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Nigeria in bad odour, President vows end to insecurity

| June 22, 2012 More

Bomber dies as explosives go off in transit

Jonathan carpets critics

Pope decries attacks on Christians in the North

Britain issues travel alert to citizens

NIGERIA’S image at the best of times has always been far from the ideal. But with the orgy of violence unleashed on some parts of the country in the past few days, it is now a stark reality that the nation is in bad odour in the comity of nations. This is evident in the reaction of world leaders and even nations to the blood-letting in Nigeria. Only yesterday, Britain alerted her citizens in the country to the danger zone which Nigeria has become and asked them to shun traveling to certain parts of the country.

This came just as Pope Benedict XVI lamented the incessant attacks on churches and asked for peace to reign.

Meanwhile, providence sided with the targets of a suspected suicide bomber in Bauchi yesterday as the improvised explosives devices (IEDs) he was conveying to kill off his would-be victims went off untimely, maiming him in the process.

The incident occurred along Gombe Road near the Federal Government Girls College, Bauchi. A pistol was reportedly found on the suicide bomber who did not die immediately from the blast and gave his name as Abdurrahman Abu Huzaifah.

While Bauchi State Police Commissioner, Mohammed Ladan and the Army Public Relations Officer, Maj. Michael Etete confirmed the incident yesterday, they both declined to give further details.

But a top security source in Bauchi told The Guardian that Huzaifah, before he fell unconscious and die in a hospital, said he came to Bauchi from Maiduguri, Borno.

According to eyewitnesses, the IEDs went off shortly after Huzaifah alighted from a car and was walking briskly to an unknown destination.

The bomb threw the courier into a grassy ditch and sent those at the scene scampering for safety.

An eyewitness said: “When we heard the sound, we ran for our dear lives but later we summon courage to see what happened. We then saw the man in pool of blood. We thought the man was dead but later he spoke and explained that he was doing the work of God and that he would not stop it. The police later came and took him away unconscious.”

No fewer than 21 people were killed and 60 injured two weeks ago after a suicide bomber attacked a church in Yelwa, Bauchi State.

Meanwhile, President Goodluck Jonathan yesterday in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil denounced “the incessant and often unjustifiable criticism” of his Administration, much of which he said was based on lies.

The President also asked Nigeria’s political class not to sacrifice the progress and wellbeing of the nation on the altar of personal political ambitions.

President Jonathan told members of the Nigerian Community in Brazil after his arrival for the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development that Nigeria would make faster progress towards fulfilling its immense potential if all Nigerians unite in support of the sincere efforts of his administration to positively transform the country.

The President said: “One of the problems we have is that some Nigerians play politics with everything. But we cannot destroy our country because of personal political ambitions. We now have constitutional democracy and no one can stay in office forever. It will therefore be best for our nation if we all support whoever is there for the development of the country instead of trying to pull him down by all means.”

He assured that the Federal Government was working hard to overcome current security challenges.

The President stated: “We have challenges, but they are not insurmountable. We remain fully focused and committed to national development in spite of sponsored lies against this administration. We are ready to work together with all of our people to move the country forward.  We will work even harder to place concrete realities on the ground that will further prove our sincerity and commitment to all Nigerians.”

Also, Catholic Pontiff, Pope Benedict XVI, has called for an immediate end to “terrorist attacks” against Christians in Nigeria. He pleaded with all parties to the crisis to shun all forms of retaliation.

At his weekly general audience yesterday, the Pope said: “I am following with deep concern the news from Nigeria, where terrorist attacks are continuing especially against Christians.

“I appeal to those responsible for the violence to immediately stop the spilling of the blood of many innocents.”

The Pope also charged other Nigerians to shun “the path of vendetta” and work towards building a peaceful society for them to freely practise their religion.

However, the British High Commission in Nigeria yesterday advised its citizens not to travel to Borno and Yobe states in the North and Delta, Bayelsa, Rivers, Akwa Ibom and Cross River states in the Niger Delta.

On its website, the High Commission also listed Warri in Delta State, Kano City and Kaduna as areas Britons should avoid.

It said all but essential travels should only be made to Bauchi State, Jos (Plateau State), Gombe State, Mubi Town in Adamawa State and the area north of Mubi Town that borders Borno State.

Meanwhile, the Speaker of Gauteng Provincial Legislature in South Africa, Mrs. Lindiwe Maseko, has condemned terrorism in Africa and advised the Federal Government to dialogue with Boko Haram sect.

Maseko, who described as unfortunate the escalation of violence in the North, said if the trend was not checked, it could hinder development in Nigeria.

The first female Speaker of the province, who is on a five-day visit to Ekiti State, in a lecture she delivered at the College of Education, Ikere-Ekiti on Tuesday, canvassed full independence for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

The Prelate of Methodist Church Nigeria, Dr. Sunday Ola Makinde, has also appealed to President Goodluck Jonathan, the National Assembly and other eminent Nigerians within and outside the country to help stop the violence in the North.

He warned that if immediate actions were not taken to address the bombings in the North as reprisal attacks gain grounds in some areas, “we may just be walking towards another avoidable civil war.”

Reacting to the recent bombings in Kaduna and Zaria, the cleric asked: “For how long are we going to remain silent? Here we are begging the issue while innocent people are being killed and their loved ones are yet to get justice. Is it a crime to be a Christian in any part of Nigeria? Every time we raise the alarm and call for action, they will say it has no religious coloration. This saddens my heart. Before the Sunday’s bombings, no fewer than 200 people have been killed in 12 attacks on churches or Christian gatherings in northern Nigeria this year alone and the al-Qaeda-backed Boko Haram sect has admitted that it carried out 10 of them.”

Meanwhile, calm returned to Kaduna metropolis yesterday, as the 24-hour curfew continued.

Many parts of the metropolis were deserted as armed soldiers and policemen patrolled the city. Several roadblocks were also set up across the state capital.

The crisis has also taken its toll on flight operations in the city as airlines have suspended their operations to Kaduna.

IRS and Aero, two airlines that operate the route gave “security” as reason for the suspension.

Some residents were seen within their neighborhoods searching for what to buy, as the few opened shops ran out of foodstuff and other essential commodities.

A Tudun Wada resident, Malam Rabiu Ahmed told The Guardian: “This curfew may turn out to be another disaster because many people did not store foodstuff at home before the government declared it. The government should do something about it otherwise it may result to many of us dying of hunger”.

Another resident at Sabo, Mr. Joan Maliki said: “You can see, everybody in this area is looking for what to buy and eat. Some don’t even have the money and there is a 24-hour curfew.”

Commissioner of Information, Saidu Adamu, said government was still collating the casualty figures from Tuesday’s reprisals, which it would soon made public.

In another development, the Shehu of Borno, Alhaji Abubakar Ibn Garbai El-Kanemi, yesterday renewed calls on the Boko Haram sect to end its attacks and embrace dialogue with the Federal Government.

El-Kanemi made the call in a keynote address he presented at a workshop for local council hajj fares collectors at the State Hotel, Maiduguri.

His words: “Members of the Boko Haram sect should boldly come out and dialogue with government to end these violent attacks and bombings in the North. They should seek the course of peace and harmony in the months ahead and beyond.

“The bedrock of Islam is peace and this great attribute of our religion must not be overlooked. I am appealing to our brothers to stop the acts of violence and come forward for dialogue if they wish to seek redress on any issue.”

El-Kanemi also charged the Federal Government and Borno State government to handle any dialogue with the sect with

utmost sincerity, “so that enduring peace and unity could be attained.”

Also, Governor Ibrahim Gaidam of Yobe State has urged residents of the state to disregard a text message aiming to cause disaffection between Christians and Muslims in the state.

In a statement by his Special Adviser on Public Affairs and Information, Abdullahi Bego, Gaidam stated: “We wish to state

categorically that the entire content of the text being circulated is false, misleading, mischievous and unfounded.”

Last Monday’s attacks, the governor stressed, affected all residents regardless of religious inclination. He therefore, urges both Muslims and Christians in the state to continue to pray to God to restore peace and security in Yobe State and the nation at large.

But Chairman, Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Yobe State, Rev. Idi Garba, yesterday alleged that churches were specifically targeted in the attacks.

Garba stated: “Thank you for your concerns about these attacks and bombings in Damaturu. The burnt churches in Damaturu are as follows: Church of Christ in Nigeria (COCIN) Regional Church Council (RCC), Headquarters at Pwari, COCIN Bakin kogi; and Tracon Church.”

However, as the government continued to beef up the level of security in Kaduna State, the Chief of Defence Staff, Air Marshal Oluseyi Petinrin and the Acting Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Dikko Abubakar, yesterday undertook an on-the-spot assessment of the security situation and assured the state government that security agents will continue to ensure that those hiding under religion to foment trouble are brought to book.

Both top security chiefs were accompanied on the visit by other senior military and police personnel to access the situation in the metropolis, which had been engulfed by crisis since last Sunday’s bomb explosions in Zaria and Kaduna.

The Defence and Police chiefs held a closed-door meeting with Governor Patrick Ibrahim Yakowa and also commiserated with the government and people of the state over the unfortunate incident in the state, while assuring residents and the government that security agencies will collaborate more to ensure that normalcy returns to the state immediately.

Petinrin and Abubakar commended the state government for the way it has handled the crisis in the state so far. After the meeting, they both went round the metropolis to see things for themselves.

Category: Bauchi State News

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