Michael Olugbode and Ibrahim Shuaibu
Following Monday’s killing of a Boko Haram kingpin suspected to be its spokeman, Abu Qaqa, and the arrest of two others, the Joint Military Task Force (JTF) has uncovered a large cache of locally made bombs prepped for launching attacks on various targets in Kano, the Kano State capital.
The special military task force said in a statement Tuesday that 36 prepared improvised explosive devices (IEDs) were part of the recovery made by the security operatives during the capture of two members of the terrorist sect.
Although the discovery has helped in preventing imminent attacks on targets in Kano, the insurgent group struck in Bama, Borno State on Monday night, killing the state Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Zanna Malam Gana.
JTF spokesman in Kano, Lieutenant Ikedichi Iweha, said in a statement that the security agency, after the Monday incident, raided the suspects’ heavily-wired hideout, believed to be the sect’s control centre in Kano, during which two AK 47 rifles, two pump action rifles, one berretta rifle and one smoke discharger were seized.
The JTF, during the raid, also impounded 433 rounds of 7.62 Nato ammunition, 80 rounds of 7.62 special ammunition, two AK 47 magazines, 13 laptops, two motorcycles, four printers, one photocopier, one 33 slots Zenith disc writer, a generating set, religious books, large quantities of CD plates and two decoders.
Other items removed from the hideout included two satellite dishes, a 21'' television set, one DVD player, two bags of fertiliser and 10 hand held Motorola radios.
Iweha added that the killing of the Boko Haram chief and the arrest of two others had foiled the group’s planned attack on Kano.
The Islamic sect, however, continued to unleash a reign of terror on Borno State where it killed Gana.
The attack on Gana came a day after the insurgents engaged security agents in a gun duel in Borno on Sunday night, leading to the death of no fewer than 10 persons.
Gana was killed in Bama, his hometown, which is about 75 kilometres from Maiduguri, the capital of the troubled state.
Sources said he was at a local meeting place with some friends and relatives when four gunmen stormed the venue.
“They demanded money first and he immediately offered N100,000. Then they said it was not enough and he begged that he should be allowed to pick some money in his car just in front of where they were seated but they said there was no need.
“They said his journey has ended today (Monday) and they shot him in the chest and head and then fled,” an eyewitness and family member of the deceased recalled Tuesday in Bama during the burial of the commissioner.
Gana, 63, was said to have travelled to Bama during the weekend and had planned to return to Maiduguri on Sunday but was compelled to alter his plan when JTF troops shut down the Bama-Maiduguri Road after the Sunday bomb explosions and killings.
He reportedly returned to Bama on Sunday afternoon, but unknown to him that he was returning to his death.
“He left Bama on Sunday morning to return to Maiduguri but was compelled to return to Bama again because soldiers had already cordoned off the Bama end of the road in Maiduguri due to the bomb blast and killings that day.
“He stayed on the road for about three hours and decided to return to Bama again when it became impossible for him to enter the state capital,” the eyewitness said.
The state Governor, Alhaji Kashim Shettima, who led government delegation to attend the funeral rites, could not control his emotion as he shed tears.
In Maiduguri, men of the JTF and some members of the Boko Haram sect had engaged in an exchange of gunfire that left at least 10 persons dead while some houses were set ablaze.
An eyewitness, Mallam Usman Abdullahi, told reporters that a locally made bomb, suspected to have been planted on Sunday by some terrorists targeting a security patrol vehicle in Gwange Ward of Maiduguri, exploded leaving two men of the JTF seriously injured.
“Soon after the explosion, gunshots followed, but the JTF after repelling the attack quickly cordoned off the area,” he said.
A hospital attendant at the State Specialist Hospital, who craved anonymity, told THISDAY that he saw two patrol vehicles of the JTF with some bodies around the gate of the hospital, adding that each of the vehicles had five bodies in it.
Also on Sunday at about 8.45 pm, some gunmen shot and injured a businessman and a stalwart of the ruling All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) in Yobe State, Alhaji Mustapha Sheriff Mashidimami.
It was gathered that the gunmen, who invaded the family house of the politician in Maiduguri, demanded some unspecified amount of money, but when he was unable to meet their demand, they shot and injured him before they fled.
Efforts to speak on the phone to the JTF spokesman, Lt. Col. Sagir Musa, and the Police Public Relations Officer, Gideon Jibrin, were unsuccessful because of communication glitches occasioned by the attacks on some telecommunications masts of service providers in the state.
In a related development, the former Controller-General of the Nigerian Prisons, Jarma Katagun, has died as a result of complications from the gunshot wounds inflicted on him by suspected members of Boko Haram.
Katagun was shot in his hometown of Azare, Bauchi State, shortly after he left a mosque and was rushed to a local hospital for immediate treatment.
He later died following complications from his gunshot wounds. Also, two security guards attached to the ex-prisons official lost their lives in the attack.