WAR DRUMS

2012-01-08
SUN Newspaper

The dreaded Islamic sect, Boko Haram made real its January 1 threat yesterday as it launched a deadly attack on worshippers at a church in Yola, the Adamawa State capital, killing no fewer than 11 people.

The attack came barely five hours after the Inspector General of Police, Hafiz Ringim assured Christians and southerners residing in the North of their safety, promising that the police would nip any possible attack on the people in the bud. The attack, also came barely 24 hours after some Igbos were killed, in Mubi, also in Adamawa State, by men suspected to be Boko Haram members.
The attack was said to have been carried out at about 7.30 pm yesterday with the sect members numbering about five storming a local assembly of Christ Apostolic Church within Yola metropolis in a gulf car and opening fire on worshippers.

“They came in a gulf car and they were about five of them in the car though we never thought they were in the area for such a thing. They just opened fire at the members of the church who were holding the New Year week of prayer. Eleven people died while about 10 other members that sustained injuries from gunshots have been taken to different hospitals in the town for
treatment,” a dependable source who preferred anonymity disclosed.
Sources said there were apprehensions among residents of Yola yesterday morning as residents feared the Islamic sect might have infiltrated the city. “This is the first time the sect is launching attack here and there
are fears that more may still be coming in the days ahead,” a journalist who also lost his cousin, Deacon Emma Timothy, who was leading the prayer, at the time of the attack, disclosed.

Sunday Sun gathered that it was the tradition of the church to hold a week of prayer in the first week of every New Year to usher in a new dawn. The week of prayer was expected to end on Saturday evening with thanksgiving on Sunday but unknown to them, some assailants had laid ambush for them a day to rounding off the spiritual exercise.
Relatives of the deceased victims of the attacks were said to have stormed a few hospital mortuaries in search of the remains of their beloved ones. Spokesman of the National Emergency Management Authority (NEMA) in charge of North East, Ibrahim Farinloye appealed to the people not to panic, adding that government was determined to restore peace in the troubled areas.

Fear of reprisal in Sapele
Nigerians of northern extraction have started leaving Asaba, Delta State capital in droves for fear of reprisal attacks.
The exodus started on Thursday following threats of reprisal attacks by southerners on Muslims. There have been renewed activities of the dreaded Boko Haram Islamic sect which has ordered southerners to vacate the North or face further attacks. Following the order by the sect, speculations had been rife that southerners would retaliate by attacking Muslims in the South.

Sunday Sun reports that Friday’s early morning attack on Muslims in Sapele mosque appeared to have given credence to the speculation. Despite Delta State government’s assurance to Muslim community in the state of peaceful co-existence with other religious groups, the northerners seemed to have taken their destinies in their own hands.
When Sunday Sun visited the Hausa community in Asaba, they were moving in droves packing their luggage in ‘Ghana Must Go’ bags. Their destinations upon enquiry were Kano, Kaduna or Sokoto. Chairman of Asaba Cattle Rearers Association, Alhaji Makuidi Ningi who spoke with our correspondent, expressed dismay over the seeming lack of security for Nigerians in every part of the country.

He said they now live in fear of being attacked regretting lack of police patrol around the metropolis.
Ningi confirmed that the exodus of the northerners from Asaba started on Thursday and that it would continue till Monday when the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) is expected to commence a nation-wide strike against the removal of oil subsidy. According to him, over 10,000 northerners had so far traveled out of Asaba as a proactive measure against reprisal attacks. Meanwhile, markets in Asaba at the weekend witnessed an unprecedented rush as anxious buyers trooped shopped in preparation for the work-to-rule billed to commence tomorrow as directed by NLC in protest against the removal of fuel subsidy.
They stormed the markets in efforts to stock-pile food stuff in their homes should the strike extend unnecessarily.

Southerners flee Yobe, Borno
Thousands of residents mostly of southern extraction fled Damaturu, the Yobe State capital and Maiduguri, Borno State early this week following the January 1 threat by the Islamic Boko Haram sect to launch offensive against southerners in the north. In Damaturu, the Christian dominated Jerusalem ward known for its bustling activities looked like a grave yard yesterday as many of the residents who celebrated their Christmas in the city were compelled to leave when the news of Boko Haram threat filtered into the state.

Johnson, one of the residents who had earlier relocated his family in November last year after the November 4 deadly attacks that left no fewer than 100 persons dead disclosed that he had vowed not to return to Damaturu again even with the state of emergency declared by President Jonathan. The situation in Borno was not different as many who did not travel for the Yuletide had to pay through their nose as the cost of transportation shut up astronomically.
Meanwhile, the Boko Haram yesterday said it was responsible for the series of attacks in Damaturu, Maiduguri, Gombe and Adamawa, adding that it would continue to pursue its mission undeterred.

Abul-Qaqa, the spokesman of the Boko Haram, said his group was responsible for the Thursday and Friday’s attacks in Gombe and Mubi in Adamawa State where many people were killed. “We are extending our frontiers to other places in order to show that the declaration of State of Emergency by the Nigerian federal government will not deter us. In fact, we can always change our tactics…we can really go wherever we want to go. For peace to return, the federal government must release all our brothers that have been incarcerated in various prisons,” he said.

He said the attack in Mubi, Adamawa State was part of actualization of the ultimatum given to Southerners to vacate Northern Nigeria. “A group in the South threatened and started attacking northerners. The truth is that we would always confront whoever attacks our brothers,” Qaqa added. Sunday Sun learnt that there was exchange of gunshots between some assailants and members of the Joint Task Force (JTF) in Potiskum, Yobe State yesterday afternoon. Sources claimed the sporadic gunshots were heard around a police station in Nassarawa ward and St. Paul’s Catholic Church in Potiskum.

“As I am talking to you now, all of us have fled home for safety. The trouble started around 5pm and continued unabated. From where I am, I am seeing smoke billowing, which is a sign that some buildings must have been set ablaze,” the source who preferred anonymity said.

Boko Haram kills 3, bombs 4 banks, 1 church in Borno
Three persons including a mobile policeman were yesterday killed with many injured in separate attacks by Boko Haram in Potiskum, Borno State.
The sect had attacked four banks and a church shooting sporadically. Among the victims was an Igbo businessman. Sources said shooting continued in the town till the early hours of yesterday.

Exodus: Yoruba’ll not fold hands –OPC
As tension grips the country over activities of the dreaded Boko Haram sect and resultant exodus of people to their regions, the Oodua Peoples’ Congress (OPC) has said if there was any evidence of molestation of the Yoruba in the North, it would react accordingly. The spiritual leader of the congress, Dr. Fredrick Fasehun, told Sunday Sun yesterday that for now the congress had no evidence that the Yoruba were fleeing the North but insisted that if it happens, the congress would not fold its hands.

“Well, we have no evidence that the Yoruba are leaving the North. When we have evidence, we will react accordingly”, he said. According to him, the group was still watching events as they unfold saying the Yoruba were just still “dancing to the Nigeria tune”. The group had few weeks ago held a rally in Lagos to sensitize the government about the Boko Haram menace and other insecurity problem in the country. During the rally, which involved hundreds of members of the congress, they passed through Ikorodu road to stadium in Surulere. Fasehun said the rally was to sensitize the government about the Boko Haram menace and other insecurity problems in the country.

He also promised that the group was capable of defending the Yoruba race.
“When we get to the bridge, we will cross it. We have always been on our toes”, he said when asked whether OPC was well prepared to curtail the rampaging sect in case they ventured into the South West.
The activities of the Boko Haram, particularly the Christmas Day bombing of a Catholic church in Niger State and the recent multiple murder of innocent persons by the sect haveß reportedly led to panicking and fleeing by hundreds of people from the Northern part of the country.

Ohanaeze to kinsmen: Don’t quit the North
The apex Igbo socio-cultural group, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, has condemned what it described as the senseless killings of Christians and mainly Igbo in some northern states in the country by the Boko Haram sect even as it said Ndigbo should remain wherever they are. In a statement issued yesterday, President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Ambassador Ralph Uwechue, said recent developments on the country’s security were worrisome, adding that the federal government should expedite action to arrest the situation.

“Ohaneze Ndigbo has observed with rapidly mounting concern the alarming deterioration of security in the northern parts of Nigeria, involving the wanton serial destruction of innocent lives, especially Ndigbo living in that part of the country. It is now clear that unpatriotic political and religious elements are bent on making our country ungovernable.”
It said the group will to hold the federal government responsible over the series of attacks on innocent people, especially Christians and Igbo.

“Ohanaeze Ndigbo is convinced that enough is enough while reiterating its urgent demand for the federal government to arrest this dangerous development capable of destroying our nation. Ohanaeze calls of Muslim leaders of our country to take immediate steps to rein in their hawks to prevent irreparable damage to the delicate ethno-religious harmony all well meaning Nigerians are strenuously striving to maintain.”
On the ultimatum given by Boko Haram that all non-Northerners and Christians should leave, Ohanaeze called on all Igbo living in the North to remain where they are, adding that the country belongs to everyone irrespective of ethnicity, religion or political diversity.

“Ohanaeze Ndigbo urges Igbo, who over the years have established national fruitful presence in different parts of Nigeria, to remain where they are in this country that belongs equally to all its citizens and organize appropriately and effectively to collectively defend their lives and property wherever they are while awaiting appropriate steps by the federal government as well as other bodies concerned to put an end to this calamitous phenomenon,” Uwechue said.
In a related development, other Igbo leaders yesterday also described as unwarranted the attacks on their kinsmen living in different parts of the country even as they sent a warning to the federal government to tackle the insecurity.
Addressing journalists yesterday against the backdrop of the growing insecurity in the northern part of the country, the immediate past Ohanaeze Ndigbo president-general, Dr Dozie Ikedife, called on President Jonathan to ensure adequate security of the lives and property of Ndigbo in all parts of the country.

The former President General, who addressed the media along with Chief Rommy Onwuka, proprietor of Rojenny Village, Oba, and Chief Fidelis Okafor, a prominent opinion leader, maintained that the Igbo have the constitutional liberty to live in any part of the country without fear of intimidation or molestation, stating that if the Federal Government fails to protect Ndigbo in any part of Nigeria, they will resort to self-defense.
Attributing the crisis to misunderstanding and selfish interest, Ikedife noted that the investments of Ndigbo in the North run into trillions of naira and they will not jettison all that for fear of any religious or ethnic militant group no matter the threat.

They said if the Nigerian state cannot continue to exist as a single entity, it should be dissolved without further shedding of blood. “The country is playing into the hands of the unknown, those that want the country to split and if anybody wants Ndigbo to remain in one Nigeria and massacre them, we will not accept that. It is offensive for the Federal government to say that they are on top of the security situaion while the number of casualties is growing.”

Adamawa govt declares curfew in major towns
Adamawa state government has declared a dusk- to- dawn curfew in major towns across the state, following Friday’s incident in which unidentified gunmen killed 12 people at a church in Yola. The Commissioner for Information, Alhaji Abdurrahman Jimeta, who disclosed this on Saturday, said that the curfew affected major towns like Mubi, Numan, Michika and Gombi. The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that unidentified gunmen in two separate attacks killed 14 people between Jan. 5 and Jan. 6. Jimeta urged people of Adamawa to remain calm and be law abiding, noting that government had taken necessary steps to contain the situation.

Also speaking on the issue, the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) in the command, Mr Altine Daniel, an Assistant Superintendent of Police confirmed that 12 people were killed in the church attack while four other victims injured were receiving treatment. He also confirmed that 14 people died in the two separate attacks that took place in Mubi on Thursday and Friday adding that the police had not identified the culprits, but that he has drafted men to strategic places for stop and search exercise.

Altine appealed to the public to assist the police and other security agencies with necessary information that could led to the arrest of the perpetrators. Meanwhile, Gov. Muritala Nyako, has announced a N25 million reward for any person that could give information to the arrest of the culprits.


 

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