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Gunmen kill four at drinking joint in Maiduguri, Borno State

On 12 June, gunmen suspected to be members of the militant Islamist group, Boko Haram, shot four men to death at a drinking joint in Bulumkutu, a suburb of Maiduguri, capital of Borno State.

Local sources say policemen who were attracted to the scene by the shots engaged the gunmen in a shootout, but the assailants escaped arrest.

Confirming the incident, the Public Relations Officer of the Borno State Police Command, Malam Lawal Abdullahi, told newsmen in Maiduguri that: “They (the gunmen) raided the joint and shot the victims who were busy drinking. All the victims died even after some were rushed to the University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital (UMTH) for help”.

He explained that the reason the militants were able to carry out the attack successfully, was because the joint was not properly secured by the owner.

The police spokesman said: “The area is purely residential and the owner illegally converted the place to a beer parlour without properly registering the place. If the place had been properly registered, there would have been the presence of security agents to safeguard it, especially in the face of the security challenges facing the state”.

Borno State adopted Sharia law on 19 August 2000, one of the 12 northern states that did so a decade ago. Under the new religious code, the consumption of alcohol was prohibited.  However, the state has a substantial Christian minority and, at the time Sharia was  adopted, the then governor, Mala Kachalla, had assured Christians that the Islamic law would apply only to Muslims. In some parts of Maiduguri, residents still drink beer openly.

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Police arrest 14 Boko Haram suspects over bomb attacks in Borno State

Mao of Nigeria highlighting Borno State

On 9 June, the Borno State Police command reported that it had arrested 14 persons suspected to be linked to the 7 June bomb attacks on a church and two police stations in Maiduguri, in which about 14 people were killed.

According to the Public Relations Officer of the Borno State Police Command, Mr Lawal Abdullahi, the arrests were all made in Maiduguri, the state capital.

“We have made 14 arrests of suspected members of the outlawed Boko Haram sect in connection with Tuesday’s attacks”, Abdullahi said. He added that investigations were continuing, to determine “the level of complicity of the suspects in the attacks and we are on the lookout for other suspects”.

Since mid-2010, Boko Haram hit men have staged numerous attacks targeting security personnel, politicians, clerics and community leaders. In what some security operatives have described as one of its most ferocious attacks within Maiduguri, the group, on 7 June, launched bomb attacks on multiple targets within the metropolis, between very short time intervals.

On 8 June, the state governor, Alhaji Kashim Shettima, visited the three places struck by the previous day’s blasts. At the Saint Patrick’s Catholic Church, he sympathized with the cathedral administrator, Rev. Father David Bredling, and said the Borno State government was ready to pay for the reconstruction of the damaged church.

Governor Shettima also visited the police stations and other business premises that were damaged by the blasts and assured the people that both the state and Federal Governments would spare no effort or resources in ensuring the safety of all lives and property.

Explosion, blaze destroy major vaccine store in Maiduguri, Borno State

Map of Nigeria highlighting Borno State

On 1 June, an explosion occurred at the Disease Control Unit (Epidemiological Centre) of the Borno State Ministry of Health, in Maiduguri, Borno State. The blast instantly set off a fire that destroyed tens of thousands of doses of polio, measles and meningitis vaccines, and other private property worth millions of naira.

Details of the incident are yet contradictory. Some residents said they heard one explosion, others two.

It is also not clear whether the incident was an attack by members of the militant Islamist sect, Boko Haram, as local residents say, or an accident, as some police sources claim. No group has yet claimed responsibility.

One account said the building was attacked with explosives around 7.25 pm, while most local residents were huddled together in front of television sets, watching a friendly soccer match between Nigeria and Argentina which was massively followed by people all over the country. It further said the explosion was followed by gunshots, people running for safety, and then a huge fire from the warehouse which soon engulfed nearby stores.

Another account said some men came to the building around 7 pm, chased out an elderly man who was “guarding” the entrance, went in and planted explosives which went off and set the warehouse ablaze. The source said the fire soon spread to a shopping centre and a private house located behind the vaccine store, and also to three cars that were parked on the grounds around the building. One shop owner, Mohammed Mustapha, said he lost goods worth about N25 million.

However, the Police Public Relations Officer in the state, Malam Lawal Abdullahi, ruled out any attack or sabotage.

He told a newspaper reporter that: “It was purely a fire incident and the police have already commenced investigations into the cause. There was no life lost, but we are yet to quantify the value of the property lost”.

The Epidemiological Centre, which doubles as the warehouse for vaccines being used for the National Programme on Immunisation (NPI) in Borno State, is the biggest store for disease control resources in the state. Its destruction is a major setback to the Borno State Government’s programme against major child-killer diseases.

Suspected Islamist gunmen kill younger brother of Shehu of Borno, second highest Muslim leader in Nigeria

The Shehu of Borno, His Royal Highness, Abubakar Ibn Umar Garbai El-Kanemi

On 30 May, gunmen suspected to be members of the militant Islamist group, Boko Haram, assassinated Alhaji Abba-Anas Umar Garbai, younger brother of the Shehu of Borno, Alhaji Abubakar Ibn Umar Garbai, Al-Amin El-Kanemi, in Maiduguri, Borno State.

The Shehu of Borno is the most prominent traditional and Islamic leader in the north-eastern part of Nigeria, second only to the Sultan of Sokoto in the hierachy of Muslims  leaders nationwide. His influence spreads across the old Bornu Empire, stretching into parts of present-day Chad, Cameroon and Niger Republic.

Local sources say Alhaji Anas, 30,  was a former banker until recently, when he changed career and joined the paramilitary group, the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), as a Supervisor. He was killed by gunmen around 9 pm outside his home in Gangamari ward of Maiduguri.  

According to the Police Public Relations Officer in Borno State, Lawal Abdullahi, “He was about to enter his house to retire for the night when some gunmen suspected to be Boko Haram members accosted him and shot him at close range”.

The police said he is the second close relation of the Shehu to be killed by suspected Boko Haram hit men, after another sibling had been gunned down in early April.

Boko Haram’s leades had always viewed traditional rulers as compromised Muslims, working in league with the corrupt state establishment. After state security forces ruthlessly quelled their uprising in Bauchi and Maiduguri in 2009, relations between the militants and the rulers grew even worse.

Most militants believed the local chiefs encouraged and endorsed the killing of their members by state security forces. Thus since they re-grouped and started their serial attacks in mid-2010, the militants have targeted not only security personnel and opposing clerics, but also a number of chiefs or persons close to them.

In September 2010, they killed two local district heads (with the title of “Lawan”) and shot another village warden (“Bullama”), in a fierce twilight attack just behind the palace of the Shehu in Maiduguri. They claimed the chiefs had been police informants. That incident, in an area previously considered not vulnerable to militant strikes, raised the risks of attacks anywhere in the city.

In February 2011, the Shehu urged both Muslims and Christians in the state to pray and fast for three days, starting from 10 March 2011, as a means of ending the serial attacks and killings by the militants. In a statement by the Secretary of the Borno Emirate Council (BEC), Zanna Laisu, the Shehu said the growing trend of daily killings now called for sober reflection by adherents of all faiths, as the attacks “seemed to have defied all possible solutions”.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that since 2 July 2010 when Boko Haram militants started attacking individuals believed to have played roles in quelling their 2009 uprising, some 100 persons have been killed.

 On 29 May, at the inauguration of his new administration in the state, Gov. Kashim Shettima appealed to the militants to come forward for dialogue towards ending the killings in the state.

Bomb explosion kills 2 in Maiduguri, Borno State

On 13 May, a bomb explosion killed two people in London Ciki, a densely populated area of Maiduguri, capital of Borno State.

Local sources said the bomb, apparently a locally-fabricated device, was probably wrapped in a black polythene bag and deceptively kept by the roadside, close to a popular bus stop and a police check point. They said the explosion, which occurred in the night – at about 8.30 pm – went off just as two young men, seemingly in their mid-20s, were walking past the point where the bomb was hidden.

They say the explosion, a thunderous blast, ripped off the stomachs and limbs of the two men, killing them instantly. People initially ran in different directions as the explosion raised a cloud of dust, but members of the military Joint Task Force (JTF) later came around and removed the corpses to a hospital.

On 14 May, the state Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Malam Lawal Abdullahi, confirmed the incident. He said the bomb went off after one of the victims unknowingly stepped on it on his way home. “We heard about the attack” he said, “a terrible one indeed. Our men are working tirelessly to address the problem”.

Abdullahi added that: “For now, we have not made arrests, but the Commissioner of Police has directed the Police anti-bomb squad to comb all red spots in the metropolis. We are also appealing to the public to assist the police with vital information”.

There have been more than ten bomb explosions in Maiduguri since the beginning of April. Both security authorities and local residents believe the explosions have been organized by the militant Islamist group, Boko Haram, which has been waging a campaign of terror against security personnel, some politicians, moderate clerics and Christian preachers.

Shortly after he was elected the new governor of Borno State on 28 April, Alhaji Kashim Shettima stated that his administration would, within its first 100 days in office, hold discussions with Boko Haram towards granting its members amnesty, restoring peace in the state.

However, on 9 May, a Boko Haram spokesman, Abu Dardam, told the BBC Hausa Service in Kaduna that the group would not accept any amnesty or dialogue because “First, we do not believe in the Nigerian constitution and, secondly, we do not believe in democracy but only in the laws of Allah”.

Assassination of Gubio, others: Police arrest 19 suspects, to be arraigned soon

Headquarters, Borno State Police Command

On 31 January, the Borno State Police Command reported that it had arrested 19 suspects in connection with the 28 January killing of the All Nigeria People’s Party (ANPP) governorship candidate, Alhaji Fannami Modu Gubio, and six others in the state capital, Maiduguri.

Police spokesman, Lawal Abdullahi, said all the suspects were undergoing interrogation and that relevant documents were being prepared for their arraignment in court in the next few days.

The police spokesman rejected charges that the police had failed to arraign many suspects well after they were arrested. “It is not true”, he said, “We have taken many suspects to court and we will continue to do our best”. Lawal said the 92 suspects arrested in December 2010 in connection with series of killing in the state, and who were earlier taken to Abuja, are now facing trial in various courts in Maiduguri.

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