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2012: Year of Bombs, Floods, Fire

2012: Year of Bombs, Floods, Fire

The scars are still noticeable and the people of the north remain frightened. But there seems to be no let in the spate of bombings in the region. When Sunday Sun in its annual review, published in December 2011, stated that 97 suicide bombers were waiting to take their turns in 2012, not many Nigerians believed the report.

However, events that followed proved the report to be true. Beginning from Kano in January 20, 2012, the dreaded Islamist sect, Boko Haram, unleashed mayhem on virtually all parts of the region, with the exception of Jigawa, Kwara, Nasarawa, Benue and Zamfara states.

Apart from the January attack that claimed 168 lives, Kano witnessed another bloodletting on April 29, 2012, in which worshipers who had converged on one of the lecture theatres of University of Kano for their Sunday church service on campus were victims. In the end, about 15 people were killed and scores wounded. Although there were subsequent bomb attacks in the ancient city of Kano, none came close to the first two incidents of January and April respectively.

Apart from Kano, the bombings, killings and maiming were more pronounced in Bauchi, Maidguguri and Kaduna, during the year under review. For instance, in Bauchi on Sunday June 3, 2012, a suicide bomber tried to force his way into the Living Faith Church also known as Winners Chapel in Yelwa Tudu area, killing nine worshippers including the suicide bomber, while 27 others? were injured and rushed to the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University Teaching Hospital, Bauchi. The ceiling and glass windows of the church and the nearby Harvest Field Church were destroyed by the impact of the blast.

Three months later, on September 23, another suicide bomber attacked Saint John’s Catholic Church, Bauchi, opposite Abubakar Tafawa Balewa Stadium, killing two people and injuring 46 others. Three weeks later,?there was a twin bomb explosion at Gudun Hausawa and Zango area in?Bauchi Metropolis.?One of the explosions destroyed the pulpit of the COCIN Church in Zango and a nearby building while the second explosion destroyed a fence in Gudum Sayawa. There were no casualties in both explosions.

Following the development, most churches in the State capital have resorted to extreme security measures that include building barricades in church entrance and mounting road blocks as well as the use of metal detectors to frisk people. Also, soldiers block some roads during church services in parts of the State capital and bordering towns. However, despite these measures, church attendance has drastically reduced.

Killings in Mosques Although there has been no direct attack on any mosque in Bauchi, a number of Muslim worshippers have however been trailed to the mosques and killed. For instance, Inspector Babangida attached to the Government House, Bauchi, was killed after observing the early morning prayers in the Nassarawa area of the State capital. Also, the Comptroller of Prisons, Jarma, was killed after the late evening prayer in Azare, just as Shehu, the Maijindadi of Katagum was gunned down as he came out of the mosque. Killing of security agents About 11 policemen and four soldiers have so far been killed between January and December 2012, in Bauchi State.

On August 7, 2012, gunmen killed two policemen on patrol on Bauchi-Kano road and two weeks later, two other policemen were gunned down on Kano road. On Sunday, November 17, at Nassarawa?road, Bauchi, gunmen killed a Police Inspector attached to the Government House. Also, two soldiers were killed at Gadau Motor Park in Azare, while two other soldiers also lost their lives when youths of Azare and security agents chased gunmen who attacked the ancient town in December 2012.

Bombings in Kaduna The first blast in Kaduna occurred on February 7, 2012, when a lone suicide bomber forced his way into the 1 Mechanized Army Headquarters building, Kaduna and bombed part of the building, injuring some soldiers on duty. Barely a week after that incident, there were two other explosions on February 13, 2012 at Ungwan Sarki Bus Stop, Kaduna. No victim was recorded in the first explosion but the second blast claimed the life of a police anti-bomb officer identified as Sergeant Sunday Badang while he attempted to detonate the explosive.

On Easter Sunday, April 8, 2012, a suicide bomber struck again in Kaduna and killed about 40 persons, injured over 20 others while a church, houses, hotels and vehicles were blown off. Again on June 17, 2012, three explosions occurred in three different churches in Kaduna State. The blasts occurred in Wusasa and Sabon Gari areas of Zaria and Shalom church in Trikania area of Kaduna metropolis. On April 26, 2012, the Kaduna staffers of The Sun, Thisday, and the Moment newspapers as well as other persons narrowly escaped death when a suicide bomber hit the office complex with bomb laden vehicle containing 11 camp gas cylinders, all neatly wired to the steering of the vehicle. Although the bomb failed to explode instantly, three people died on the spot when the bomber removed one the explosives and threw it out, following pressures to remove the explosives by those beating him.

Few days later however, three other persons who had been rushed to the hospital also died. On August 14, 2012, two persons suspected to be suicide bombers were killed along Ali Akilu road in Kaduna when objects suspected to be Improvised Explosives Device (IED) exploded on them while heading to an unidentified target. It was later gathered that Dr. Ahmed Gumi, a renowned preacher was the target. He had used the occasion of the Ramadan to lampoon members of Boko Haram. Just when the residents were heaving a sigh of relief, another Church, Saint Rita’s Catholic Church, Ungwan Yero, Malali in Kaduna was bombed by a suicide bomber on October 28, 2012 when he rammed into the Church fence in an SUV Honda CRV, killing eight worshipers while 145 others sustained various degree of injuries.

The State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) said it had compiled the list of neighbouring houses destroyed by the bomb blast, adding that, “about 59 houses were affected”. The latest suicide bombing at the time of filing this report, hit a military church in Jaji cantonment on November 25, 2012, killing over 30 and injuring scores of people. A top military officer who sustained injury in the blast, Air Commodore Alechenu Ekagbo, died two weeks later in Cairo, Egypt where he had been rushed to for medical attention. Air Commodore Ekagbo was said to be relaxing in his Brigadier Quarters, Jaji, when the exploded bomb hit his house and injured him.

Investigation by Sunday Sun indicated that for now, there is no record of bombing of mosques in Kaduna, but the various bomb blasts claimed the lives of both Christians and Muslims in the State, even as there were targeted killings of Muslims including Ward Heads who the sect accused of spying on its activities. A particular District Head who is also a Muslim, has so far survived three attempts on his life. Chronicle of Boko Haram bomb attacks, killing in Borno, Yobe? The first major attempt at tackling the Boko Haram insurgency and other sectarian crises in the north was on January 1, 2012, when President Goodluck Jonathan declared a state of emergency in 15 local government areas of the North Eastern states of Borno and Yobe states tormented by the militant Islamic sect and the North Central state of Plateau.

Four days later, precisely on January 4, the group reacted with two bomb explosions that hit the perimeter fence of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) House near the Gamboru market in Maiduguri, though without casualty. On January 30, an up tick of violence was recorded as no fewer than six people were killed by suspected Boko Haram members while multiple blasts apparently by the sect, rocked the Shehuri North area of the metropolis. ? In a statement by the then Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) of the Borno State command, Samuel Tizher, an Assistant Superintendent of Police, on January 30, 2012, three unknown gunmen shot dead three persons in Maiduguri.

“At about 19.30 hours, three unknown gunmen attacked the house of one Abubakar Gaji of Old Gomari Airport few metres away from the mini-Air Force barracks in Maiduguri and shot two people,” the police spokesman said, adding that the gunmen snatched a Honda car and killed a man believed to be an Air Force personnel. On Tuesday, March 7, gunmen stormed the Potiskum home of the Comptroller of Customs, Borno Area Command, Alhaji Adamu Ahmadu in Yobe, barely three hours after he returned from an official engagement in Bauchi. An aide who was with him in the house when the assailants came, said that Ahmadu was killed shortly after evening prayer within his compound. “Usually, his gate is always locked when praying but gunmen entered through the small gate by pulling off the iron lock from behind,” the aide said. Also, suspected Boko Haram members gruesomely murdered nine technicians engaged in the construction of the Maiduguri Central Mosque on July 8, 2012.

The construction workers were slaughtered in their rented apartment around the Bolori area. On Friday, July 13, there was a failed attempt to bomb the Shehu of Borno, Alhaji Abubakar Umar Garbai El-kanemi and the deputy governor of Borno State, Alhaji Zanna Mustapha near the Maiduguri Central Mosque located in front of the Shehu’s palace. The 14-year- old suicide bomber that was said to have wrapped the explosive devices round his body, lost his life in the process. Also, on October 9, a bomb explosion targeted at a patrol vehicle of the Joint Task Force (JTF) along the popular Lagos Street, claimed the lives of an Army Lieutenant and two soldiers.

Scores were also reportedly killed in a reprisal by the JTF troops who were reportedly angered by the killing of their officer and men while over 100 house, shops and business premises were set ablaze. A bloody Monday came exactly a week after a similar incident occurred on same Lagos Street in front of a popular hotel. A lieutenant in the Nigeria Army and a soldier were badly injured. A week earlier, a soldier was killed and set ablaze by suspected Boko Haram militants at Gwange, leading to a deadly shoot-out and burning of houses in the area.

On Sunday, September 16, 2012, gunmen believed to be Boko Haram visited the serene Bama town, about 78 kilomteres to Maiduguri, the Borno State capital, and left tears on their trail as the State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Zannah Malam Gana was shot dead. Zannah was a member of the think tank for the Borno government since the hey days of ex-Gov Ali Modu Sheriff and was chairman of the committees for the construction of the 707 and 1000 housing units in the State since 2004. 

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