…Gunmen set ablaze Customs, Immigration offices • Soldiers, civilians killed in Bauchi
From MOLLY KILETE, Abuja
Eight days after the bombing of the church inside the Jaji military formation in Kaduna State, Daily Sun learnt that the bombs used in the act might have actually been manufactured within the quarters.
This new lead came just as the Board of Inquiry (BoI) set up by military authorities to investigate the bombing commenced work. “There is high possibility that the terrorists actually manufactured the Improvised Explosive Devise (IED) right inside the massive cantonment”, a source confided.
While the Jaji ugly drama unfolds, security agencies have continued to comb and demolish suspected hideouts for terrorists in the Federal Capital Territory and its environs.
There are also indications that the investigation of the attack by Boko Haram of the Special Anti Robbery Squad (SARS) headquarters in Abuja is raising another unprecedented controversy within the force high command.
Nonetheless, there seemed to be no let down in activities of the terror group as suspected gunmen went on rampage at border post in northeaster Nigeria, setting ablaze churches and border posts.
But in Azare township of Bauchi State, an intense fight between the terrorists and security agents has led to the death of a soldier and several civilians.
In respect of the Jaji incident, Daily Sun got facts that some confessional statements of the arrested soldiers indicatesd that the suicide bombers might have been residents in the large cantonment and actually manufactured the IED right inside the barrack, thereby making it easier for them to have driven straight to the church without being detected.
The initial theories on the blast suggested that the bombers might have infiltrated the barracks through the back borders said to be very porous
However, source at the Armed Forces Command School, (AFCS) Jaji, who didn’t want his name mentioned told Daily Sun that there washigh possibility that the materials used for making the explosives were taken into the barracks by the attackers, who took their time to assemble them. That also might have informed the swift action the managers of the facility took in banishing civilians from the camp.
The source also said preliminary investigation showed that it was possible the explosives were assembled on the day of attack, reason the attackers came a little after the church dismissed.
The source said that but for some of the members who ran back to the church on hearing the first blast, the casualty figure would have been less before the second bomb planted in a car at the parking lot went off.
The aim of the terrorists according to the source, was to wipe out the entire congregation with the hope that while the first blast would kill members right inside the church, the second would take care of those trying to run out of the church.
Meanwhile, the service chiefs are not treating the matter lightly but are bent on unraveling the cause. Two investigative committees have been set up by both the Chief of Defence Staff, Admiral Ola Sa’ad Ibrahim and the Chief of Army Staff, Gen. Azubuike Ihejirika, with Maj-General Abdulkadir, heading the one set up by the army chief.
As these investigations continue, military sources said more heads would roll as some personnel suspected to have sympathy for the group might be taken in for questioning.
There are fears that if the attack is not tackled, more military establishments like the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA), Depot, Nigerian Army, Zaria, where officers and soldiers are trained could be targeted.
In a related development, as security agencies continue to raid terrorists’ hideout in the FCT and make arrests, a good number of suspected terrorists are already making useful statements on their involvement in some of the attacks in the country.
Meanwhile, police sources have revealed that the investigative panel set up by the authorities might meet brick wall as a query allegedly issued to the Assistant Commissioner of Police in charge of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), in the FCT, for alleged negligence over the terrorists attack on the Special Anti Robbery Squad (SARS), is causing ripples.
Daily Sun gathered that the officer’s objection to the query may not be unconnected with an order from the Force Headquarters to personnel at SARS, allegedly restricting them form shooting in such situations unless expressly commanded to do so.
The source told Daily Sun that the restriction order from the police high command at the headquarters might be the reason the mobile policemen manning the gate at SARS could not really do much to counter the invaders.
Just as the intrigues into the SARS attacker unfolded suspected members of the extremist group, Boko Haram were said to have set fire on churches and border posts in northeastern Nigeria on Sunday, but it was not immediately known if there were casualties.
Not less than 50 gunmen in cars and on motorcycles carried out the attacks on three churches and border posts with neighbouring Cameroon, opening fire on police and chanting Allahu Akbar (God is Great), residents said.
Among the security posts burned were offices for immigration, customs and the secret police and a quarantine building in the city of Gamboru Ngala, about 140 kilometres (80 miles) from the Boko Haram stronghold of Maiduguri.
“They opened fire on the security personnel but it is hard to say if anybody was hurt or killed,” resident Modugana Ibrahim told AFP. Another resident, Hamidu Ahmad, said the gunmen went into town, chanting ‘Allahu Akbar’ and burnt down the divisional police station and three churches.”
Residents reported gun battles between the assailants and police reinforcements who arrived from Maiduguri. The sources did not say whether worshippers were in the churches at the time of the attacks, and police and the army could not immediately be reached for comment.
Eyewitnesses in Azare township in Bauchi State also stated that the township is in a lockdown as security forces engage Islamist militants in intense gunfight.
The township has recently become the center of assassination of public figures and politicians including the killing of a local chief, Maji Dadin Katagum, last night in front of his house as he returned from evening prayers at a nearby mosque.
Some residents in the town said the gunmen have killed a Nigerian soldier and several civilians. The gunmen had also suffered unspecified number of casualties in their rank.
Many residents were trapped in their homes for the fear of being caught in the gunfight.