President Goodluck Jonathan
By Ahamefula Ogbu and Wole Ayodele
As suspected Boko Haram militants Monday launched their fifth deadly attacks in five days, President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan has reassured Nige-rians and foreigners that his administration was taking every necessary action to end the spate of terrorist atrocities in the country.
The Taraba State Commis-sioner of Police (CP), Mr. Mamman Sule, narrowly escaped death in the bomb blast that occurred in the early hours of yesterday which left 11 persons dead and 15 others seriously injured.
Last Thursday, THISDAY offices in Kaduna and Abuja were attacked by suicide bombers, with eight lives lost.
On Sunday, attacks on churches during their services at the Old Campus of Bayero University, Kano (BUK), left 35 persons, including two professors and five doctors, dead, while another attack on the Church of Christ in Nigeria (COCIN), Jere, Borno State, led to the death of the pastor and two worshippers who were observing the Holy Communion in the evening.
Against the background of the upsurge in these attacks, Jonathan urged Nigerians and foreigners living in the country not to be discouraged or deterred “from going about their regular affairs by the persistence of the mindless bombings and gun attacks”.
The Taraba blast, which occurred 200 metres away from the State Government House, Jalingo, at 8.45am, threw the ancient town into serious panic and pandemonium as shops were hurriedly closed and people ran to pick their children from schools.
Though the police commissioner escaped unhurt, the police outrider driving ahead of him, Cpl Usman Mohammed, lost his limbs, while the front windshield of the CP’s car was smashed by the impact of the blast.
Police sources put the casualties at three, but officials of the Red Cross Society claimed that 11 persons died in what was the first bomb blast recorded in the state since the spate of violent attacks and bombings started in the North.
Taraba had been the only state in the North-east zone that had not experienced attacks.
At the scene of the blast, charred bodies of the casualties littered the road as officials of the Red Cross Society battled to move them to the mortuary.
One of the casualties, according to Sule, is believed to have detonated the bomb which destroyed the fence of the secretariat of Nigeria Union of Pensioners (NUP) and parts of the offices of the state Accountant General and his deputy, including the office of the Chairman of the state Planning Commission, Mr. Daniel Elisha.
Also among the casualties is a member of staff in the accounts department of the state Ministry of Information, Mr. Nuhu Titus, whom police initially thought was one of the bombers but the Commissioner for Finance, Mr. Iliya Wanapia, told journalists that he was coming to resume work when he was caught in the blast.
The CP, who briefed journalists in his office on the development, said: “Around 8.45am, when I was coming to the office, around the Government House roundabout, the only thing I heard was a big blast. All I saw in my front was my outrider lying down flat. But when I got to the office, I learnt three people died but my outrider sustained injuries and was rushed to the Federal Medical Centre where he is receiving treatment.
“So far, three persons were confirmed dead and among them is believed to be the person that detonated the improvised explosive device but the CID is investigating the incident to ascertain the level of damage.”
Sule, who denied being the target of the attack, appealed to the people of the state to be vigilant and report any suspicious movements around them to the police.
He assured them that such information would be treated with utmost confidentiality.
At the Federal Medical Centre, Jalingo, the Medical Director, Dr. Wiza, confirmed to THISDAY that 15 injured persons were brought to the hospital but four of them whose cases were more critical had been moved to the theatre where doctors were battling to save their lives.
The Acting Inspector General of Police (IG), Alhaji Mohammed Abubakar, yesterday said in spite of the lethal bomb attacks in some parts of the country, the police were not overwhelmed by the situation, claiming that they had ensured improved security.
Abubakar, who came to see Vice-President Namadi Sambo apparently to brief him on the latest blast, claimed that there had been improvement in security and curtailing the activities of Boko Haram since he took over as head of police in the country.
Asked if he was overwhelmed by the relentless blasts mostly in the Northern part of the country, he replied: “Not at all!”
Meanwhile, the Adamawa State Police Command has lost over 45 police personnel to gunmen, suspected to be members of Boko Haram in separate shootouts and their arms and ammunition carted away, since January this year.
A source at the police headquarters told THISDAY that an average of five policemen is being killed every week across the state in shoot-out incidents.
In Jimeta metropolis alone, “we lost over four officers in the last three days. No day has passed in the last three days that we have not recorded a shootout,” an officer said.
The command spokesman, Mr. Nemuel Yoila, admitted that the command was losing men to the gunmen suspected to be Boko Haram, but declined to state the exact figures, saying he needed time to ascertain the figures.
Federal and state civil servants working at the federal and state secretariats, as well as policemen heading towards the Adamawa State Police Command headquarters, were hurriedly diverted from the police roundabout road leading to the offices, following a bomb scare in the early hours of Monday.
The bomb scare, which left so many injured while scampering for their lives at about 8.20am, started when a Honda Accord car was observed parked adjacent an area court at the roundabout leading to the police headquarters.
The car was said to have attracted a patrol team of the joint internal security outfit, which immediately cordoned off the area and diverted both vehicular and human traffic along the busy route for over three hours.
Confirming the incident, Yoila said the Bomb Disposal Squad discovered that it was just an empty parked vehicle “containing nothing”.