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It was a day of horror and anxiety in the ancient city of Kano as unidentified gunmen yesterday launched a fatal attack on the convoy of the revered Emir of Kano, Alhaji Ado Bayero, ostensibly with a mission to assassinate him.
Several people sustained various degrees of injuries including the eldest son of the Emir, Lamido Ado Bayero, Ciroman Kano and his brother, Nasiru Ado Bayero, Turakin Kano.
Though the royal father narrowly escaped death, the incident claimed the lives of three of his bodyguards and a driver after an impoverished Explosive device (IED) was thrown at the convoy followed by automatic rifle fire.
The attackers, who were driving in a sport utility vehicle (SUV), launched their deadly game at the Emir's convoy along Zoo Road at about 10.30am when the emir was returning from the launch of an Islamic school.
An eyewitness also told LEADERSHIP SUNDAY that the gunmen had ambushed the convoy after the royal father had left the mosque where he had gone for a graduation ceremony of students of the Holy Qur'an.
Palace sources however claimed that the emir was safe and unhurt, adding that he had been moved to an undisclosed location.
The sources further stated that the gunmen came on motorbikes and, on sighting the emir's vehicle, opened fire after which the palace guards returned fired with dane guns.
It was also gathered that the emir's guards had exhibited bravery on sighting the gunmen with their deadly mission and immediately manouvered their way to shield the emir. But in the process, three of them were hit by the bullets of the assailants.
Immediately after the incident, the Joint Task Force, JTF, cordoned off the area while security was beefed up in Kano and its environs.
JTF spokesman in Kano, Capt. Ikedichi Iweha, said he was yet to be briefed on the full details of the attack.
Meanwhile, social and economic life in the ancient city has been disrupted as people are confused, preferring to remain indoors.
According to Alhaji Ashiru Muhammad, "this is the height of indecency. If the emir could be so openly attacked, then, who is safe in Kano?"
A resident of Sabon Gari, Comfort Anocha, said life in Kano would never be the same again even as she contemplated relocating to her home state.
An Igbo traditional chieftain, Chief J C Nmaji, lamented that the development seemed as if we have approached the end times, as nobody could be said to be safe.
He said, "I cannot imagine that the emir has been attacked. It looked like the case of a mistaken identity."
Although no curfew has been declared, Kano has become a shadow of its former self as residents choose to remain indoors.
The emir has been attacked three times: during Sallah festivities at the city's central mosque and the most recent during the 2011 post-election violence results when scores of vehicles were destroyed at his palace.
Our reporter, who was at the scene of the incident shortly after the attack, saw about four vehicles with broken windshields and riddled with bullets . There were pieces of broken glasses on the once busy road of Hausawa which has been deserted.
Another eyewitness also disclosed that before the gunmen could identify the emir in his vehicle, some of his guards had given him a shield, which prompted the gunmen to engage in sporadic shooting.
The witness said, "I saw a young boy of about 14 years old on a motorcycle with an AK- 47 riffle and a chain of bullets around his waist and he was on rampage, shooting on every moving vehicle."
It was gathered that among the convoy was one of the emir's eldest sons, Alhaji Nasiru Ado Bayero (Ciroman Kano), who was said to have received bullet injury.
Among the injured persons who are now receiving treatment at Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital are the chief protocol of the emir, Garba Babban Zagi, chief security officer, Datti Ahmad, Sergeant Muhammad Abdullahi and a passerby Junaidu, and two other persons.
The chief protocol of the emir, Zagi, said he could not believe that he was shot two times on his upper arm, adding that he could hear the other person at the back seat groaning in pains.
He confirmed that five of the emir's protocol and guards were shot dead.
It was also at the hospital that the corpse of the interim management officer of Kumbotso local government area, who was also shot dead while seeing the emir off, was brought to the mortuary under the care of the state delegation.
Kwankwaso confirms attack
Meanwhile, Kano State governor Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso has visited the emir in his palace after the incident and assured the citizens that the emir is in good condition.
Kwankwaso, who spoke with journalists, urged the citizens to continue to pray for the return of peace in the state.
Among those who died were the personal driver of the emir, Dan Mori, and Sarkin Ruwa.
Tambuwal condemns attack
Meanwhile, the speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, has condemned yesterday's attack on Alhaji Ado Bayero by gunmen.
In a statement signed by his special adviser on media and public affairs, Malam Imam Imam, Tambuwal described the attack as callous and inhuman, and, from all indications, meant to shatter the resolve of peace-loving persons in the federation.
The speaker described the emir, one of the most respected traditional rulers in the country, as a man of peace whose words and actions have promoted peaceful coexistence among people of diverse backgrounds in Kano State and beyond.
He said the attack, coming at a time when the security agencies have made considerable gains in their fight against terrorists, especially in the northern part of the country, should be fully investigated and all those involved in the act should be brought to justice.
While condoling with the families of those who lost their lives in the incident, Tambuwal urged all Nigerians to embrace peace and allow peace to reign whereever they may be.
He reiterated the commitment of the House of Representatives to work with other arms of government and all interest groups and persons to find lasting peace in the country.
Attack, Rude, Shocking - ACF
The Northern socio-cultural organization, the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) yesterday condemned the attack on the convoy of the Emir of Kano, Alhaji Ado Bayero by unknown gunmen.
In a statement by its spokesman, Mr. Anthony Sani , the ACF said it received the news of the attack on the Emir's convoy as "a rude shock on the grounds that the Emir, as a custodian of traditional values and culture that inspire peaceful co-existence, harmony and stability, should not reasonably be the target of attacks by any right thinking person or group."
The statement reads in part; "The attacks were, therefore, condemnable because they were uncalled for. Consequently, the ACF condemns the attacks with all sense of seriousness because violence can never address perceived grievances, however strong we feel about them."
This is a very sad day in the history of Kano and Nigeria as a whole. The implication to the socio-economic life of the state is that more people would now be afraid to come to Kano for business. For a state that is the commercial nerve-centre of the North, this is a tragedy of monumental proportion.
Alhaji Sanusi Ata, Kano-based Businessman:
My heart goes to the emir of Kano and all proponents of peace at this very difficult period in our history. Now, government must prevail on the respected emir to have conventional security so that this type of thing does not happen again. May God save Nigeria.