Sunday, June 29, 2014

48 Nigerians Feared Killed in Attack on Churches Near Chibok, Borno State
Damage from attacks on churches in Chibok, Borno State, Nigeria.
Written by Njadvara Musa, Maiduguri (With agency report)

FRESH violence in Borno State claimed about 48 lives Sunday as suspected Boko Haram insurgents armed with explosives invaded many churches in villages near Chibok.

   Besides, the All Progressives Congress (APC) has condemned the terrorist attacks on Abuja and Bauchi that killed at least 37 people and injured many more.

  Sources said dozens of people may have been killed in the raids on villages about 10 kilometres outside of Chibok. Although the military was not immediately available to comment, the sources said that the death toll could be up to 48.

  “The attackers went to churches with bombs and guns,” Timothy James, a Chibok resident said by phone.

  “From what I gathered, dozens of worshippers, including men, women and children were killed,” he said, explaining that his information had come from people who fled the affected area and through phone calls.

 A Chibok leader, Enoch Mark, gave a similar account, telling Agence France Presse (AFP) in Lagos, “presently, as we are talking now, we are under attack”.

  “We cannot tell the number of dead bodies,” he added. “I was told the attackers burnt at least three churches to the ground.”

  Mark further said that the military had not responded to distress calls after the attack began.

  “They just went and got a hiding place in the bush.”

 An eyewitness and resident of Kautikiri, Adamu Pogu in a telephone interview in Maiduguri yesterday said: “The gunmen came on over two dozen motorcycles, and started to chase people and the ones going to church this morning (Sunday) with gunshots. Some of the villagers fell to the ground and the gunmen  shot dead nine of them here in Kautikiri. Other gunmen went after villagers in other villages of Kwada and Nguragila, while going to churches for this morning’s service, and killed 39 people there too.

  “I cannot give you the exact total number of our people killed this morning, as I speak, but they also shot dead several villagers in other attacked farming communities of Kwada and Nguragila of Chibok, before the insurgents fled into the forest by noon.  In Kautikiri, nine people lost their lives along with their torched houses.”

  Senator Mohammed Ali Ndume, representing Borno South Senatorial District  also confirmed the multiple attacks on Chibok villages Sunday in a telephone interview in Maiduguri.

   He said the Federal Government should do more by deploying more troops in the affected areas of Chibok  to secure other villages from being attacked by Boko Haram insurgents.

  “The military and other security agencies should do more by not only deploying more personnel, but to cooperate fully with members of the

local vigilance group in fighting terrorism and insurgency in this part of the state. They know the terrains of Sambisa Forest in tracking insurgents’ modus operandi and hideouts.  They should work as a team to end this Boko Haram insurgency that will clock five years by July 29, 2014.”

  Following the abduction of over 200 school girl in Chibok, parents and local leaders accused the military of doing almost nothing to secure the release of the hostages.

   In a statement issued in Lagos Sunday by its National Publicity Secretary, Lai Mohammed, the party repeated its earlier statement that nothing can justify the spilling of the blood of innocent citizens, while commiserating with the families of the victims.

  It called on the Federal Government to review its strategy for the fight against terrorism, saying whatever was being done now was definitely not working, hence the deadly terrorist attacks had almost become a daily affair.

  ‘’Whatever strategy being used by this Federal Government is not yielding enough positive results. Otherwise, these terrorists would not have gone from carrying out their attacks on the outskirts of a city like Abuja, for example, to exploding a bomb right in the heart of the city as was witnessed in Wuse 2 last week,’’ APC said.

  The party wondered in particular why Abuja had remained so vulnerable to such attacks, considering the millions of naira reportedly spent on the  closed-circuit television (CCTV) project that was supposed to help secure the city, asking: ‘’Or has this project again become a victim of the runaway corruption and incompetence for which this administration is renowned?’’

  The party said instead of reaching out across partisan lines as the opposition had suggested several times, the Federal Government had resorted to chasing shadows while the killing of innocent citizens intensified.

   ‘’The scorecard of this Federal Government in the fight against terror is very dismal. Some 76 days after over 200 girls were abducted from Chibok, the girls are not any nearer home today than they were on the day they were abducted, and all the clueless and ineffective Administration of President Jonathan can do is to engage in image laundering that has caused the taxpayers US$1.2 million; witch-hunt the media as well as those perceived to be opponents of the administration and engage in a continuous and unprecedented abuse of national institutions.

  ‘’This Administration could have pumped the US$1.2 million it frittered away in the name of image laundering in the U.S. into the fight against terror, which seems to have waned. Unfortunately, as the President kicked started his wasteful image laundering with an op-ed in The Washington Post, he was being skewered in another U.S. newspaper, The New York Post.

  ‘’The paper’s (New York Post) Editorial Board wrote of the President’s newspaper diplomacy: ‘Remember, this is the same leader whose military initially claimed it had freed the girls, whose wife’s anger was directed at Nigerians protesting the government’s inaction rather than the kidnappers and who presides over Africa’s largest economy and fourth-largest armed forces’.

  ‘’There is no better demonstration of the fact that the Administration has wasted public funds on a misbegotten image laundering than this,’’ it said.

   APC also described the treatment meted out to pilgrims travelling to Saudi Arabia for lesser Hajj from the Maiduguri airport as another in a series of shadow-chasing by the government, which would rather misuse national institutions to flex muscles against innocent citizens than tackle the terrorists headlong.

   The party said forcing the pilgrims to travel by road from Maiduguri to Kano to be airlifted was callous and poorly-thought-out, considering the dangers they were likely to face on the road.

  ‘’The argument that the airlifting from Maiduguri was stopped at the last minute because of security is hogwash. Is that also the same reason that a private plane that flew into the same airport with eight people on board was forced to fly back empty after those who wanted to travel in it were prevented from doing so? Is it the same security reason that forced the closure of Akure airport even as planes that ferried APC leaders to the airport were on the tarmac? Is it also why newspapers were targeted across the nation?

  ‘’The truth is that the Jonathan Administration is playing dirty politics with the fight against terror, using national institutions to abridge constitutionally-guaranteed rights,’’ it said.

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