Over 34 people, including three policemen and a soldier were yesterday confirmed dead in the orgy of violence that enveloped Damaturu, the Yobe State capital on Monday, with many others injured.
Four primary schools within the metropolis and some churches were bombed in the 18-hour confrontation between the Joint Military Task Force and the terrorists with heavy smoke enveloping the state capital.
In Kaduna, fresh crisis also erupted yesterday, forcing the state government to re-impose a 24-hour curfew to douse the tension.
In Damaturu, the violence which erupted at about 5.00 pm on Monday was said to have continued till early yesterday, with scores of dead bodies lying the streets, including Sabon Fegi, Jerusalem among other wards affected by the incident.
The state governor, Ibrahim Gaidam, has imposed a dusk-to-dawn curfew in Damaturu to restore peace and normalcy to the troubled city, according to a statement signed by the Governor’s Special Assistant on Information and Press Affairs, Abdullahi Bego.
Movement in other parts of the state has also been restricted as an added security measure. The 10.00 pm to 6.00 am curfew in Potiskum also continued, the statement said.
The statement read in part: “Residents are hereby directed to remain indoors, while officers and men of the Joint Task force (JTF) and other security agencies continued with efforts at ensuring peace and security and the protection of life and property.
“The 24-hour curfew directive is for Damaturu metropolis only. Restriction of movement in other parts of the state, except Potiskum town, still remains 10.00 pm to 6.00 am daily. Restriction of movement in Potiskum Town remains 6.00 pm to 6.00 am daily.
“Governor Gaidam called on members of the public to continue to give maximum cooperation to the JTF and other security agencies in their efforts at ensuring the safety of life and property, even as he also called on people not to relent in their prayers for the Almighty Allah (SWT) to restore peace in the state and the nation in general.”
Commander of the Joint Military Task Force in the state, Col. Dahiru Abdulsallam, said, the latest unrest started after security operatives arrested a suspected member of the Boko Haram sect, prompting other members of the sect to respond by setting off Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) and shooting indiscriminately all over the city.
He added that already, the security agencies are doing everything possible to restore normalcy in and around Damaturu and its environs.
Speaking on the number of casualties, the state Com-missioner of Police, Mr. Patrick Egbwuniwe, in a telephone interview said, three policemen were confirmed dead while four others sustained varying degree of injuries, and that, the injured are currently receiving treatment at an undisclosed hospital in the state. Egbwuniwe said: “I can only tell you the casualty from the side of the police, we lost three of our men and four others sustained injuries, I cannot tell you more than this because I have not gotten the details on the side of the military or civilians.
Apart from the three policemen, National Mirror learnt that the corpse of a soldier was brought to the Sani Abacha General Hospital early yesterday. Residents, who spoke with National Mirror, said many people were forced to remain indoors as a result of the fighting.
Chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in the state, Rev. Garba Idi, in a telephone interview with National Mirror described the situation as very unfortunate, even as he said he was yet to get the details of the churches affected and the number of Christians killed or injured in the incident.
Idi said: “All I can tell you is that Damaturu is on fire, a 24-hour curfew has been imposed and this situation will not allow us to even come out to ascertain the devastating effects of the incident.”
In Kaduna, skirmishes were reported following the relaxing of the 24-hour cur-few earlier imposed on the state by the government, after Sunday’s attack on three churches and the reprisal attacks, during which 52 persons were killed.
Sources said trouble started when youths in Tu-dun Wada and Panteka suburbs of Kaduna metropolis staged a protest over the massacre of their brothers in Sabon-Tasha and Gonin-Gora areas predominantly occupied by Christians in the southern part of the city.
Reports in the area said the irate youths made bonfires on the streets with heavy smoke billowing everywhere.
There were gunshots, which forced residents to hurriedly close their shops, offices and headed home.
Both police, army and air force helicopters were on surveillance to monitor the situation.
Meanwhile, the Kaduna State Commissioner of Police, Mohammed Jinjiri Abubakar yesterday said his command has arrested nine suspected terrorists with 16 high powered Improvised Explosive Device (IEDs).
Abubakar also alleged that illegal aliens from Niger, Cameroon and Chad were responsible for most terrorist acts in the north, adding that some of the foreigners who connive with Nigerians to carry out terrorist acts have also been arrested.
The CP said the aliens must desist from the terror acts or face the full wrath of the law.
His words: “We have been arresting foreigners from Niger, Cameroon and Chad who have been conniving with Nigerians to carry out acts of terrorism. Enough is enough; if they fail to stop, we would not accept it any longer.
“The command in the past two weeks carried out raids in a number of criminal hideouts in different locations in the state, nine suspects were arrested and they confessed to killing some innocent persons in Kaduna as well as snatching several cars.
Exhibits recovered include 16 high caliber IEDs which could have caused serious problem in the state if unintercepted. A Honda Accord with “Pistols, rifles, magazines and ammunition.
Speaking on the crisis yesterday, Abubakar said the 24-hour curfew which was imposed on the state by Governor Patrick Yakowa on Sunday was relaxed “on humanitarian ground” on Monday but had to be reverted yesterday following pockets of killings, arson and general destruction of property across the city.
He appealed to residents to remain peaceful and calm in their area, urged perpetrators to desist from their heinous crimes while noting that the police and other security agents are going to maintain peace and order in the state and would enforce the curfew to the last.
He further stated that though some irate youths blocked major roads in the metropolis yesterday, police and other security agents have dismantled the blockades, rescued women and children and safeguard some travelers.
National Mirror further gathered that the Evangelical Church of West Africa (ECWA) church situated at Aminu street was burnt down by the irate youths.
Speaking in a telephone interview with National Mirror, Secretary of ECWA District 19, Kaduna, Rev. Yusuf Biniyet, confirmed that an ECWA church was demolished yesterday by rampage youths. “One of our churches at Ungwan Kanawa, yet to be renovated from last year’s crisis was leveled down today by the youths in the area while the ECWA church in Tudun Wada was said to be burnt but we are yet to confirm that.”
In separate telephone interviews with National Mirror, Northern CAN Public Relations Officer, Mr. Sunday Oibe, said the association was not in support of the declaration of a state of emergency in the state.
He said those clamouring for emergency rule in the state should advice President Goodluck Jonathan to first declare such in Borno, Kano and Bauchi States.
Oibe said the government knows the perpetrators of the crime and should go after them, noting that CAN will resist any attempt to impose any emergency rule.
On his part, JNI Secretary-General, Dr Khalid Abubakar, said the situation at hand would be managed as the organisation has assembled Islamic preachers for peace talks.