At least 80 people have died in Jos, the Plateau State capital, since a series of bombs went off in the city over the weekend. The death toll initially put at 32 has increased with many of the injured dying from their wounds.
The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) yesterday confirmed that it has recovered 80 bodies, many from the streets. Daniel Balarabe Gambo, the Agency’s deputy director of operations said statistics from five hospitals show that about 180 people injured in the blasts were receiving treatment.
The Special Joint Task Force has paraded three persons arrested at the abattoir and Dutse Uku area of the state allegedly trying to plant a fresh bomb at the back of a Baptist Church building at Nasarawa Gwong.
The three are also accused of complicity in last Friday’s bomb blast as dynamites and other explosive substances were found in their possession. The Task Force said they have been handed over to the police for further investigation.
The officials also recovered three bottles of petroleum bombs, some quantity of fertiliser, bottles of dynamites, live ammunitions, rifles, bows and arrows. A few of the suspects ran away on sighting security operatives.
The commander of the Task Force, Hamza Haruna, a Brigadier General, said the bombs were intercepted when the owners were trying to plant them. The Commissioner of Police, Plateau State Command, Abdulrahman Akano, said a total of seven explosives were discovered to have been planted in two separate areas of the state capital.
He said the police and other security agencies are determined to get to the root of the matter and are already in possession of some leads that will unmask the culprits.
Mr. Akano said the dynamite and about 100 match boxes recovered from one of the places combed by men of the bomb unit are now being analysed.
A sad occurrence
Oluseyin Petinrin, Air Chief Marshall and Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) has promised that the federal government will make sure that the perpetrators are brought to justice.
Mr. Petinrin who spoke in Jos yesterday when he visited Kabong, Gada Biu the place where the first bomb was exploded, spoke in Pidgin English.
He said the dastardly act was condemnable. “Dis kin tin way happen e dey sadden everybody. Even for Abuja, everybody is unhappy. We commiserate with you, because this is your community, some of the people wey die some of them na una relations and so on.
“By the grace of God, we will get to the bottom of this thing, but these people (perpetrators) e get wetin dem wan achieve.
“Wetin dem wan achieve be say we start to fight each other for Nigeria, if we say we go start to attack oda people, you are just attacking innocent people,’’ he said.
He appealed to the people to remain calm and assured them that the security agents would unearth the perpetrators of the act.
“The way you can help government to quickly get to the bottom of this thing is to be calm, go about your normal business and do not try to retaliate. When you retaliate, you will be retaliating against innocent people. You do not know the people who did this thing. It is possible they are not even from Jos, so let us get to the bottom of it first and I know you can help,’’ he said.
Meanwhile, some groups have described the bombings as “barbaric and a national tragedy.’’ The groups, The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC), Muslim Media Practitioners of Nigeria (MMPN), Movement for Islamic Cultural Awareness (MICA) and Obafemi Awolowo University Muslim Graduates Association (UNIFEMGA, condemned the attack.
In a statement, MURIC Director, Ishaq Akintola, said the group was deeply disturbed by “ the use of terrorist tactics like bomb explosions to settle scores. This is a dastardly act. It is barbaric, inhuman and insane. The perpetrators are unpatriotic and unscrupulous elements bent on turning Nigeria into a wide battle field.’’ The group appealed to religious and tribal leaders in the affected area to call their followers to order and ensure that everything necessary was done to avoid further bloodshed.
In the same vein, Muslim media practitioners in a statement by Abdurrahman Balogun, chairman of the group, called on the authorities to fish out the perpetrators of the killings and bring them to book without further delay.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), quoted the MICA Coordinator in Abuja, Abdulbasit Bakare, as saying “It is sad that ethnic and religious rivalry in Plateau State has degenerated into deep ethnic hatred and killings of innocent people. This dangerous trend must stop forthwith.’’ Ahmed Popoola, National President of UNIFEMGA also condemned the bombings and urged leaders of all sectors to refrain from making inflammatory statements.
“The people of Plateau must learn to live together in harmony, embracing one another for the sake of themselves and to ensure peace and stability without which meaningful progress would be unattainable, ‘’ he said.
State of emergency
The Patriotic Alliance of Nigeria (PAN), yesterday called on the government to declare a state of emergency in Plateau State.
Maxi Okwu, the group’s coordinator said there was need for the government to treat the incident as a serious breach of national security.
“We can no longer afford to fold our arms while reckless individuals turn the nation into carnage of sorts. No one is safe and if care is not taken, Nigeria will soon become like some countries where bombs are being detonated everyday and lives lost’’ Mr Okwu said.