for Ogun State.
16. CP Tambari Y. Mohammed is now CP in charge in Imo State.
17. CP Adeola Adejiri is now CP in charge of Ebonyi State.
18. CP Charles Abutu is now CP in charge of Ondo State.
Commissioners of Police appointed to new posts at Force Headquarters in Abuja:
1. CP Sabo Ringim Ibrahim, formerly of Katsina State now CP in charge of X-Squad Force Criminal Investigation.
2. CP Hassan Adamu is now in charge of Homicide FCID.
3. CP Ikemefuna Okoye is now CP Training at ‘E’ Department.
4. CP Emmanuel K. Udeoji is now Deputy Force Secretary at Force HQ.
5. CP Buhari Tanko is now CP ‘MSD’ F Department Force HQ
6. CP Joseph Ibi is now CP in charge of General Investigations at FCID;
7. CP Mohammed A. Indabawa is the new CP in charge of Administration at Police College, Kano.
8. CP Sani J. Magaji is the new CP in charge of ‘Admin’ at ‘E’ Department at Force Headquarters.
9. CP Fabian Orji is now CP Anti-Fraud Squad FCID.
The announcement of the new postings by the Force Secretary, said they are all with immediate effect.