Kaduna church bombing
John Shiklam, Michael Olugbode and Damilola Oyedele
Damaturu, the Yobe State capital, and Kaduna State were shut down Tuesday following attacks by Boko Haram and reprisals by irate youths, respectively.
The Yobe State Government imposed a 24-hour curfew on Damaturu where suspected members of Boko Haram engaged soldiers in a protracted gun duel on Monday night.
Its Kaduna State counterpart was also forced to restore the 24-hour curfew it had relaxed on Monday to a dusk-to-dawn embargo on movement, following spiralling reprisals yesterday that trailed Sunday’s bombings of three churches in Kaduna and Zaria.
Yobe State Governor, Alhaji Ibrahim Gaidam, in a statement by his Special Adviser on Press Affairs and Information, Alhaji Abdullahi Bego, ordered residents of Damaturu to stay indoors all day in view of the security situation in the state.
It was gathered that the terrorist group had attacked security agents on Monday night in a bid to free some of their leaders who were arrested during a recent clampdown on Boko Haram members.
The police confirmed that three policemen were killed in coordinated attacks by the Boko Haram sect in Damaturu.
Although the Police Commissioner in the state, Mr. Patrick Egbuniwe, said four other police officers had been wounded in more than five hours of attacks, he did not give any detail about casualties from the side of the Islamic fundamentalists or civilians.
He told journalists that the police had not ascertained the number of civilian casualties and that his men had intensified their joint patrol with other security agencies to restore normalcy.
Some residents who spoke to THISDAY, however, said scores were killed in the attacks which lasted until the early hours of yesterday.
One of the residents said he saw more than 10 bodies on the streets at 8am Tuesday.
Another source confirmed that he saw many bodies being ferried to the General Hospital, Damaturu, and that many funeral services were held at the various burial grounds in the city between 10 am and 2 pm Tuesday.
In response to the long-drawn attack on Damturu, Monday, the governor, according to the statement, directed all residents of the state capital to keep away from the streets to allow officers and men of the Joint Task Force (JTF) and other security agencies continue with their efforts at restoring peace and protecting lives and property.
“The 24-hour curfew directive is for Damaturu metropolis only. Restriction of movement for other parts of the state, except Potiskum town, remains from 10 pm to 6 am daily. Restriction of movement in Potiskum town remains from 6 pm to 6 am daily,” the government stated.
The governor urged the residents to assist the JTF and other security agencies in their efforts at restoring normalcy in the state as he called for prayers for the state and Nigeria in this trying period.
In Kaduna, hopes by residents for some semblance of normalcy yesterday after the government had reduced the duration of the curfew in the state from dusk-to-dawn were dashed as the government restored the 24-hour restriction on movement that it had imposed on the state on Sunday.
The state government, while announcing the re-imposition of the 24-hour curfew, said in a statement by Mr. Reuben Buhari, media aide to the governor, Ibrahim Yakowa, that the decision was based on emerging security challenges in the state.
“In view of new security challenges that came up today (Tuesday), and based on the need to safeguard lives and property of citizens, the state government is hereby re-imposing a 24-hour curfew on all parts of the state.
“Consequently, everybody is strongly advised to go back home while security agencies continue with the task of ensuring total peace in the state,” the statement said.
It was gathered that the government was forced to rethink its Monday decision following the pandemonium that broke out in some parts of the city as youths regrouped for reprisals.
Police sources also revealed that Hausa youths in the Tudun Wada area of the capital city protested against the killing of their kindred last Sunday by youths in Sabon-Tasha and Gonin-Gora areas of the southern part of the metropolis.
The youths, according to the sources, were insisting that they would avenge the killings resulting from the reprisals that followed Sunday’s bombing of three churches in Kaduna and Zaria.
The protesting youths were said to have blocked the roads in the area and burnt tyres, a situation that caused panic among residents who started scampering to safety.
More soldiers and policemen, however, were deployed in strategic places in Kaduna while patrol teams were seen moving about in the city. A police helicopter was also seen hovering over the city.