On 20 April, the Katsina State Commissioner of Police, Mr Ibrahim Mohammad, reported that four people were burnt to death in their houses, and 42 inmates let loose from the prison in Malumfashi, during the riots that followed the presidential election results, in Katsina State.
Providing a comprehensive report on recent violence in the state, the police commissioner said that in Malumfashi, about 11 houses including Governor Ibrahim Shema’s Campaign Organisation’s office, the homes of the chairman and secretary of the local government council, and the private houses of some chieftains of the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) were burnt down. Ten vehicles were also set ablaze. The prisoners escaped when the rioters broke into the jail house and drove the prison wardens away.
CP Mohammed said in Funtua, the rioters destroyed or burnt more than seven vehicles, restaurants and private schools.
In Kankara, the rioters set fires to the house of the ex-chairman of Kankara local council, Mamman Sani; the PDP office in the local government; a vehicle parked in the council boss’ house and Governor Shema’s campaign office.
The CP said 15 churches were razed down: Five in Funtua, four in Daura and three in Malumfashi.
The police boss reported that over 107 persons had been arrested in Malumfashi, Funtua, Daura, Kankara, Jibia and Katsina metropolis, in connection with the attack on the prison and the destruction of public and private property. Mohammed said one of the suspects, Abddulkadri Yahaya, 28, while trying to escape arrest, grabbed a pot of boiling groundnut oil from a roadside bean cake fryer, and hurled it at the police officer, Lawal Sani Dansada, who was pursuing him. Dansada is presently in hospital.
The Police Commissioner said those arrested would be charged to court once investigations are completed.
On 19 April, the Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) warned that it could not fold its arms and watch helplessly as Ndigbo (the Ibo people) are slaughtered in the northern states of Nigeria.
In a communiqué issued after its emergency meeting at Freedom House, Okwe, Onuimo Local Government Area of Imo State and signed by the National Director of Information, Comrade Uchenna Madu, MASSOB condemned the riots that have followed the presidential election in several northern states. The communiqué reads in part:
“The Movement condemns the killing of innocent people, particularly Ndigbo, in the Northern part of Nigeria. MASSOB will not fold its arms and watch the killing of Ndigbo in the Northern part of Nigeria.
“If the killing and maiming of innocent people, particularly Ndigbo, continues in the next 24 hours, there will be no guarantee that the perpetrators of such evil acts will not be effectively challenged”.
“Ndigbo are advised to remain calm wherever they are in Nigeria and await further instructions. Where assistance and attention are needed, Ndigbo are advised to call the following lines, 08125694759, 08063425055, 07032635198 and 08055907144”.
On 18 April, four people, including an elderly woman and a child, were killed in Potiskum, Yobe State, by rioters who said they were protesting the declaration by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), that President Goodluck Jonathan of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) had won the presidential election.
Potiskum is about 100 kilometres west of Damaturu, the Yobe State capital. The rioting youths, who numbered over 2,000, barricaded the major streets of the town, burning used tyres. They marched to the house of the former Minister for Police Affairs, Alhaji Adamu Maina Waziri, a member of the PDP, and tried to set it ablaze; but they were repelled by policemen on patrol. The local INEC office was similarly saved by the timely intervention of the police.
Over seven people suffered serious injuries inflicted on them by the rioters, and were subsequently admitted for treatment at the General Hospital in Potiskum.
On 21 April, President Goodluck Jonathan pledged to use all the instruments of his office to return every section of the country to normalcy, following the violence that erupted in some northern states after the 16 April presidential election.
In an early morning broadcast to the nation, the President observed that the violence had not only resulted in “loss of lives, destruction of means of livelihood, the burning of homes and places of worship”, but had also challenged some of the country’s revered institutions including traditional rulers and members of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC). He said the violence, aimed at stopping the remaining round of elections, could undermine the nation’s democratic evolution. He warned that these developments, if unchecked, could drag Nigeria back to some of its worse, better-forgotten tragedies.
The President therefore outlined a range of responses including tougher security measures, the establishment of a judicial commission of inquiry to probe the crisis, and appeals to various stakeholders who could contribute constructively towards preventing further violence.
On security responses, Jonathan declared: “I assure all Nigerians that I will do so with all powers at my disposal as President, Commander-in-Chief. I have ordered the deployment of security personnel to troubled parts of the country. I have also directed the reinforcement of security in all parts of the country.
“I have authorized our security services to use all lawful means, including justifiable force, to bring an immediate end to all acts of violence against our fellow citizens. In view of the condemnable attacks on our gallant Youth Corps members, I have directed all State Governors to take personal responsibility for their security and safety in the States where they serve”.
Judicial Commission of Inquiry
On the judicial response, Jonathan said the government would establish a Judicial Commission of Inquiry to examine the remote and immediate causes of the crisis. “I have directed that perpetrators of these dastardly acts of violence and all those who seek to continue to breach the peace and stability of this nation must be fished out and made to face the full weight of the law. In this regard, a Judicial Commission of Inquiry will be constituted to look into the immediate and remote causes of this recent tide of unrest”.
In the third major component of the government’s response, Jonathan appealed to various stakeholders, including political, religious and community leaders, to demonstrate responsibility and restraint, and not to inflame passions among their followers.
Said the President: “I appeal to all members of the political class, leaders of thought and traditional rulers, to continue to put our national interest first”.
“Particularly, I call on our religious leaders not to use the sacredness of our places of worship to promote messages that could lead to hate, disharmony and disaffection. Rather, we must all at this time join hands and support INEC (Independent National Electoral Commission) in ensuring a successful conclusion of the commendable work which they started”.
“I appeal to all communities around the country to show restraint in the face of provocation”.
“I appeal to parents to take full charge of their wards. We must not allow anybody to use innocent youth as cannon fodder for the ambitions of a few. Let us preserve the sanctity of the lives and future of all of our children”.
Anarchists will not succeed
The president also pledged that his administration will not be distracted or deterred from its programmes on account of the crisis. He said: “To those who persist in sowing the seeds of discord, I say – you may hurt and bring grief to some innocent families momentarily, but you will never succeed in stopping our transformational journey: a journey that will lead this country, by the grace of God, to emerge stronger, more prosperous and more united”.
In this regard, he declared that the election of state governors and state legislators scheduled for 26 April would go ahead as planned, promising that calm would have been restored in troubled parts of the country by that date. He urged all Nigerians to “go about their businesses without fear and exercise their franchise on April 26, to vote for candidates of their choice in the next round of elections”.
On the night of 17 April, a riot erupted in Sokoto, capital of Sokoto State, as the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was still announcing the results of the 16 April presidential elections in which the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) candidate, Goodluck Jonathan, defeated Muhammadu Buhari of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) and others.
The rioters, who claimed the election in the state was rigged and did not reflect the true picture of political loyalties on ground, went on rampage, destroying property. They burnt houses, shops and vehicles, including two cars at the state broadcasting station.
On 18 April, city residents stepped out to the streets very cautiously. By midday, after rumours spread that another wave of violence had started, the streets were soon deserted as businesses quickly closed shop for the day.
Thereafter, a large number of youths stormed the palace of the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammadu Sa’adu Abubakar, who is the spiritual head of all Muslims in the country, and attempted to raze the edifice. They alleged that it was with the Sultan’s connivance that the PDP was able get 35 per cent of the total votes cast in the state. The thousands of youth, who converged a few meters to the Sultanate Council were threatening to set the palace ablaze, but the deployment of troops to the area saved the day.
The youths also attempted to spark a riot in the popular “Emir Yahaya” area, the commercial nerve centre of the city which has a large community of Igbo traders and artisans. But they were again repulsed by the heavy prescence of security personnel who had been drafted to the area.
The Commissioner of Police in Sokoto State, Mr Segun Solomon, confirmed the arrest of 39 suspected thugs who carried out attacks on strategic locations, looting shops and other property in the city. He said those arrested were looters who took advantage of political sentiments in the state to loot shops and steal other people’s property.
The command’s spokesman, Mr Al-Mustapha Sani, an Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) also confirmed to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that 39 suspects had been arrested in connection with the post-election disturbances. He said the suspects were being screened to determine those who would thereafter be charged to court.
THIS IS AN UPDATED VERSION OF OUR EARLIER POST
On 17 April, the Adamawa State capital, Yola, experienced some disorder and violence, following the announcement of the result of the presidential election held on 16 April; but no casualties were reported.
A perceived delay in announcing the election result had initially led some supporters of the opposition Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) to swarm the headquarters of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) early in the day, demanding that the result be announced or they would burn down the building.
The State Collation Officer, Professor Bashir Usman, eventually announced that President Goodluck Jonathan of the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) won the election. He said Jonathan picked 16 of the 21 local governments, polling a total of 558,314 out of the 907,706 valid votes cast in the state. His closest rival, the CPC’s Muhammadu Buhari, won the remaining five local governments, scoring 344,526 votes.
A few hours after the announcement, some CPC supporters reportedly got involved in an argument with PDP supporters at the Jimeta Market. Sources say that while the CPC supporters accused PDP of rigging the election, the latter group booed their accusers as bad losers. The exchange soon degenerated into a full-blown protest, with the CPC youths setting up bonfires with disused tyres on major roads across the city. They also reportedly damaged some PDP offices and billboards, and molested passers-by.
No life was reported lost by sunset, but the Adamawa State Police Command deployed anti-riot policemen on the streets. The command’s spokesperson, Atini Daniels, an Assistant Superintendent of Police (ACP), told reporters that the police had taken firm control of the situation and was already investigating the disorder.
SEE OTHER REPORTS FOR INCIDENTS IN BAUCHI AND GOMBE STATES
On 16 April, two people were killed and several others injured as a bomb exploded at a hotel in Kabala West area of Kaduna metropolis, Kaduna State. The blast, on the same day as the nationwide presidential election, occurred around 7.40pm at a hotel variously identified as Jimmy Hotel and Happy Night Hotel.
Confirming the incident, the Deputy Commissioner of the Kaduna Police Command, Mr Ekeh Nwodibo, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that the police had arrested one person, who is alleged to have planted the bomb. He said the police had cordoned off the hotel restricting movements in and out of the area, while bomb experts had been deployed to commence investigations. Nwodibo also said the injured persons had been rushed to hospital.
The Director of the State Security Service (SSS) in Kaduna, Mr. Abayomi Zamba, also reportedly confirmed that the suspected bomber had been apprehended. He said the suspect, who himself was also wounded, is now receiving treatment at an undisclosed hospital. Zamba gave an assurance that the security agencies were on top of the security situation in the area and appealed to people in the state to be calm.
It would be recalled that barely a week earlier (7 April), two explosions had occurred in the Mahuta suburb of Kaduna, killing one of those who were in possession of the explosive devices. However, that incident had no noticeable effect in terms of discouraging voters from coming out to vote at the 9 April parliamentary elections.
This latest incident, on the same day as the presidential election, occurred well after voting had been concluded, and therefore similarly had no impact on the polls. Said one local resident who had voted earlier in the day: “If these mad bombers were trying to frighten us and sabotage the elections, then they have clearly failed, because the election is already a success”.