Photo: Olu Ajayi/Vanguard
Five policemen were among 10 persons killed in Maiduguri yesterday when two vehicles driven by suicide bombers rammed into a police patrol vehicle.
The latest attack on Maiduguri, the Borno State capital and epicentre of the Boko Haram insurgency, coincided with a protest led my Muslim women to the National Assembly over the mindless killing of Nigerians by the terrorists.
Those who lost their lives in the incident, which occurred at about 9 am, included five policemen, three civilians and the two suicide bombers who drove two Volkswagen Golf cars that rammed simultaneously into the police Toyota Hilux patrol van.
It was also learnt that many other persons were left with severe injuries from the incident that shook the entire town and resulted in security checks being established in other parts of the town.
It was gathered that after the incident, which happened on the outskirts of Maiduguri, near Dalori Housing Estate, soldiers of the 7 Division of the Nigerian Army, with a combined team of riot policemen and the youth vigilante group, popularly called Civilian JTF, swung into action combing the area for other attackers who were believed to be at large.
The scene of the blast was cordoned off in order to prevent further attacks and vehicles moving to and from the area were thoroughly searched.
The state police Public Relations Officer, Deputy Superintendent of Police Gideon Jubrin, who confirmed the incident to journalists on the phone, revealed that the five policemen who lost their lives in the attack were attached to the Federal Highway Patrol team. He also revealed that three civilians, and the two suicide bombers died on the spot.
A member of the Civilian JTF, Ibrahim Haruna, who also spoke to journalists, revealed that he saw the mangled bodies of the police officers immediately after the explosion.
He said the incident happened “around 9 am when we heard a loud bang and we mobilised to the scene where we discovered that it was a suicide bomb attack on a police patrol vehicle. I saw five bodies of policemen scattered all over the place”.
When the scene of the attack was visited by THISDAY yesterday afternoon, a burnt Volkswagen car believed to be used by the suicide bombers was seen with the two corpses of the suicide bombers.
In a reaction to the incessant attacks on communities and towns in the North-east, Muslim women under the aegis of Federation of Muslim Women’s Association in Nigeria (FOMWAN) yesterday stormed the National Assembly to protest mindless killings of Nigerians by members of Boko Haram.
The group, led by Hajia Hadijat Suleiman, said as mothers, their hearts bleed for the unabating bloodshed of innocent Nigerians and asked the government to take a decisive step against the menace.
Suleiman said they came with “bleeding hearts of Nigerian women, the agonising pain and feeling of despair which the woman folks have been made to face in recent times,” adding, “FOWMAN mourns with the rest of humanity over the inhuman destruction of the creations of Allah and the wanton bloodshed of innocent citizens in this country.
“We view with sadness, trepidation and a deep concern the continuous escalation of violent attacks on innocent lives and property in multiple locations.
“We are mothers, wives, we are nurturers of life, nurturers of families, we are builders and sustainers of nations, we are not destroyers, these killing of our children, our men and indeed women must stop.
“We urged the National Assembly to make a loud and resounding statement and stand up to be counted for the benefit of posterity. Government should explore all avenues to determine the source and sustainers of this phenomenon. It is a crime against humanity,” the group said.
Suleiman also pleaded with the appropriate government agencies to provide relief materials to all people affected by this violence.
In his response, Senate President David Mark reiterated the resolve of the federal government towards ending insurgency in the country, insisting that capital punishment was the antidote to the menace.
Mark flayed the killings under the guise of religion, saying they are totally unacceptable. “My faith does not accept capital punishment, but as an individual I believe that if you kill, you should be killed as well,” Mark said.
Further, he said: “We are as pained as you are; I think there is no one who is not feeling the pain. In those days, you could travel anytime. Anywhere and any village you went to, you were always welcomed and secure.
“But today, the reverse is the case. We must rise up and collectively condemn this dastardly act in our society.” The senate president, who commended the military for their efforts so far, was quick to remind Nigerians on the need to be watchful and support the government in the quest to end the insurgency.
Mark also stressed the need to win the hearts of all and sundry in the struggle to curb all forms of insecurity, noting, “Besides insurgency, kidnapping and armed robbery go on in other parts of the country.”
He assured the protesters of the National Assembly’s continued efforts to restore peace to the nation, saying there is no day during the plenary when issues of the peaceful co-existence of citizens are not given prominence.
He thanked FOWMAN for taking the bold step to speak out and condemn insurgency and insecurity across the nation saying, “Truth must be told and the earlier you say it the better.”
In another development, northern governors under the aegis of the Northern States Governors’ Forum yesterday insisted on lifting the veil of the culprits and sponsors of Boko Haram and other insurgencies in other places.
Rising from a two-hour meeting, the governors further demanded that all member states of the forum must establish a security trust fund in their various states.
Reading the communique after the meeting, the chairman of the forum and Niger State governor, Mu’azu Babangida-Aliyu, said: “The crime rate and general insecurity in the region, in particular and the country in general, have become a growing concern, ranging from mayhem being perpetrated by insurgents characterised by sporadic killings to attacks on schools.
“After exhaustive deliberations, the forum agreed on the following actions: The need to identify the culprits and sponsors of the Boko Haram insurgents and other insurgencies in other places.
“That all members states should establish a security trust fund; and member states should articulate a coordinated approach towards fighting insurgency in the north.”
Declaring its support for the ongoing National Conference, the forum noted that the conference was intended to provide a more inclusive and focused forum for candid discussions on the daunting challenges confronting the nation and its citizens, such as security, observance of the rule of law and corruption, amongst others.
“Therefore the forum came up with a common agenda that will put the northern delegates in a common position to tackle the interest and aspirations of the north and the nation at large,” it said.
Also commenting on their recent symposium at the United States Institute of Peace held in Washington DC, USA, recently, the forum said that it provided for a strong platform for meaningful discussions and it also enhanced corporation that would elaborately address insecurity, social, economic and governance issues peculiar to states in the northern region.
The communiqué further said the symposium, attended by 12 out of the 19 northern governors, was also held to convey the support of high level US, Norwegian and the Danish governments “through their officials alongside other invited participants to achieve the desired objectives, and articulated a common position on how to attract support and address issues of common concerns to the northern states.”
The forum further disclosed that a committee had been set up to consolidate on the gains of the symposium. Members of the committee include the secretaries to the state governments (SSGs) of Niger, Zamfara, Borno and Kogi States.
The committee also includes the Commissioners for Information in Niger State and a representative of the Nigerian embassy in the United States.
The governors who attended the meeting included those of Adamawa, Niger, Kaduna, Zamfara, Kwara, Kano, Borno (deputy), Kogi, Jigawa (deputy), Taraba (acting governor), Katsina (deputy), Kebbi (deputy). The Sokoto and Plateau governors were represented by their SSGs.