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The Kano Massacre

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Survivors of the April 29, 2012, attack on Christian worshippers at the Bayero University, Kano, by suspected Boko Haram sect members narrate their experiences

When Jerome Taula Ayodele, a professor of chemistry, at the Bayero University, Kano, left his house for church service in the early morning of Sunday, April 29, 2012, at the Theatre Three of the old campus of the university, he never knew that death was lurking around the corner waiting for him. He did not return home alive. Tragedy struck soon after the commencement of the church service. Bombers suspected to be members of Boko Haram, the Islamic fundamentalist sect, struck at the venue of the church service. The distinguished academic from Ilorin, Kwara State, who was employed as a lecturer in the university in 1979, was unlucky to be one of those killed by the bomb blast that rocked the worship centre. The blast which claimed about 23 lives and left 29 others seriously injured occurred at about 8 o’clock in the morning on that fateful day.  The bomb blast also claimed the life of Andrew Leo Ogbonyomi, another professor in the department of library science of the institution. He hailed from Kogi State.

Apart from the two professors, the April 29 attack also claimed the lives of some senior lecturers of the school and students. A day after the attack on the old campus, members of the sect also attempted bombing the Sociology department located inside the new campus when a suspected bomber beat the security men at the gate and dropped a bag containing some explosives at the corridor leading to the building. An eye witness said it took the alertness of one of the lecturers in the department to foil the attempt. He saw the bag and alerted the anti- bomb unit of the police. 

Abubakar Rasheed, vice chancellor of the university who was away in Malaysia when the two incidents occurred, had to cut short his trip to rush back to Nigeria when he heard of the attack in his institution.

Narrating how he managed to escape from the attack, Bamidele Adepoju, a PhD holder and a senior lecturer in the department of Business Administration, said a prayer session was going on at the time when gun shots were heard.  “I was a little late to the church on that day.

It was in the middle of the service that the sect members who stormed the school premises on motor cycles swooped on them and started shooting them after throwing some improvised explosive devices on the worshippers.

He said as the members of the sect were shooting them, the worshippers fled in different directions. “I had to flee, I fell three times and I had to skip the fence,” he said.

Adepoju, who said he has been a lecturer in the school since 1977, described his survival as a miracle.  “God saw me and others through. There is a senior colleague of mine and some other students who managed to escape to a place where we hid under the stair case. We were hiding there for quite sometime until somebody in that building eventually came out and said he was looking for us that he wanted us to come to his flat. So, we went there and stayed there until the dust settled. A colleague later came to pick us from that place. By the time he picked us, there was heavy military presence on the campus.”

Bola, widow of the late professor Ayodele who was in tears as she narrated how her husband died from the bomb attack, said her late husband was full of life on that Sunday, not knowing the evil that was to befall him. She said that she left her husband at home after serving him breakfast and never saw him again at the church until after the attack.  But what she saw was her husband’s corpse (see box)

Oluwatosin Adetola, a business development consultant and the eldest son of the deceased who spoke to Newswatch from his base in Chicago in the United States, expressed shock over the demise of his father. He described the security system in the country as very porous and wants government to address it. “Why do we have security in Nigeria and people are being killed and government is folding its arms. Nigeria is a failed state,” he said.

Caroline Ogbonyomi, first child of the late professor of Library studies, said the killers of her father were heartless to have taken the life of a man who served the North and the entire country meritoriously. I feel bad over what happened and the way they took his life. She appealed to the federal government to bring her father’s killers to book.

Mustapha Zahradeen, Head, public relations and protocol of the university, described as untrue the insinuation that management was alerted by the SSS or any other security agencies about the plan by the Boko Haram to attack Christian worshippers and it  refused to act on it. “If there was a planned attack and the SSS got the wind of it, why didn’t they adopt measures to protect the lives and properties in the school which is their primary responsibility? There was never a time the school management was alerted by any security agency of the plan by the Boko Haram to either bomb BUK or attack Christian worshippers, “ he said.


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