Vanguard (Lagos)

Nigeria: As Boko Haram's Attack Increases, Death Toll Rises

The issue of insecurity in Nigeria has been on the front burner since the last few years especially with the Boko Haram insurgency which has claimed thousands of lives.

Many innocent families and individuals have been wiped out, many others maimed and thousands rendered homeless while schools market, churches, media houses have also received bitter doses of Boko Haram tragic attacks.

Mostly hit were places of worship in Suleja (Niger State), Maiduguri, (Borno state) Madalla (Niger State), Jos (Plateau State), Damaturu (Yobe State), and Gadaka (Yobe State) among others which gave of religious undertones in the whole scenario.

Inspite of government conceited efforts toward nipping the situation in the bud with huge yearly bugetary allocation on security, the Boko Harram terrorist attacks seemed to have defied all logic.

Recently, report and survey put the number of deaths in the last three years of Boko Haram insurgency at 3000. The Human Rights Watch, a global human rights monitoring group, said recently that killings by the dreaded Islamist Boko Haram sect is nearing 1000 people since it launched its initial attack two years.

"The campaign of violence by the militant Islamist group Boko Haram, including attacks on churches and suicide bombings in the first three weeks of 2012 that killed more than 253 people, is an indefensible attack on human life," said Corinne Dufka, HRW's West Africa researcher.

The New York-based rights group said from its deduction from media reports from Nigeria, more than 935 people have been killed in about 164 suspected attacks linking Boko Haram since it launched its campaign of shooting and bomb attacks in July 2009,

"The group, Jama'atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda'awati wal-Jihad, commonly known as Boko Haram, has carried out increasingly deadly attacks, including suicide bombings, which killed at least 550 people in 115 separate attacks in 2011.

In the first three weeks of January 2012 alone, more than 253 people have been killed in 21 separate attacks," the rights group said.

The group said it has also tracked media reports of attacks by suspected Boko Haram members over the past two years, adding that the recent Kano attacks is the deadliest, making 2012 the worst in Nigeria's Boko Haram history.

Human Rights Watch, which noted that the sect has lost all sense of humanity and completely disregard humanity, said: "In the first three weeks of January 2012 alone, more than 253 people have been killed in 21 separate attacks."

"Boko Haram's attacks show a complete and utter disregard for human life," Mr. Dufka said. "The Nigerian authorities need to call a halt to this campaign of terror and bring to justice those responsible for planning and carrying out these reprehensible crimes."

Gunmen killed at least 15 people and wounded many more on Sunday in an attack on a university theatre being used by Christian worshippers in Kano, a northern Nigerian city where hundreds have died in Islamist attacks this year.

Security sources said gunmen arrived on motorbikes and threw small homemade bombs into the theatre before shooting fleeing worshippers. There was sporadic gunfire in other parts of the city later on from attackers driven from the university by the army, the sources said.

"I counted at least 15 dead bodies. I think they were being taken to the Amino Kano teaching hospital," said a witness who did not wish to be identified. He said he saw many more people being treated for injuries.

A security source said at least 15 people were dead and a source at the hospital said by telephone he had seen 10-15 dead bodies brought in with gunshot wounds and dozens more wounded were being treated.

Bayero University spokesman, Mustapha Zahradeen, said two university professors had been killed in the attacks.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility.

Radical Islamist sect Boko Haram, which wants to carve out an Islamic state in northern Nigeria, has killed hundreds in bomb and gun attacks this year. It mainly targets police and authority figures but has also attacked churches.

The army said it had secured the area.

"The attack took place in one of the lecture theatres used as a place of worship by Christians. For sure there are casualties but I can't say how many," said Ikedichi Iweha, an army spokesman.

"The elements came, used explosives and guns to attack them. We have repelled them and cordoned off the area," Iweha said.

Red Cross officials said they were trying to get access and had no details on casualties.

CAN: Lives lost to Boko Haram Attacks

The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) Thursday faulted the number of deaths earlier reported in the series of attack launched by Boko Haram Sect in the country, saying about 1,000 people were killed, while many others injured.

The association also declared that the sectshould be officially declared as a terrorist group.

Rising from the extra-ordinary council meeting of the National Executive Committee (NEC) of CAN in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, the National President of CAN, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, said: "The total number of people killed by the sect members is far more than it is reported in the media.

"According to the pictures presented at the meeting, the March figure of 300 deaths went up to about 500 in April and by yesterday (Wednesday) May 23, the figure has hit over 1000 with more number of injured Christians.

"Report says over 20, 000 Christians have fled Maiduguri to neighbouring states and countries like Niger, Chad and Cameroun and no fewer than 30 Churches have been closed in Maiduguri, even as the sect members have changed tactics to house-to-house search for those to strangulate and slaughter," he disclosed.

Speaking further, CAN stated that: "The National Executive Council of CAN believes that both government and security agencies need to do more in order to contain these senseless and mindless killings and that government should seriously consider the Boko Haram sect as a terrorist group."

The CAN president said another tactics now adopted by the sect since they have discovered that shooting people by gun attracts the attention of the Joint Task Force (JTF), they now jump people fences and slaughter people using knives and silent weapons stressing that most of these things are not reported.

He insisted that the Federal Government should ignore pressure and let the world know officially that Boko Haram sect is a terrorist group. "If they are terrorists, they should be declared terrorist. We know they are terrorist, so let stop beating around the bush, let hit the nail on the head, it is a fact we know this to be true," he said.

"Sometime the impression given is that there is war, there is no war, and we are not armed. It is a one sided thing, it is a group of people killing a group of people that is what we are experiencing in the country.

"We are not saying there are no wonderful God fearing, law abiding Muslims. They are good Muslims who love Nigeria, who believe that we should co-exist as neighbour, co-partner and believe in one Nigeria," Oritsejafor stated.

On the recent comment allegedly credited to the National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, that Boko Haram was fighting injustice in the country, the CAN president said such a statement was frightening and a threat to the existence of the nation.

"I am surprise none of you Journalist has picked him up to explain to Nigeria whose justice he is talking about, because in a sense he is a spokesman for Boko Haram. The Chairman of PDP, the largest party in Africa, he is a spokesman for Boko Haram.

"What justice is Bamanga Tukur talking about, 1000 of people who have been killed so far in Maiduguri, Yobe, Adamawa, Taraba, Kaduna, Jos, Kano, who is showing the family of those killed justice.

"Look at the new trend now called the Fulani herb men. Hundred are dying. Who taught the herdsmen how to shoot AK 47, who bought the guns for them, they are invading farms killing and rapping women 77 people have died so far.

"What justice is Bamanga Tukur talking about, went university, church are burning, it is a pity that a man like him will be saying that. But I still challenged you Journalists, it is a challenge that I am throwing it at you, please go to him and ask; let him explain what injustice he means" he declared.

On Corruption, the NEC of CAN noted that government's management of the fight against corruption was still cosmetic noting that virtually all sectors of the nation's economy were riddled with cases of corruption.

Government, the body said, should not behave like a man who stepped into a pitch dark room, straining his eyes to catch a reflection of the smile on his face in a mirror. "It should switch on the light in the room or step out into the light."

Oritsejafor argued that it was greed that is behind corruption in the country as it was not true that those who are involved in huge corruption hiding billions of naira in their homes lack money.

"We are saying they are visible corruption cases that are so visible that if affects day to day life of people for example the subsidy situation, pension scam and capital market crisis," he said.

According to him, the Boko Harma also thrives because of corruption as people are being paid off to look the other way while members of the sect continue to do what the country is experiencing now.

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