Daily Trust (Abuja)

20 November 2012

Nigeria: As Kano Mourns Slain Lawmaker

Kano — Hundreds of dignitaries continue to troop to Garko Local Government Area of Kano State to condole families and relations of a member of the state House of Assembly, who was killed Saturday night by gunmen in Kano city.

The remains of Honourable Ibrahim Abba Garko was laid to rest on Sunday morning at Garko cemetery, a day after his gruesome murder by armed men at 'Yankatako in Unguwa Uku quarters.

Hundreds of sympathizers attended the Saturday funeral prayers at the home of the deceased in Garko. Among the important personalities in attendance, were Kano State deputy governor, Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, former Governor Ibrahim Shekarau, members of state and national assemblies, among others.

Yesterday, members of the state assembly led by the Speaker, Honourable Gambo Sallau, also paid a condolence visit to the deceased's family. A family source told Daily Trust that the state governor, Engineer Rabi'u Musa Kwankwaso, was also being expected there yesterday.

Late Garko was shot dead by two gunmen riding on a motorcycle. They stroke while the lawmaker was chatting with friends.

Witnesses said he was shot in the head, chest and shoulder, following which he was rushed to a hospital where he died shortly after. Two other friends of his were wounded in the attack.

Explaining the incident, younger brother of the deceased, Muhammad Ibrahim Garko, told Daily Trust on phone yesterday that the gunmen also fired several shots at his brother's vehicle, damaging its screens.

Late Garko was killed at the age of 60, according to Ibrahim, who added that the late member who was representing Garko Constituency had left behind a wife and six children.

The legislator was first elected into the state House of Assembly in 2007 on the platform of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP). After serving his first term, he defected to Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and won a re-election in 2011.

No group has yet taken responsibility for the killing. However, the Boko Haram sect, which has been carrying out attacks in the state and parts of the North, had threatened to target government officials and their families in the region. Garko became the first senior state government official to be targeted by gunmen in the state.

Daily Trust learnt that the lawmaker had escaped similar assassination attempt before the Ramadan fast, when some gunmen opened fire at his car at the same spot where he was killed on Saturday. He reportedly managed to drive out of the area without being harmed.

Fearing for his safety, Garko stopped visiting the area, his relation told our correspondent. But after performing this year's hajj and attending the zonal public hearing on constitutional amendment at Sokoto, the lawmaker broke his self-imposed restriction and paid a visit to Unguwa Uku which was to be his last.

While chatting with friends, his assailants trailed him to the area and fired the fatal shots that left him dead.

On June 5, 2012, retired DIG Ningi was killed by members of the Boko Haram sect at Dakata area of the state. This was in addition to dozens of other attacks on security personnel as well as on members of the general public.

The attack on the lawmaker came less than a week after gunmen had killed a school teacher at Shagari quarters area of the city and took away his motorcycle. The teacher was said to have been killed near a private school where he was employed.

Residents said he was the fourth person to be killed in such a manner in the area since the beginning of Boko Haram insurgency in the state on January 20.

Similarly, Daily Trust gathered that a trader was gunned down on Saturday night, minutes after the attack on Garko by two men on a motorbike at Hotoron Walawai quarters. Witnesses said he was shot dead at his medicine store around 8pm.

The attacks have raised fears of possible return to the days of indiscriminate killings by gunmen in the state, and with the killing of a serving lawmaker, government officials were beginning to be concerned about their safety.

Weeks back, there had been lull in attacks by armed men on either individuals or security personnel, which gave some hope that the violence ravaging Kano city since January was coming to an end.

Attempts to speak to the spokesman of the Kano State Police Command ASP Musa Magaji Majia on the attacks were not successful as calls to his mobile phone were answered by someone who said the officer was ill.

Meanwhile, the spokesperson of the Joint Task Force (JTF) in Kano, Captain Ikedichi Iweha, had dismissed insinuations that the killing of the legislator was the beginning of Boko Haram's enforcement of its earlier threats.

The task force official described the killing as an 'accident' that could have happened to anybody, "because the terrorists don't have respect for human life."

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