As violence continued in some parts of Kaduna State on Monday and fresh attacks were reported in Damaturu, Yobe State, President Goodluck Jonathan, will depart for Brazil today.
Jonathan is going to the Brazilian commercial capital city, Rio de Janeiro, to take part in this year’s United Nations’ Earth Summit.
While in Rio de Janeiro, Jonathan is expected to participate in the summit’s four plenary sessions at Rio Centro Convention Centre on Wednesday and Thursday. He will also attend a reception hosted by the Brazilian President for Heads of Government at the summit.
The President is expected to travel with his wife, Patience; Governors Ibrahim Shema and Seriake Dickson of Katsina and Bayelsa states respectively.
Other people on the President’s entourage are the Ministers of Environment, Mrs Hadiza Ibrahim Mailafiya; Water Resources, Mrs Sarah Ohekpe; Trade and Investment, Mr. Olusegun Aganga; and Senator Benedict Ayade.
However, while the President will be in the South American country, security forces will be working to contain the crisis in Kaduna State where the death toll in Sunday’s multiple bombing and consequent reprisal is said to have risen to 74.
Speaking to the News Agency of Nigeria on Monday, officials of the Red Cross said that 140 victims of the attacks had been taken to hospitals for treatment. Some of the hospitals where the victims are being treated are the Ahmadu Bello Teaching Hospital, Shika; Barau Dikko Hospital, Kaduna; St. Luke’s Hospital, Wusasa; and St. Gerard’s Catholic Hospital, Kakuri.
Three churches were attacked by suicide bombers on Sunday, triggering reprisals by Christian youths.
Unconfirmed reports on Monday say there were skirmishes at the Barnawa market area of the state, occupied mainly by Muslims. Soldiers and policemen patrolled the streets to maintain peace. Also in Damaturu, the Yobe State capital, there was pandemonium on Monday as explosions and gunshots rocked the city.
Reports indicate that the attacks believed to have been launched by members of the Boko Haram sect started at the Sabon Pegi area of the city in the evening.
An unconfirmed report says that the gunmen attempted to take over the government house, and the Potiskum Prison.
Channels TV reports that the Joint Task Force Commander in the state, Col. Dahiru Abdulsalam, said his men had moved into the town and the situation had been brought under control.
Our correspondent on Monday reported that hundreds of Kaduna residents besieged various hospitals in the state in search of their relatives caught in the attacks.
Medical personnel and workers at the St. Gerard Catholic Hospital and the Barau Dikko Specialist Hospital, reports say had hectic time treating scores of people that sustained various degrees of injuries even as they coped with worried relatives in search of their loved ones.
Spokesman for the St.Gerard Catholic Hospital, Mr. John Ali, said that the number of victims who died in the hospital had risen to 39 while those who sustained injuries and were being treated in the hospital were 72.
Ali said the corpses had been evacuated by the state government.
A source who did not want his name mentioned told our correspondent at the Barau Dikko Specialist Hospital that 12 deaths were recorded while two others were receiving treatment in the hospital.
At ABUTH, a worker who did not want his name in print said the number of dead victims at the hospital was 32.
Suleiman Mani, a 20-year-old wood cutter, said he was cutting firewood when a resident of the area told him to leave the work and go away because the town was not safe.
Narrating how he was attacked, Mani said, “They hit me again and I fell down. The wanted to cut my head but the machete landed on my hand as I tried to protect myself. They carried a big stone and wanted to drop it on my head, but one woman who is also my customer came to intervene as I lay on the ground.
“They wanted to beat her but one man came and intervened and they took me on a bike to this hospital.”
Another victim, Aliyu Musa, 27, who is a commercial motorcyclist, said he was attacked at the Sabon Tasha area of the state.
“I just dropped a passenger and I was going back when I saw some people stopping motorbikes. They stopped many of us and asked us to lie down and started beating us and smashing blocks on us.
“They said that they will kill us because Boko Haram is killing Christians. They beat me so much that I became unconscious. I don’t even know how I got here,” he said
A photo journalist with Daily Independent Newspaper, Mr. Nathaniel Jibrin, said, “My colleague from Thisday newspaper called me that there was bomb blast in Trikania, and that he was going there to take pictures. It was not long I closed from the Church, so immediately I picked a commercial motorcycle and headed for the place, but somewhere within the area, some people stopped us.
“I cannot remember what they were saying, all of a sudden I found myself on the ground, with blood flowing all over my body. It was two good Samaritans that brought me to this hospital. Thank God I am getting better.”
Meanwhile, tension rose in the Kaduna metropolis on Monday as the state government relaxed the 24 hours curfew imposed on the state following the outbreak of violence on Sunday.
“I am rushing home right now. The Hausa people seem to have mobilised for a fight. Please I have to rush home before they start burning and killing,” a resident said.