Reports have surfaced that the Boko Haram group based in northern Nigeria claimed responsibility for a series of bombings on Christmas Eve. The government of Goodluck Jonathan has expressed scepticism toward the claim., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
Boko Haram kills 10 in bloody weekend
By Yusuf Alli, John Ofikhenua, Abuja and Abiodun Joseph, Maidugur
The Nigerian Nation
IN yet another bloody weekend, suspected Boko Haram members have killed 10 persons in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital.
The victims include a local government chairman. Many were injured in three attacks at different places in the city.
Government at the weekend took a major step to stem the activities of the Islamic Fundamentalist Group with President Goodluck Jonathan raising a panel to review the security situation in the country.
The panel may also probe the whereabouts of the N1.8billion released to a former Inspector-General of Police for the installation of CCTV cameras in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and some other cities.
The fear of Boko Haram gripped Abuja last night.
There was an unusual presence of heavy security around the headquarters of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) following the fear of attack by the group.
Attempts to clartify the cause of the security beef up from corporation spokesman Livi Ajuonuma last night were unsuccessful.
The President has, according to sources, ruled out the removal of Inspector-General of Police Hafiz Ringim, the service chiefs and heads of security agencies over the spate of bombings in the North.
The panel is made up of some former National Security Advisers and some past and present officers from the intelligence service.
Although the list of members was kept secret, it was gathered that the panel will operate “covertly”.
It was also learnt that the panel may exchange information and compare notes with intelligence units of some countries since terrorism is a global issue.
Chairman of Ijere Local government Area, Alhaji Mustapha Baale was yesterday shot dead by gunmen believed to be members of the Boko Haram.
He was killed around 3.30pm on his way home on Old Maiduguri Road within his local government area.
Baale, a three-time chairman of the local government, was reappointed to the post barely three weeks ago by Governor Kashim Shetima. He was also a member of the sixth House of Assembly which ended its tenure last month. He contested for a House of Representatives seat but lost.
Chief of Staff to Governor Shetima, Alhaji Abua Kyari described Baale’s killing as unfortunate.
Barely two hours after the killing of the LGA boss, the Boko Haram men struck again at Wulari Police station Mammy market around 5.30 pm yesterday. They reportedly rained bullets and threw a bomb at the people drinking at the market. Five people lay dead after the attack. Many others were injured.
Sunday’s twin attacks were preceded by the killings on Saturday.
Among those killed in the Saturday attacks were two brothers – Isa Umar and Apagu Umar.
In the Sunday attacks at the Mammy market, a father of 10 was among those shot dead. There was also a retired soldier among the wounded.
Head of the Joint Police Military Task Force in Maiduguri, Maj. Gen. Jack Nwachukwu Nwaogbo confirmed the killings.
A source, who spoke in confidence on the presidential action on Boko Haram said: “Contrary to the insinuations that Mr. President’s approach to the security challenges facing the country has been weak, he has been doing a lot.
“A panel has been set up to review the security situation, what has gone wrong, stock-taking of the level of sophistication to cope with the latest challenges facing Nigeria, and how the system can be overhauled for maximum efficiency.
“The panel is mandated to complete its assignment as soon as possible. So, the team should be done in a few weeks. It comprises some former National Security Advisers, crack intelligence chiefs and other security chiefs.”
The source added: “Following reports coming up on the N1.8billion, the President asked the panel to find out if the money was spent, inspect the installed CCTV cameras in the FCT and other cities and review their impact.
“But if nothing was done, the panel is to find out the whereabouts of the money that was approved and released. The panel will speak with all those involved in the project.
“I think the outcome of investigation into the bomb explosion at the Force Headquarters where it was difficult to get the footage of the bomber might have informed a review of the N1.8billion project by the police.
“After the panel has submitted its report, the President will determine whether the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission should step in or not.”
On the alleged plans to remove Ringim, and service chiefs over the Boko Haram menace, the source added: “The President has ruled out such a step because terrorism is a global challenge and it requires a global reaction.
“Jonathan has said he does not want to play to the gallery through mere grandstanding to remove security chiefs. He believes that recourse to bombing by Boko Haram is a challenge to all Nigerians, including himself as the Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces.
“Instead, the President has given these security chiefs a major task to arrest the insurgency and they are on top of the situation.”
Nine die in fresh Borno bomb blast, attacks .
Monday, 04 July 2011 00:00 From Njadvara Musa (Maiduguri), Terhemba Daka (Abuja) and Odita Sunday (Lagos)
LESS than 24 hours after President Goodluck Jonathan told the Boko Haram sect that “enough is enough,” the group struck yesterday in Maiduguri, Borno State killing five people in bomb blast. Ten others were injured and taken to the University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital (UMTH).
Also, armed men suspected to be members of the group on foot killed four residents in separate attacks in some parts of the state.
Amid the attacks, top security operatives yesterday accused some Nigerian politicians in the North and Abuja of fuelling the activities of the Boko Haram, which has claimed responsibility for the recurring bomb explosions and killings in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and some northern states.
The State Security Services (SSS), which spoke on the activities of the group yesterday, claimed that some politicians in Borno State and Abuja were behind the increasing attacks by the sect.
Besides the victims of yesterday’s explosion, the group, between Saturday and yesterday, killed a local council chairman and retired military personnel, and three other residents.
In a statement by the State Director of SSS, Ahmed Abdulhameed, in Maiduguri yesterday, he said: “Despite our endless efforts along with some patriotic Nigerians to find a lasting solution to the lingering sectarian crisis in the state, some desperate politicians are hiding under the guise of ‘political Boko Haram sect’ to perpetrate and continue with the endless serial attacks and killings in Maiduguri and other towns in Borno State.”
The statement reads in part: “The State Security Services observed that amidst the concerted efforts being made to achieve and sustain a peaceful atmosphere in Borno State and the North Eastern zone, where law and order is being threatened by activities of the Islamic sect, attempts are being made from certain quarters which have become part of the problem, to use the name of this service in shielding their heinous criminal activities.”
Yesterday’s bomb blasts occurred at 4.45 p.m. at Wulari Ward near a mini market. The market is about 50 metres away from police barracks. Police bomb experts immediately cordoned of the scene of the explosion. No arrest has been made, the military said.
When The Guardian contacted Maj.-Gen. Jack Nwoogbo Nwoagbo, he confirmed the incident and the number of casualty. He said: “Look we are at the scene of the blast, I cannot talk much.”
Citing a statement by one Abu Zaid, the spokesman of the Boko Haram sect, which was published in a national newspaper (not The Guardian) where Zaid had alleged that one Usman Al-Zawahiri was being used by the SSS to distort the demands of the sect, the SSS boss said there was nothing like that. .
“We want to stress that we have always known that there had been a political dimension to the lingering problem in Borno State and that the faceless Al-Zawahiri is the mouthpiece of this “political Boko Haram” which is dropping the SSS name as a cover for its unpatriotic acts.”
Jonathan had during the weekend at the graduation of top military officers in Jaji, Kaduna, warned that the government would no longer tolerate the lawlessness of the group.
The SSS chief reiterated the position of the Commissioner of Police, Mohammed Abubakar, that the Armoured Personnel Carriers (APCs) donated to the police were not meant to fight members of the sect.
Abdulhameed said: “Suffice to mention here that the current deployment of security agents to the state does not amount to a clampdown on the sect as being peddled by mischief makers, but a matter of responsibility on the part of the Federal Government to protect the citizens who have been seriously traumatised in recent times.
He advised the sect members to lay down their arms and embrace the “carrot and stick” option of the President as their call for “jobs and justice can only be realised in an atmosphere of peace of which, we firmly believe can be achieved sooner than later,” .
Three suspected Boko Haram gunmen on foot had killed four persons in Bulabulin-Ngaranaram and Galadima wards of Maiduguri metropolis. The victims included a retired soldier, identified as Joseph, 59, who was shot in the arm when the gunmen climbed the wall fence of his residence at 11.45 p.m. .
Others killed were Abba Panama, 45, a bricklayer, Sani Umar, 25, a student of the School of Nursing, Maiduguri, Apagu Umar, 30, a businessman, and Pa Alao, a resident of Galadima ward in Maiduguri. .
Confirming the night attacks and killings, Commander of the Joint Task Force Operation Restore Order (JTORO), Maj.-Gen. Jack Nwachukwu Nwaogbo, said: “We could not get the reports of the multiple attacks and killings in the two wards, until late night at 1.25 a.m. when distress calls were received from two residents that their father and two relations were shot and killed in their houses at 11 p.m. on Saturday by three suspected Islamist sect.” .
He said three gunmen climbed the wall fence of the residence of Abba Panama Bulabuli-Ngaranaram ward, before firing several gunshots into his head and chest, adding that barely half an hour, Umar of the School of Nursing, was also shot and killed in the same ward.
On the inability of members of JTORO to reach the scenes of the attacks and killings, he said the gunmen muffled their Kalashnikov rifles with pillows to silence the sounds of the gunshots, adding that “by the time we reached the houses that were invaded, some residents had been killed. The suspects fled into the neighbouring Bolori and Kumshe wards. It seems that the armed men have changed and resorted to quiet attacks and shootings, where both neighbours and taskforce members could not hear the sound of any gun shots to arrest the suspected killers.” . .
A 35-year-old trader and relation of the slain Apagu said: “What have we done to the Boko Haram sect? Our brother had been selling fuel to some of the sect members on credit amounting to over N40, 000 without paying… And now they shot and killed our breadwinner in his pool of blood.”
Nwaogbo said several arrests were made on Sunday morning following a tip-off on the fleeing gunmen, adding that the suspects were being interrogated at an undisclosed location in the metropolis, before they would be handed over to the police for prosecution in court.
Distraught residents of the FCT at the weekend asked the Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Azubuike Ihejirika, to check the excesses of the soldiers deployed to firm up the security in the area.
The residents alleged that the soldiers had resorted to flagrant abuse of their mandate, just as they described their modus operandi at the checkpoints as “abuse of power and authority.”
They, therefore, want the military authorities to review the briefs given to the soldiers.
Meanwhile, the Nigerian Navy has charged its officers and men to work with other security agencies, especially the police to achieve the government’s goal of combating crime in the country.
The Chief of the Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ola Sa’ad Ibrahim, stated this at this year’s Naval Police Seminar tagged “Repositioning the Naval Police for Optimal Efficiency in a Democratic Dispensation.” It was organised at the Nigerian Navy Ship Quorra, Apapa, Lagos.
Ibrahim, who was represented by the Flag Officer Commanding Western Naval Command, Rear Admiral Emmanuel Ogbor, said the synergy was necessary because crime fighting is a collective responsibility of all agencies of government.