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.
1. Fellow Nigerians, it has become necessary to address you on recent events in some parts of the country that have threatened our collective security and shaken the foundations of our corporate existence as a nation.
2. You are all aware of the security challenges which the activities of the Boko Haram sect have foisted on the country. What began as sectarian crises in the North Eastern parts of the country has gradually evolved into terrorist activities in different parts of the country with attendant negative consequences on our national security.
3. Government, in an effort to find a lasting solution to the security threats occasioned by the activities of the Boko Haram sect, constituted a Presidential Committee under the Chairmanship of Ambassador Usman Gaji Galtimari, to ascertain the immediate and remote causes of the crises. While efforts are being made to implement the recommendations of the Committee, the crises have assumed a terrorist dimension with vital institutions of government including the United Nations Building and places of worship becoming targets of terrorist attacks.
4. While the search for lasting solutions is ongoing, it has become imperative to take some decisive measures necessary to restore normalcy in the country especially within the affected communities. Consequently, I have in the exercise of the powers conferred on me by the provisions of Section 305(1) of the Constitution, declared a state of emergency in the following parts of the federation, namely:
(i) BORNO STATE
a) Maidugiri Metropolitan LGA
b) Gamboru Ngala LGA
c) Banki Bama LGA
d) Biu LGA
e) Jere LGA
(ii) YOBE STATE
a) Damaturu LGA
b) Geidam LGA
c) Potiskum LGA
d) Buniyadi-Gujba LGA
e) Gasua-Bade LGA
(iii) PLATEAU STATE
a) Jos North LGA
b) Jos South LGA
c) Barkin-Ladi LGA
d) Riyom LGA
(iv) NIGER STATE
a) Suleja LGA
The details of this proclamation will be transmitted to the National Assembly as soon as they reconvene from their current recess, for their necessary action.
5. The Chief of Defence Staff and the Inspector-General of Police have been directed to put appropriate measures in place to ensure the protection of lives and properties of residents in the affected parts of the country. I therefore urge the political leadership in the affected states and Local Government Areas to give maximum cooperation to the law enforcement agencies deployed to their respective communities to ensure that the situation is brought under control within the shortest possible time.
6. The Chief of Defence Staff, in collaboration with other Service Chiefs, has also been directed to set up a special force unit within the Armed Forces, with dedicated counter terrorism responsibilities.
7. As part of the overall strategy to overcome the current security challenges, I have directed the closure of the land borders contiguous to the affected Local Government Areas so as to control incidences of cross border terrorist activities as terrorists have taken advantage of the present situation to strike at targets in Nigeria and retreat beyond the reach of our law enforcement personnel.
8. Let me assure our neighbours, especially within the ECOWAS sub-region, of Nigeria’s commitment to its international obligations as provided by the ECOWAS Protocol on Free Movement of Persons. The temporary closure of our borders in the affected areas is only an interim measure designed to address the current security challenges and will be reviewed as soon as normalcy is restored.
9. I commend the efforts of our political leaders at various levels as well as our traditional and religious leaders for their support for the various conflict resolution mechanisms and peace building measures that have been initiated by this administration. We call on the citizenry to continue to provide useful information to our law enforcement agencies to enable us arrest the situation.
10. Terrorism is a war against all of us. I call on all Nigerians to join hands with government to fight these terrorists.
11. I wish all Nigerians a very happy New Year.
12. Long Live the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
On 30 December, three explosions were reported in Maiduguri, capital of Borno State, but military authorities said no one was killed.
Initial reports had said that one of the explosions occurred near a mosque after the Friday afternoon prayers and set off a massive stampede, and that about four people may have been killed.
BBC had quoted the Director of Army Public Relations, Maj Gen Raphael Isa, as confirming there had been a “major incident” which had caused casualties.
However, the spokesman of the military Joint Task Force in the state, Lt Col Hassan Mohammed, while confirming the blasts to newsmen, said none of them occurred near a mosque. He said the explosions occurred near market areas in different parts of the city but that no one was killed.
The explosions occurred only five days after the Christmas Day bomb attacks on churches in Madalla, a town in Niger State close to the federal capital, Abuja, and also in Jos, capital of Plateau State. Those attacks killed at least 42 people, mostly Christian worshippers at the St Theresa’s Catholic church in Madalla. The government blamed the attacks on the militant Islamist group, Boko Haram; a spokesman for the group also reportedly claimed responsibility.
About 24 hours before the latest blast, the group had emailed a statement to some media houses saying: “If God is willing, we will carry out further attacks”.
On 26 and 27 December, more foreign governments and international organizations condemned the Christmas morning bomb attacks in Madalla (Niger State), Jos (Plateau State) and Damaturu (Yobe State), in which about 40 people were killed. The militant Islamist sect, widely known as Boko Haram, had claimed responsibility for the attacks.
AFRICAN UNION COMMISSION
In a statement, the Chairperson of the African Union Commission (AUC), Dr Jean Ping, condemned the bombings of churches and expressed his most sincere condolences to the bereaved families of the victims, who had been denied the opportunity to celebrate Christmas with their loved ones. He also wished the injured strength and speedy recovery.
Dr Ping contended that Boko Haram’s continued acts of terror and cruelty, and absolute disregard for human life, cannot be justified by any religion or faith. He reaffirmed AU’s total rejection of all acts of intolerance, extremism and terrorism.
In a statement, Ashton said: “I am profoundly shocked and saddened by the terrorist attacks which took place in several regions of Nigeria, including cowardly attacks on religious symbols and churches during the Christmas period, with appalling loss of human lives…I condemn, in the strongest possible terms, these attacks and all other acts of terrorism”.
She added that: “We stand behind the Nigerian authorities in their fight against terrorism, to protect all citizens, in particular the most vulnerable, and to preserve the right to life and the rule of law.”
On 25 December, the National Security Adviser (NSA), Gen Andrew Azazi (rtd), said a major Christmas Day catastrophe planned by the militant Islamist sect widely known as Boko Haram, was thwarted by the proactive measures which security agencies had taken recently, to checkmate the group’s activities.
In a statement on Boko Haram’s multiple bomb attacks in Madalla (Niger State), Jos (Plateau State) and Damaturu (Yobe State) on Christmas Day, the NSA said the attack on the St. Theresa’s Catholic Church in Madalla, was an act of desperation by the sect, after security agencies had frustrated its other more bloody plans.
He said: “It is important to inform the public that the proactive measures put in place by the security forces during this festive period have so far checkmated a major catastrophic plan envisaged by Boko Haram”. Elaborating on the measures, he said: “Boko Haram’s major armoury in Yobe was destroyed only last week. Yet another armoury in Kaduna and two in Kano were destroyed also last week, in addition to heavy casualties the sect sustained”.
The NSA urged citizens to “go about their activities, remain vigilant and urgently report anything suspicious to security agents”.
He further said: “We renew our appeal to all Nigerians that this is not a fight between security forces and some dissident elements. It is a conflict between some misguided extremists in our midst and the rest of our society, because the victims are not confined to any ethnic boundary. We must cooperate to fish them out. And because our cause is just and our collective resolve is stronger, together we shall prevail!”
On 25 December – Christmas morning – an explosion near a church killed at least 20 people, in Madalla, near Suleja, in Niger State. Madalla, largely a market town in Niger State, is about 30 km from the Federal capital city, Abuja.
The blast went off near the St. Theresa’s Catholic Church. The Public Relations Officer of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Mr Yushau Shuaib, said the incident was a “suspected bomb blast” and that 10 persons had been confirmed dead. Local sources and other rescue workers initially reported 15 corpses being evacuated in three vehicles (ambulances), but feared the toll would be significantly higher. The French news agency, AFP, quotes a local priest, Father Christopher Barde, saying rescue officials told him they had counted 27 killed.
While the rescue effort was underway, angry youths from the town set up bonfires and threatened to attack the local police station. One of the youths claimed the police had failed to provide adequate security. With the area degenerating into chaos, the vastly outnumbered policemen had to shot into the air to disperse the angry youths. They also barricaded the highway which runs through the town.
AFP later reported that Abul Qaqa, a spokesman for the militant Islamist sect widely known as Boko Haram, had called on phone, claiming responsibility for the blast. AFP quotes the spokesman as saying: “We are responsible for all the attacks in the past few days, including today’s bombing of the church in Madalla. We will continue to launch such attacks throughout the north in the next few days”.
Over the last few days, the army and other security forces had been battling members of the sect in Damaturu, Yobe State. The chief of army staff, Lt Gen Azubuike Ihejirika, told newsmen that soldiers killed 59 members of the sect and destroyed one of their major arms depots in Damaturu between Thursday and Friday.
This is the fourth bomb incident in the area since this year, following three previous incidents in nearby Suleja – about 10 km away – and the second specifically targeting a church.
On 3 March, an explosion went off at a People’s Democratic Party (PDP) rally, just after Niger State governor Babangida Aliyu had addressed supporters; at least 12 people were killed and about 20 injured. On 8 April, another bomb exploded at the local office of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Suleja, killing at least 13 people and wounding dozens of others, mostly young graduates who had been recruited as ad-hoc staff for the general elections. On 10 July, a third bomb explosion near two churches – the All Christian Fellowship Mission and the Faith Mission Church – killing three persons and wounding seven others.
On 25 July, the police reported it had arrested a seven-man group found with explosive materials believed to be used in making bombs locally, in Suleja, Niger State. (Suleja is only about 40 km out of the federal capital city, Abuja).
According to the Public Relations Officer of the Niger State Police Command, Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) Richard Oguche, law officers closed in on the men following a tip-off last week, and discovered the explosive materials while searching their house.
Oguche said: “The police raided the house of the leader of the group, who it refers to as Alhaji Bature, and sophisticated explosive devices used in making bombs were found in his house”.
He explained that the bomb-making materials in Bature’s house were similar to those that had been found during investigation and analysis of materials from the scenes of previous bomb blasts in Suleja, since March.
He said other checks by the police further revealed that the materials recovered from the suspects were the type that only licensed users of explosives are authorized to use. He said that while the suspects claimed they used the explosives for mining purposes, they were not licensed users.
The PPRO said the police had already established a link between the suspects and a company in Kaduna, but that investigations were still continuing.
1 February: 18 people die in an accident along Dutsin-ma-Kankara road in Danmusa Local Government Area of Katsina State killed 18 persons leaving five others with serious wounds.
8 March: 13 persons died in a ghastly motor accident in Bakiyawa Village in Batsari Local Government Area of Katsina State. The accident involved a Mitsubishi Canter bus with 26 passengers and an articulated tipper lorry belonging to a construction firm.
8 March: 14 persons died in a fatal motor accident along the Benin-Ore road in Edo State. According to some local sources, the accident occurred when the driver of a commercial bus, in the course of overtaking a truck, ran into an on-coming trailer.
12 March: Six persons believed to be members of the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP), died when their bus colided with a goods-laden truck, in Oyo town. About 15 others were reportedly injured.
15 March: Seven people were killed when the motorcade of the Katsina State Governor, Alhaji Ibrahim Shema, got involved in an accident on Katsina-Daura Road. The governor was unhurt, but his Aide-de-Camp, Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) Aminu Ibrahim and eix others died.10 other persons sustained injuries.
19 March: About 18 people died, after an 18-seater commercial bus conveying passengers from the eastern part of the country to Lagos, plunged into the Ogbese River near Ugbogi Village, on the border area of Edo and Ondo States.
26 March: Two policemen died while four others suffered injuries, when a vehicle on the motorcade of the Zamfara State governor, Alhaji Mahmud Aliyu Shinkafi had a ghastly accident as the team was heading to a campaign rally in Maradun, headquarters of Maradun Local Government Area of the state.
1 April: About 30 people were killed in a fatal road accident at a check-point in Narabi village, on the Bauchi State stretch of the Jos-Bauchi highway. The driver of a fuel tanker reportedly lost control and ran into several vehicles awaiting security clearance, at a check-point manned by police and military personnel.
12 April: 18 people were confirmed dead in Sabon Wuse, along the Abuja-Kaduna expressway, after an 18-seater bus travelling from Lagos to Kaduna crashed into a stationary trailer.
13 May: At least 18 people died while 11 others sustained various injuries as two buses colided and caught fire instantly, near Potiskum in Yobe State.
23 May: Alhaji Balarabe Musa, 34, who had just been elected to the House of Representatives at the 9 April polls, to represent Kumbotso constituency in Kano State, died in a car crash. The accident occurred on the Abuja–Kano highway, at a town called Tafa in Niger State.
27 May: 26 people were burnt to death in a huge inferno resulting from a motor accident in front of the popular Yaoland Fuel Station along the intra-city Iwo Road-Ojoo route in Ibadan, Oyo State.About 25 vehicles and other equipment worth several millions of naira also perished in the tragedy.
27 May: Seven persons, including Alhaji Kolo Makama, senior special assistant on special duties/legal matters to the Niger State governor, Dr. Muazu Babangida Aliyu, died in a crash. along Bida road in Niger State. The accident occurred just about 48 hours to the governor’s inauguration for a second term.
1 June: 10 people were killed in a ghastly motor accident at Abukur village along Katsina-Kano road.
7 June: Seven students of Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria,died when the commercial bus in which they were riding collided head-on with a petrol tanker.
8 June: 21 persons, including two pregnant women and seven toddlers, died in an auto crash at Ilara Mokin, near Akure, capital of Ondo State.
20 June: 28 people died when buses operated by two Enugu-based transport companies (Peace Mass Transit, PMT, and the Enugu State Transport Company, ENTRACO) collided on the Enugu-Nsukka Highway; four of the casualties were members of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) who were returning to their homes after the national service in one of the northern states.
20 June: At least 18 people, died in an accident on the Ibadan–Lagos Expressway, according to witnesses. However, FRSC officials later said seven people died.
24 June: Five candidates for the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) travelling from Yenagoa in Bayelsa State to Port Harcourt, Rivers State, died in an auto crash at the Ahoada axis of the East-East road in Rivers State.
A bomb exploded at the All Christian Fellowship Church on Church Road, Suleja in Niger State on Sunday, 10th July, 2011. Two people died in the attack while several others suffered different degrees of injuries. This explosion inside a church is not the first of its kind as it has been preceded by several others in the northern part of Nigeria.
We, of the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC), totally and unreservedly condemn this and all violent attacks. We assert that violence is antithetical to the true teachings of Islam. The Glorious Qur’an advocates dialogue between Muslims and Christians on issues of common interest (Qur’an 3:64). There is nowhere in the scripture of Islam where Muslims are enjoined to violently attack Christians. The Qur’an forbids the use of force except when Muslims are attacked (2:190). There is no evidence that the Christians inside the Suleja church had attacked Muslims.
It is also instructive that Muslims are not allowed to use any other method of attack except the type used by the enemy (famani’tada alaykum, fa’tadu alayhi bimithli ma’tada alaykum Qur’an 2:194). Have Christians bombed any mosque in Nigeria? Why then are their churches being bombed?
Even when there is real attack on Muslims, the Qur’an draws a limit to the extent that Muslims can go. It says Muslims must stop all attacks once the attackers have also stopped (2:193) and urges forgiveness once the attackers have stopped (2:192). Why then are these faceless attackers throwing bombs instead of forgiving their perceived enemies?
MURIC is irked by the recklessness and audacity of those behind the bombing of churches. We roundly denounce them and we authoritatively, clearly and unequivocally dissociate ourselves from such perpetrators. These people cannot be genuine Muslims. They are anarchists out to throw Nigeria into an orgy of religious killings. Their target is war between Christians and Muslims.
We charge the security agencies to unveil the identities of these blood-thirsty extremists. Steps must also be taken to secure churches from future attacks. We appeal to all Nigerians to be law-abiding, peace-loving and forgiving. Christians and Muslims are from one Father of Faith (Abraham). Religion is designed to link people in love. There is no religion that teaches violence.
Is-haq Akintola (Ph. D)
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)
Yahoo Group: groups.yahoo.com/group/muslimrights