Tuesday, July 07, 2015

TRAGIC: 51 Boko Haram blast victims buried in Jos

No fewer than 100 people are feared killed in the Sunday night twin explosions in Jos, the Plateau State capital.

The state government put the death toll at 44 and 48 injured. But the magnitude of the blast and the burials that took place yesterday showed that the death toll was higher.

No fewer than 51, mostly Muslims, were buried yesterday, according to Muslim community lawyer Ahmed Garba.

Sixty-seven people were injured, stated Abdussalam Mohammed, the coordinator of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA)

The explosion at the Yantaya Mosque came as cleric Sani Yahaya was addressing the worshippers, survivors said. Yahaya is the national chairman of the Jama’atu Izalatul Bidia organisation, which preaches that all religions should peacefully coexist.

Garba said the gunmen also opened fire on the mosque from three directions.

Survivor Danladi Sani said he saw a man dressed in white take aim at Yahaya, and then blow himself up. Yahaya was unhurt, Sani added.

“He is a great Islamic scholar who has spoken out against Boko Haram, and that is why we believe he was the target,” Sani told The Associated Press.

Another bomb exploded at Shagalinku, a restaurant often patronized by top politicians for its specialties popular with Muslims, witnesses said.

Sabi’u Bako was picking up a takeout meal when he heard a massive explosion as he walked away with friends.

“The restaurant was destroyed, and we saw many people covered in blood,” he said. “We can’t believe that we escaped.”

The blast was the second of such in the Plateau State capital after the one that occurred on May 20, 2014.

The attack in Dilimi market is the second of its type, the first in 2013 left over 50 traders dead. The second of the attack was the one targeted at Muslim worshippers.

The explosions which were detonated within ten minutes interval happened at about 9pm. The first bomb went off at a Mosque in Yan Taya (Tire Market) section of Dilimi Street, Jos North Local Government of Plateau State. The number of deaths in the mosque attack could be as high as 100, according to survivors.

Another eye witness Yahaya Musa said: “We were listening to the Islamic sermon been delivered by Sheikh Sani Yahaya Jingre, whose preaching attracts no fewer than 300 worshippers.

“The sermons was almost over and the Sheikh was about to say the closing prayers, then all of a sudden, we heard gun shots in a sporadic manner from some gunmen. We rushed out of the Mosque to discover that we were under attack; the next was to think of escape. Initially, we all lay down, but after a while when the gunmen were coming too close we decided to get up and run as fast as we could. I’m even surprised that I escaped, so many of my friends could not escape.”

A member of First Aid Group, Zekeri Mahmud, said: “What happened was the gunmen came in a Hilux van, we had mounted serious security to check whoever that is coming for the sermon. But these gunmen came in a Hilux Van and stopped by the road side, three people came out of the car and opened fire on the security guard to dismantle the security at the entrance, then they headed straight for the mosque, shooting at worshippers. Some security guards decided to confront them, worshippers decided to rush them not knowing the gunmen carried explosives which they threw at the crowd.”

The second attack at the restaurant close to Bauchi Road Motor Park near main campus of University of Jos was said to have claimed about 20 lives, including guests who came to patronise the restaurant and the young girls serving their customers. Three of the restaurant attendants were among the dead at the morgue of the Plateau State Specialists Hospital.

A lucky man who left the restaurant two minutes before the explosion said, “There were up to 20 people in the restaurant that have already been served and were already eating, more than ten people were waiting to be served their food, so I left in annoyance to find an alternative place to eat. But as soon as I stepped out, I heard a very heavy blast, the impact of the blast threw me on the ground because I was very close, and when I recovered from the shock, I realized that only one person survived from the people that were inside. I could not believe when I saw the same people taking their food few minutes ago laid dead in the pool of their own blood, I thought I was watching a horror movie, but it is so real”

Residents yesterday rushed to the various hospitals in the city to identify their own. Some of the bodies were identified by the survivors and were taken to the Jos Central Mosque to be buried at dawn. Majority of other bodies that could not be immediately identified were taken to nearby hospitals. Before dawn almost all the known hospital in the city were filled with victims either dead or injured.

There was panic as people ran between Plateau Specialists Hospital and Jos University Teaching Hospital (JUTH). Others ran to Bingham University Teaching Hospital (JUTH) and Our Lady of Apostle Hospital.

The state chapter of the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) appealed to its members to assist in saving lives. State secretary Dr Menshak Daniel said: “In view of what has happened, the situation has overwhelmed the capacity of the hospital, the association is appealing to all its members to assemble in Plateau Specialists Hospital, BUTH, JUTH, OLA hospital immediately to help save lives, there are so many injured patients requiring urgent attention, many people are in pain, some need to get the bullet removed from their bodies, all require one medical service or the other to survive”

The NEMA zonal coordinator said: “We were part of the team that helped to evacuate victims from the scene of attack, we came there about 10pm immediately after the blast and at about 3am we had evacuated 43 bodies from the scenes, with over 40 injured to the hospital.

“But many bodies were not brought to the hospitals, some of them that were identified by their relations took them to the Central Mosque for burial”

State director of the First Aid Group known as FITYANUL ISLAM, an Arabic word for (Young Muslim Congress) Alhaji Abdullahi Dauda said: “The casualties in the Mosque was higher, but it is difficult to give a total number of the dead because they were not assembled in one place. Some were taken to private hospitals, some were taken to more than five hospitals in the city, so we can’t get the total figure of casualties at the moment, until we go round all the hospital and take the lists”

Governor Simon Lalong inspected the attacked mosque in Dilimi and visited those receiving treatment in the hospitals. He expressed sympathy with the Muslim Umma and promised he will ensure the security agencies fish out those behind the attacks.

He also cancelled his programme: “In view of the Security situation in the State occasioned by the bomb blasts of Sunday 5th July, 2015 and other security concerns, the official Flag off and Sales of Fertilizer for the 2015 Cropping Season, earlier scheduled for Tuesday, 7th July, 2015 at Bassa Local Government Area should be postponed,” a statement said.

The statement by his Director of Press and Public Affairs Samuel Nanle, the governor said: “The unfortunate incident of the sporadic bomb blast at Bauchi Road and Dilimi -Yan Taya and the sporadic gun shots within the Jos Metropolis on Sunday 5th July, 2015 in this month of religious piety for the Moslem Ummah on the Plateau is highly condemnable.”

“The Executive Governor of Plateau State Simon Bako Lalong is therefore calling on all inhabitants of Jos North and the entire citizens of the State to remain calm in the midst of the unfortunate multiple bomb blasts and sporadic gun shots in the neighbourhood of Dilimi-Yan Taya and Bauchi Road Jos as at 10:30 pm.

” It is regrettable that at a time when Moslem faithful are settled to the fulfillment of a religious obligation, agents of death, chaos and anarchy have chosen to disrupt the peace of the state by orchestrating a spade of sporadic bomb blast to portray a state of dissatisfaction that pitches otherwise peaceful cohabitants against themselves.

“The Governor commiserates with all the victims of this heinous act and calls on all citizens of the State to remain calm and stand in solidarity with one another in the face of this onslaught by agents of death on our collective resolve to remain as one united people inspite of ethnic and religious difference.

“The Government of Plateau State is more than committed to consolidating on the peace process that has seen the peace loving people of Plateau living in peace and standing united against the force of terror which seeks to set the people against themselves and portray the imaginary existence of religious divide with deliberate attacks on religious faithful at times like this.

“Government will most certainly continue with her on-going consultative peace dialogue with a view to fishing out agents of destabilization and wade off the spade of systematic attacks which seem to show that the eminent end of insecurity is not at sight.

Gov Lalong called on citizens of the state to remain united against the enemies of the state, “We therefore must stand together in our resolve to put an end to the current state of insecurity and we trust that the good Lord, the giver of life and the divine protector of all lovers of peace will give us the grace, wisdom and courage to conquer the challenges and stand hand in hand against the force of terror and enemies of the State.

“The Executive Governor wishes to commend the Security Agencies and the various Aid Groups for their quick intervention and wishes to direct the immediate mounting of Snap check points at

But many in the state blamed the state governor Simon Lalong allowing the security for the state to relax after his election, a situation they say create rooms for influx of Commercial motor cycle ridder to flood the city from neighboring states. The use of commercial motor cycle was outlawn in Jos since 2012, but the commercial motorcycle riders, in fragrant abuse of the law, resumed the streets of Jos following the emergence of the APC government in the state. The expectation of citizens for the new government to enforce the law was not seen.

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