Military and police authorities yesterday scaled up security measures across the federation to ensure safety of life and property during the Yuletide. State and local governments also announced measures to ensure that there are no security breaches during the Christmas on Tuesday and the New Year celebrations on January 1, 2012.
To ensure that there are enough men and officers on duty in their respective commands, the military cancelled holidays for its personnel. They also deployed their officials and armoured vehicles to areas tagged black points while check points, were introduced in some states to complement the efforts of the search and rescue team of the police.
In Niger State, the Suleja Local Government Area after an emergency security meeting banned vehicular movement in the council during the Christmas celebration.
Amid this tight security network in the country, some suicide bombers yesterday struck in Kano where they destroyed some telecommunications offices. There was also an explosion at an abandoned textile factory in Kaduna State.
The military, which cited insecurity of life and property, the terrorism menace led by the Boko Haram sect, placed an embargo on holidays for top officers and commanders of the Joint Task Force (JTF) in volatile states.
LEADERSHIP SUNDAY learnt that the order was given by the Chief of Defence Staff, Admiral Ola Sa'ad Ibrahim.
A top officer at the Defence Headquarters told our correspondent that "you are aware of the suicide bombing that killed several people including children worshippers at a church in Suleja, Niger State during last Yuletide season and in order to prevent a recurrence, the Chief of Defence Staff has ordered all of us and all the JTF commanders to stay at our posts. There is no holiday for us. He (Admiral Ibrahim) said he would not take any excuse for any breakdown of law and order in any part of the country."
According to the officer, all annual leave roasters of officers and men have been cancelled and duty roasters for the officers drawn for every department to ensure "nothing is taken for granted. The CDS has seriously warned us that whoever failed in discharging his responsibility would be severely dealt with. So, we are all on duty courtesy of the CDS and that should tell you how he is handling the issue of security of life and property under his watch."
He said the JTF is present in 34 states of the federation and appealed to the populace to be law abiding and report any suspicious movements to the appropriate quarters.
"There are JTF in virtually all the states to guarantee the security of our people and their property, but the same people we are protecting are expected to assist us in giving out information of those hoodlums in their midst. They should report any suspicious movement to the nearest security agency. If those unscrupulous people strike it is those that are shielding them that would first be the victims of their attacks."
The spokesman of the Army Public Relations, Maj-Gen. Bolaji Koleosho, assured Nigerians and foreigners of adequate security during the festive season.
In Kano State, two suicide car bombers attacked the offices of Airtel and MTN and died in the attack. It was learnt that there was no civilian casualty.
The state Commissioner of Police, Mr. Ibrahim Idris, said: "There has been a bomb blast at Airtel office. From what we hear, it was a suicide attack. The bomber rammed his car into the gate and died. The building is on fire."
He said the suicide bomber who struck at Airtel's office was first shot by soldiers before the bomb exploded. At the MTN office the bomber allegedly rammed his car into the fence. Idris said no civilians died from the attack.
The explosion in Kaduna occurred at Arewa Textiles. The factory is close to Kalapanzin Barracks in Kakuri in Kaduna South Local Government Area. There were conflicting reports about the cause of the explosion which led to heavy fire outbreak. The fire affected the printing and chemical department of the factory.
While some eyewitnesses linked the fire outbreak to an explosion, others said it was caused by a labourer who was hired to clear the grasses in the factory.
It was learnt that no life was lost in the incident.
When contacted, the spokesman of the Kaduna State Police Command, DSP Aminu Lawan, confirmed the incident, saying "it was a fire outbreak, no life was lost and nobody sustained injury. But two people have been arrested in connection with the incident.
In view of the Christmas Day bomb blast in Suleja last year, the Niger State Police Command said it has deployed more anti- bomb and terrorism squads in the area. The state government has restricted vehicular movement in the town tomorrow and on Christmas Day.
The command's Police Public Relations Officer, Pius Edobo, told LEADERSHIP SUNDAY yesterday in Minna that Suleja has remained a major challenge to the command.
He said based on the challenges usually faced in Suleja more men of the command were mobilised to the area to forestall any security breach during the Yuletide.
"He said the Commissioner of Police, Desireee Nsirim held a special meeting with the Divisional Police Officers (DPOs) during the week to give them a clear mandate of ensuring that the state is secured for peaceful celebrations.
Meanwhile, Suleja Local Government Area had after its monthly security meeting announced a ban on vehicular movement between 8:30 pm tomorrow and 2 pm on the Christmas Day.
According to a statement signed by the council's Head of Information, Mallam Jibril Bissallah, the ban would also be in place on December 31, 2012 and January 1, 2013..
On Tuesday, December 25, 2012, will be the first anniversary of the Christmas Day suicide bombing of St. Theresa Catholic Church, Madalla, Niger State, where scores of worshippers, especially children were killed and several others injured.
In the usual Nigerian officials' response to such incidents, some top federal and state functionaries visited the scene and the survivors and made mouth-watering promises to both the families of the deceased and the injured. But one year has almost passed and the victims are still waiting for the promises made by the Federal Government.
When LEADERSHIP SUNDAY visited the church and some of the survivors, they lamented that they were yet to get any assistance from the Federal Government. They named some government officials who are yet to fulfill their promised palliatives to them as the Minister of Interior, Comrade Abba Moro and the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi.
According to them, Abba Moro promised that the Federal Government would offer scholarships to the children who lost their parents, while Sanusi pledged N25 million for the victims when he visited the church.
Sir Obiukwu Emmanuel, who lost four children in the attack, said he had not received any assistance from the Federal Government. He also said the Anambra State Governor Peter Obi, who promised to offer scholarship to his only surviving daughter, was yet to do so.
Also, Mrs. Dike Williams, who lost her husband and three children in the blast, said she has not received any support from the government. Her two surviving children, Chimobi and Favour Dike were injured in the bombing. Chimobi, the son has a nail on his head and suffers from ulcer, while Favour has severe burn on her leg. "We still go for medical check-up at the National Hospital and I am the one footing the bill," she said.
The Parish Priest, Rev. Fr. Isaac Achi, said: "They (government officials) made promises, but we have not seen anything from most of them.
Like the scholarships for orphans, which the Minister of Interior promised, nothing has been done. You know when something happen, people will say all manner of things."
Achi continued: "The CBN under Governor Sanusi, we have not seen anything from the apex bank. He made the pledge here through the Bishop. Yesterday (Thursday) at 9pm I spoke with the Bishop, if he had redeemed that pledge before that time, I know the Bishop would have used the opportunity to tell me. He made a pledge of N25 million."
Boko Haram Claims Responsibility Over Kano Attack
Meanwhile, the Hausa service of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) last night reported that the Boko Haram sect has claimed responsibility for the Kano attack.
Bayo Oladeji, Abu Nmodu, Michael Oche, Chika Otuchikere, Chibunma Ukwu, and Midat Joseph