Political activists working hard to catch attentions from loyalists in the ongoing campaigns in Nigeria are bracing up for more violent attacks in many weeks to come as a violent attack in Nigeria’s Niger State has claimed more than 10 lives in bomb attacks.
As election campaigns are gathering momentum, fears and anxiety are gripping the length and breath of Nigeria as some hoodlums are spoiling the political campaign with violent attacks.
Niger State Governor, Dr. Muazu Babangida Aliyu, Thursday was almost caught unawares as he had a close shave with death as Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) carried political campaign to Niger East senatorial campaign in Suleja.
Hoodlums trying to spoil political party ‘s election ambitions threw hand-held explosives were into the venue of the campaign in a twin explosions attack killed 10 persons and injured 21 others.
The first explosive was thrown over the fence of Government Secondary School, the venue of the campaign rally, at about 1.30 pm immediately after the national anthem had been rendered to end the event.
The second went off 20 minutes after the governor’s convoy had passed the same spot.
The devices, which were thrown into the venue of the event by a group of men in a white 18-seater moving bus, exploded immediately they landed.
Eighteen persons, mostly members of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) and the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC),were unconscious and were taken to the General Hospital.
Some with broken limbs were taken to the Gwagwalada Specialist Hospital for treatment.
No sooner had the explosion occurred than the police cordoned off the entire area thereby forcing travellers into the city to divert through Maje and Diko to enter Suleja town.
The incident threw the town into a state of pandemonium as parents rushed to pick their children from schools.
When THISDAY spoke with the Director-General, Media Publicity and Public Affairs, Alhaji Bala Ibrahim Abdulkadir, he confirmed the incident, adding that the police were on top of the situation and the government was waiting to be briefed by the police.
“Yes, it happened,” he said, adding: “There was actually an explosion but the police are on top of the situation and the government is waiting for the police to give reports on the incident as investigations have already commenced.”
The Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) Mr. Richard Oguche, said the Niger State Command was aware of the incident and had requested that the Commanding Officer of Suleja commence investigation immediately to ascertain what happened.
The bodies of the victims were deposited at the Suleja General Hospital mortuary.
The governor sympathised with the families of those who lost their lives and the injured.
Among the dignitaries who attended the event were Minister of Agriculture, Shiek Abdallah; the wife of the Niger State Governor Hajiya Jummai Babangida Aliyu; Senator Dahiru Awaisu; Senator Kanti Bello; Senator Zaynab Kure; Senator Nuhu Aliyu, among others.
Nearly two weeks ago, Governor Sullivan Chime of Enugu State escaped a bomb attack when an explosive planted close to his seat at the flag-off of his second term campaign was discovered by the police.
According to the police account, the bomb was planted under a chair.
Meanwhile, what could have been a very successful flag-off of the Labour Party (LP) gubernatorial campaign of the Deputy Governor of Plateau State, Dame Pauline Tallen, was yesterday marred with a ghastly road accident.
Twelve persons, including some of the party’s supporters, died on their way to Jos for the rally.
A statement from the state police command said: “At about 11 o’clock there occurred a fatal motor accident at Kassa along Jos/Barkin Ladi road a Nissan bus with Reg No XB 910 DAL and a Ford Bus with Reg No XE 653 JJN. Twelve people lost their lives and 21 got injured in the accident.”
The injured persons, according to the police statement signed by ASP Apev Jacob, had been taken to the state Specialist Hospital, while the corpses had been deposited at the Jos University Teaching Hospital (JUTH) mortuary.
“The cause of the accident is still being investigated,” the statement added.
The accident, THISDAY gathered, was a headlong collision between the bus carrying the LP supporters and another bus heading to Mangu from Kaduna for a burial ceremony.
State Governor Jonah Jang and Tallen in separate statements have condoled with families of the deceased.
The rally which pulled a large crowd of supporters however was not deterred as flags were presented in a colourful ceremony to Tallen and other candidates of the party.
Dan Nwayanwu, the national chairman of the party, promised that Plateau, under LP, would be free from incessant crises and bloodshed.
He also said that civil servants would not groan under the party’s rule as obtainable under Jang, in which workers had been on strike for several months.
Reacting to the blasts, President Goodluck Jonathan, last night directed all national security agencies to step up intelligence and surveillance operations across the country to thwart any further attempts by enemies of democracy to unleash politically-motivated violence on innocent Nigerians.
The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Ima Niboro, said in a statement that Jonathan “strongly condemns as most deplorable, callous, cowardly and wicked the attack which claimed some lives and injured several persons.
“The President condoles the families of those who lost their lives in the dastardly attack and commiserates with all those who are currently receiving treatment for the injuries inflicted on them.”
Former military president, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida, said the explosions had once again brought a sad commentary on the nation and its march towards entrenching democracy that is rooted in issue-based campaigns.
Babangida, who disclosed this in a statement signed by his media spokesman, Prince Kassim Afegbua, said: “Bomb explosions are gradually removing the beauty and attraction of political campaigns from being a platform where issues are presented to the electorate to being one that is dominated with fear, apprehension, suspicion, intimidation and threat to humanity.”
The presidential candidate of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, in a statement, said:
“I am deeply saddened by the news of an explosion that has so far claimed 10 lives in the rally of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Suleja, Niger State.
“I wish to extend my condolences to the families of the victims of the blast. Without doubt they are heroes of our democracy and we must not allow them to die in vain.
“However, I want to call on the PDP-led government to take adequate measures to safeguard the lives of Nigerians that attend political rallies. We cannot afford to lose more lives on account of security lapses.”