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The Kano Massacre

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Boko Haram, the terrorist Islamic sect, takes its killing machine to Kano and kills more than 200 in two days

Joshua Jegede, 25, staff of Guaranty Trust Bank, GTB, main branch along Murtala Mohammed Way, had in December, 2011, got married and looked forward to a fruitful married life.  But the expectation was cut short on Friday, December 20, 2011,as Jegede was killed with three other friends near the SSS Quarters on their way home in Badawa Layout, Kano .They ran into members of the Boko Haram sect.

An eye witness told Newswatch that the deceased had closed from work earlier that day and was heading home only to run into members of Boko Haram who had blocked the road.  The source said Jegede and his friends were ordered out of their car and were shot at a close range by members of the sect.

In another part of Kano on same day, Segun Tijani, a 20- year -old school boy in Sabon Gari, Kano, had closed from school and was attending evening classes.  But upon hearing the news about the outbreak of violence, he cut short his evening classes and was running back home to his parents for safety.  He never succeeded in doing so. He was shot dead. Taye Bankole, an uncle of the deceased told Newswatch that the body of Tijani was discovered a day after with gun wounds on his body.

Hundreds of people were killed in similar circumstances in Kano as the city practically became a war zone from the evening of Friday, January  20, 2011, to the day after as multiple bomb blasts rocked different parts of the metropolis. Enenche Akogwu, a reporter with Channels Television in the city was also killed. Many other residents were injured. The government put the casualty figures at 185.  But a source told Newswatch that more than 200 people were killed.

Governor Rabi’u Kwankwaso while reviewing the incident during a meeting with critical stakeholders on Tuesday, January 24, 2012, in Kano, said 10 places were attacked.  These include police zonal Headquarters along BUK Road, Farm Centre and Zaria Road (Yar Akwa)  Police Division. Other places attacked were Immigration office at Farm Centre, SSS headquarters at Giginyu, official residence of the AIG Zone 1, St. Luis Catholic Secondary School which shares premises with the AIG’s house, the Police Command Headquarters at Bompai and the Police Barracks also at Bompai. “In all these attacks, a total of 185 people lost their lives out of which 150 are civilians, 29 policemen, three SSS officers, two Immigration officers, one Customs officer and one reporter working with Channels TV.  Also, many people sustained various degrees of injuries.” Kwankwaso said.

Umar Jibril, Kano State commissioner for information told  Newswatch that  up to eight explosives went off in deferent parts of the town on Friday, January 20, 2011,  one after the other.  This was the handiwork of the Boko Haram Islamic fundamentalist sect.

He said their main targets were  the State Security Service, SSS, office  at Sardauna Crescent, Zone 1 headquarters of the police, the State Police Command at Bompai; the Fegge Farm Centre, Naibawa, and Jedijedi Police stations as well as a motor park on New Road, Sabon Gari, and the Immigration office at Farm Centre.

The attack on the Zone 1 office was carried out by a suicide bomber who crashed into a nearby compound in his explosive-laden car destroying the official residence of the Assistant Inspector General of Police in Kano and the surrounding building within the vicinity.  The blast at the Police Zonal office tore away the building’s roof and blew out the windows. Several occupants of the building including the Aide de Camp, ADC,  to the AIG were killed. The Kano residence of Abubakar Tsav, former police commissioner, also in the vicinity was destroyed.

The invaders were not so lucky in their mission at SSS office and the Customs Training School as operatives of these agencies engaged them in a gun battle, killing several of them.  Some officials of these agencies were killed too.

A police officer who asked not to be named told Newswatch that a preliminary report indicated that the suicide bomber in a Honda Civic Car, a fairly used vehicle, had crashed into the gates of a vocational training centre which is not far from the office of the Assistant Inspector-General of police in the zone.”I think their target was the Zonal AIG’s office but they could not breakthrough the water-tight security.  The impact of the suicide bombing, however, affected many structures within the complex. The Zone 1 Police Station was completely burnt. Many residential houses were razed too. The AIG’s residence is said to be within the complex,” the officer said.

He said while security agencies were grappling with the situation at the zonal headquarters, simultaneous explosions were recorded in many places in the city.

The multiple attacks sparked commotion across the city with panic-stricken motorists, motorcyclists and pedestrians scampering for their lives.  The assailants, he said, were mainly teenagers who launched their commando style invasion. They rode on motorcycles.

Another eyewitness at  the Ungwa-Uku Police Station told Newswatch that  it was war between the police and the attackers, making people lose their senses to run and drive in all directions for safety. He lamented the high casualty rate resulting from the Boko Haram insurgence. The governor had imposed a 24 hour curfew in the state capital and its environs.  The curfew was, however, relaxed two days after.  It is now from dusk to dawn.

Newswatch learnt that a month ago, precisely Saturday, December 17, 2011, Boko Haram had threatened to launch attacks on Kano if the security services continued to arrest its members. Abubakar Shekau , sect leader, claimed in a letter sent to the state government and the media that many  Boko Haram members had been arrested in the past five months on the pretext that they were thieves and armed robbers. “We are, therefore, compelled to write this letter to inform Kano residents of this development so that when we launch attacks in the city as we have been doing in Maiduguri, they should not blame us,” Shekau said in a letter emailed from an address previously used by the sect.

Tobias Idika, president, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Kano State Chapter and president general, leaders of Ethnic Communities Resident in Kano State,  described the attacks as conceived and planned Jihad against non natives in Kano, particularly, the Igbo race.  According to him, the Ohanaeze has reports which indicate that there is a serious plot by the Islamic terrorist group to invade Sabon Gari, an area where most Igbo in Kano and the Christian community live. “We are also aware that this Islamic group serving the interest of some Islamic clerics, Northern traditional rulers and ruthless politicians, have a big plan to bomb churches, public places, hotels and selected private homes within Sabon Gari, Kano, “ Idika said.

But Jibril dismissed Idika’s claim saying, nobody, including the Igbo is  the main target. Using this as the platform for fanning embers of disunity is the most unfair thing anybody can ever do in this circumstance.  “The targets of attack are the security agents, policemen and other security personnel.  I don’t know if there are more Igbo people in the police, SSS, Immigration Service etc in Kano than there are other people from other ethnic groups.  Secondly, the locations where the attacks were carried out is also an area of concern.  These are at areas where office of security agents are located.  Thirdly and most importantly, other credible Igbo leaders are commiserating with those who have lost their loved ones as we are doing. 

Bishop Ransom Bello, chairman, Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, Kano State chapter, told Newswatch that the attack in Kano was not a religious issue. “There is no doubt that the perpetrators of this dastardly act are extremist in Islamic religion.  Their foundation is Islam.  We cannot deny that fact.  But from their activities so far, they killed both Christians and Muslims.  Any person who stood  in their way they killed.  They killed policemen, government officials etc.  So, I think we should look at this issue holistically.  I think it’s just not religious problem, though that could be the foundation,” Bello said.

President Goodluck Jonathan  had during his visit to condole the government and people of Kano on Sunday, January 22, 2012, vowed to wipe out Boko Haram. He said the federal government would not rest on its oars until the menace of the group is exterminated. The president spoke at the palace of the Emir, Ado Bayero.  According to him, Kano has been peaceful, but the insurgence of the Boko Haram has caused fear among its residents.

“The people doing this are not spirits. They are among us. I seek the co-operation of all towards getting those involved in the havoc arrested. I assure Nigerians that the government will intensify its security in Kano and all over the country to unravel the mystery behind this act.”

Boko Haram, has significantly expanded its terror targets in recent months, In December 2011, an unnamed Islamist issued a threat letter to bomb places of worship and merriment in Jos Plateau State before December 26. The letter reads: “We, the entire Muslim of Plateau State, will never give up until we have our rights, we will use your boys to destroy you. Nothing can stop us from bombing these areas before December 26, 2011.” The letter was signed by one Idris Musa.

On Christmas day, they struck some Churches around Jos, Plateau State! Similar threats were issued to the Yobe State governor warning before the state capital Damaturu was attacked last November.  A scheduled attack on Damaturu and Potiskum on Friday, November 4, was one of the deadliest attacks carried out by Boko Haram before the January 20, 2012 invasion of Kano. The deadly strike in Damaturu claimed more than 150 lives and rendered thousands of people homeless. Churches, public buildings, commercial houses, and other properties worth millions of naira were also destroyed.

It was learnt that before the Damaturu attack, Ibrahim Geidam, governor of Yobe State, who was in Saudi Arabia for last year’s Hajj, was sent a warning letter by the terrorists, notifying him of the attack. But Geidam ignored the warning.

A week before the Kano episode, Nigeria’s defence minister told Nigerians that Boko Haram has been pinned and contained to the North-Eastern States, preparatory to a final assault to finish them. The events of Kano, has clearly shown that the terrorist movement is not only getting more sophisticated and daring, but is, in fact growing in scope and fire power.


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