From DAVID MOLOMO, Yola, TIMOTHY OLA, Maiduguri and GABRIEL DIKE
It was a bloody 52nd Independence Day gift for four higher institutions when gunmen suspected to be Boko Haram massacred 43 students on Monday. Many people were injured, fueling fears that the death toll may rise. The schools attacked were Federal Polythecnic, Mubi, Adamawa State University and the School of Health Technology, Mubi.
The killings took place at a private hostel This is even as gunmen killed three students of the University of Maiduguri (UNIMAID), also on Independence Day, as residents of the Borno State capital witnessed shootings and bomb explosions. The city witnessed a war-like situation as the military Joint Task Force (JTF) engaged the militants. While the Federal Polythechnic, Mubi lost 26 students, 14 were killed at the other two higher institutions.
The remaining students hurriedly left the hostel. In the Adamawa attack, a church and some buildings were also burnt by the gunmen who shot indiscriminately. Although the attack on the students’ hostel took place outside the campus, the management of the Federal Polytechnic, Mubi has shut down the institution whose examinations expected to start yesterday, had to be postponed. According to a senior staff of the institution, who doesn’t want tobe named, there was exodus of students from the campus while security had been beefed up at the hostels and the main campus.
A student who narrowly escaped the attack but lost two course mates, said that the gunmen stormed the area at 10.00pm and started shooting indiscriminately, killing many students who fled the private hostel for safety but were cut short by the bullets. The Chairman, Academic Staff Union of Polytechnic (ASUP), Dr. Stanley Stephen, told our correspondent that though he was not on campus, but that the gunmen opened fire on the students, set ablaze a church and other buildings.
Dr. Stephen, however disclosed that no lecturer was affected, but confirmed that the polytechnic had been closed as a result of the attack even though the students were to start their exams this morning. The National President of ASUP, Mr. Asomugha Chibuzor, described the killings of the over 26 students at Federal Polytechnic, Mubi as unfortunate and that information available to him indicates that there was exodus of students. The ASUP boss appealed to the Federal Government to tighten security around all the tertiary institutions in the country to avert similar attacks.
He said the nation cannot continue to waste its youth through such killings and urged the government to stop the menace. At the Adamawa state University, Mubi, undisclosed number of students were reportedly killed by the gunmen, while staff and students fled the campusdespite the dusk-to dawn 24-hour curfew imposed on Mubi by the state government. As at Press time, heads of security agencies in the state were said to be heading for Mubi, and its environs.
The state government had imposed curfew about three weeks ago. The JTF was able to arrest about 158 Boko Haram suspects who had volunteered statements that facilitated apprehension of top shots. The JTF has also recovered over 600 weapons, Including Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), arrows, daggers and other sophisticated weapons in Mubi and its environs. Similarly, in the course of house-to-house search, JTF discovered a number of factories, where bombs and other sophisticated weapons were manufactured in Mubi.
In Maiduguri, the first explosion occurred at about 7am around Bayan Quarters area, headquarters of the Boko Haram sect where a lone bomber was blown off on Monday. Sources said the suspect who was on a mission to attack telecom facilities around the area suddenly ran out of luck as his car which was highly wired with explosive devices went in flame, leading to his death. While residents were still grappling with sporadic gunshots by JTF soldiers which trailed the explosion, another bomb targeted at the troops around a popular hotel along Lagos Street also went off, killing a soldier, three people were wounded.
A military source said the explosion occurred when a JTF patrol vehicle ran on IEDs suspected to have been planted by Boko Haram at about 7.50am on Monday. Hell was let loose as soldiers shot sporadically into the air till midday while residents around the area ran for safety. The popular Lagos Road which leads to two federal institutions; the University of Maiduguri and its teaching hospital (UMTH) was also cordoned off for most part of the day.
“We saw the body of a soldier being put in an ambulance with three other soldiers critically injured. But I cannot ascertain the condition of the other three soldiers when they evacuated them from the scene because soldiers were shooting and scaring everybody away from the area” a resident claimed. The JTF is yet to react to the incident even as its spokesman, Lt-Col Sagir Musa, who had earlier promised to furnish journalists some information on the incident did not do so as at Press time. Meanwhile, there were reports of killings in various parts of the metropolis since last weekend.
Two men were reportedly killed around the State Low Cost on Monday. Four people were killed at Forestry Quarters opposite former CBN Quarters along Damboa road in the city on Sunday night while three undergraduates of UNIMAID were slaughtered by unknown assassins in their rented apartments at 202 Housing Estate. Residents of the estate said the assailants sneaked into the area and slaughtered two of the students; a lady and a man while the third undergraduate was said to have escaped through the back door but was shot. “He later died in the hospital.
“He was a friend from southern Borno but his father is in Abuja,” one of his colleagues who identified himself as Ezekiel said. “We suspect ritual killing because we learnt some sensitive parts of one of the ladies, a part four law students were removed,” he added. The bodies of two of the slain students were discovered at an isolated area near the Maiduguri Water Treatment Plant. The killing of the students has heightened tension among parents and residents. However, UNIMAID said it cannot comment on the incident for now. “I’m sorry, we can’t comment on the incident now,” Chief Information Officer, Ahmed Tanko Mohammed, told Daily Sun.