Governor Babangida Aliyu of Niger state
By Aisha Wakaso in Minna, John Shiklam in Kaduna and Paul Obi in Abuja
Barely a month after a bomb blast rocked the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Niger East senatorial campaign flag-off killing 10 and injuring many others in Suleja, Niger State, another bomb explosion occurred Friday at the Suleja office of the Independent National Electoral Commission.
The exact casualty figure was not clear Friday, but unconfirmed report put the figure at 25.
Most of those killed were said to be National Youth Service Corps members getting ready to serve as adhoc staff for the election.
THISDAY gathered that the explosion, which took place around 6pm at the Kwamba office of INEC in Suleja, happened at the time the corp members converged on the commission’s office to check their names on the INEC notice board to ascertain their posting for the polls.
An eye witness, Mallam Bisala Baba-Sule, who claimed to be at the INEC premises when the explosion occurred said when the bomb exploded, most of the victims were dismembered and their bodies littered the office complex.
He said he couldn’t tell exactly how it happened because the place was crammed, adding that all he heard was a loud bang after which all those who were searching for their names were lying on the ground.
Baba-Sule said bodies of both the dead and the injured littered the premises of Suleja General Hospital with few medical personnel to attend to the injured.
According to him, the police immediately cordoned off the INEC office making people around the area run frantically to a safe distance.
By Friday night, security men had cordoned off the INECâ€ˆSuleja office while the military also blocked the road leading to the area.
At the Minna INEC headquarters, the staff quickly deserted the office while the police have beefed up security there to avert further occurrence.
Police Public Relations Officer, Richard Oguche, confirmed the incident adding that the commissioner of Police, Mr. Bala Hassan, was already in Suleja and that investigation had already commenced.
Niger State Governor , Dr. Muazu Babangida Aliyu , in a statement by his Director-General, Media and Public Affairs, Mallam Bala Ibrahim Abdulkadir, condemned the act in its entirety. He noted that whatever the objective of the perpetrators were, the state government would not be deterred in its set objective of providing good governance to the people.
He called on the people of the state to remain calm and come out en-masse to vote, adding that the perpetrators had failed if their intention was to disrupt or dampen the spirit of the people in the electoral process.
NEMA has mobilised its men and other stakeholders to the site of the bomb blast.
According to the agency’s Head of Media and Publicity Yushau Shuaib, the rescue officials are to search and cordone off the area and assist victims as well.
Senate President David Mark , in his reaction , condemned the bombing, describing the act as barbaric and inhuman.
Mark who expressed dismay over such an act on the eve of National Assembly elections urged Nigerians not to be deterred.
He said those responsible for the callous act cannot derail democracy.
Meanwhile, in Kaduna one suspected bomber was killed instantly while another was seriously injured as one of the dynamites loaded in three sacks was said to have exploded in Kakuki area of the city.
They were allegedly attempting to make the bomb they intended to use in Saturday’s election when it occured.
The Kaduna State Police Command, which said it had uncovered plans to bomb some parts of the city as part of moves to destabilise the election, stated that the injured person was taken to St Gerald’s Catholic Hospital in Kakuri area of Kaduna.
The state’s Police Commissioner Haruna John said already, over 100 strands of dynamites loaded in three sacks had been discovered.
John who visited the suspect at his hospital bed told newsmen that the bombs were capable of bringing down any building in the state.
According to the police commissioner, "at about 5.00pm yesterday, the attention of our DPO in Kurmi Mashi was drawn to the fact that two men bearing sacks were unconscious after the sack they were carrying exploded.
"Our men rushed there and the two men, this one on hospital bed and one Lawal who is not dead were picked up and taken to several hospitals and eventually admitted here on the understanding that the police will pay the bills.
"We sent our bomb disposal unit led by an Assistant Superintendent of Police to the scene where they discovered a second sack which they detonated immediately. They, along with the CID and the SSS conducted a search in the area and discovered a house belonging to this man here (the injured bomber) that was securely locked."
The Police Commissioner said two more sacks were discovered in the house that were loaded with materials for making bombs ready for detonation.
Answering questions on his hospital bed, the surviving suspect who gave his name simply as Mohammed claimed that the bomb was brought to them by Osama Bin Ladin, adding, however, that his late colleague never told him what the bombs were intended for.
Also reacting , Jega described the bombing as very sad: “It is with heavy heart and sorrow that we received the news this evening of an explosion that occurred at the INEC LGA office in Suleja,” said Jega in a statement Friday night.
Jega sysmpatised with the families of victims but said INEC would not allow the bombing to disrupt preparations for the elections.