Conflicting figures were issued Tuesday on the death toll resulting from the multiple bomb blasts that rocked Sabon Gari in the Kano State capital Monday night, with the Joint Military Task Force (JTF) declaring that 12 persons had been confirmed dead from the attacks, while the hospital authorities in Kano disclosed that 24 bodies had been brought to the mortuary.
In a statement signed by Lieutenant Ikedichi Iweha, the JTF said: “At about 2105 hours on July 29, 2013, sounds of simultaneous explosions were triggered by persons suspected to be members of the Boko Haram terrorist group between Nos. 38 – 41 New Road and Igbo Road by Enugu Road, all in the Sabon Gari area of Fagge Local Government Council of Kano State.
“This latest incidence could have been avoided if citizens maintained vigilance to observe when packages are dropped as it was in this case; contrary to reports circulating in some sections of the media of the attack being done by suicide bombers.
“You may recollect that the JTF had urged residents of Kano metropolis to keep an eye on their environment as members of the terrorist sect had planned to drop packages in bags or cartons in areas with high human traffic.
“Following the attacks, 12 persons were confirmed dead, while those who sustained various degrees of injuries were rushed to hospital for medical attention.”
However, contradicting the JTF’s statement, the hospital authorities revealed that 24 dead bodies were brought to the hospital mortuary, while nine people who sustained injuries had been admitted at Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital Tuesday morning.
The injured victims, the hospital said, were transferred from the Murtala Muhammad Specialist Hospital.
Spokesman of the hospital, Aminu Inuwa, told THISDAY: “We received 24 dead bodies and they were deposited at the mortuary.”
He also took THISDAY round the area where injured victims had been admitted in the emergency ward, adding, “Among the dead bodies brought to us, 20 of them were men while others comprised four women.”
Opening up on his ordeal, one of the injured persons, Emeka Mba, said: “This is a tragic incident; we are surprised why we were chosen as targets. I think those that perpetrated this dastardly act must be fished out. I am in real pain.”
Also, Emmanuel Ani, an attendant in a relaxation spot in Sabon Gari, described what transpired on Tuesday night: “As I speak to you now, I cannot explain what really happened. The only thing I can remember was that I was about serving a plate of Isi-ewu (goat meat head) to a customer when I heard a deafening blast that shook the ground and displaced people.”
Another victim, Ejike Godwin, who THISDAY sighted in the hospital, remained in critical condition as doctors battled to save his life.
But for Mr. Alade Ezekiel, 47, he said: “At about 9pm on Monday, I came out to take a dish of Amala; all of a sudden, I head a deafening sound, and before I could grasp reality, a sharp object pierced through my left hand and blood gushed out.
“Another bomb exploded and before I could manage to escape, another object pierced my leg. By this time, I could not move. The only thing I could do was to crawl until a soldier came and rescued me.”
Reacting to the incident, the state governor, Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, who visited victims at the Murtala Muhammad Specialist Hospital, condemned the attacks and promised that the state government would bear the cost of their treatment.
He directed the state Commissioner for Health to ensure that the victims get the best treatment in public or private hospitals in the state.
The governor also extended his heartfelt condolences to the families of those who lost their lives in the incident, praying Allah to stand by them in this moment of sorrow.
In a related development, following last Saturday’s killing of 25 members of a youth vigilance group in Borno State, the Defence Headquarters (DHQ) has deployed more troops in areas where emergency rule was declared, even as it has vowed to protect the civilian population and youth groups helping to rout Boko Haram.
This assurance was made yesterday in a statement by the Director of Defence Information (DDI), Brig-Gen. Chris Olukolade, during which he condemned the “unprovoked attacks” against innocent civilians.
Olukolade also confirmed that a number of other innocent civilians mostly women, children and the elderly were killed in the unprovoked attack.
He said the incidents, which followed separate attacks on the group and the two communities, Dawashi and Mainok in Borno State, were consistent with the new pattern of operation by the terrorists after the loss of their camps.
He said: “This practice of laying ambush or attacking innocent civilians by terrorists lately is meant to intimidate Nigerians who have rejected the activities of terrorists in the communities.
“The special forces have been directed to ensure that the perpetrators of the recent incidents are tracked down and the manhunt for them is in progress accordingly.”
The Defence spokesman revealed that more troops and equipment were being deployed for their operations to ensure better coverage and protection of communities in the operational areas.
“All citizens are enjoined to maintain a high level of vigilance and continue to cooperate with security forces in the operation.
“Members of the vigilance group in particular are being counselled to endeavour to work only under the strict guidance and protection of the security forces in their localities,” he said.
“The Defence Headquarters appreciates the determination of Nigerians, particularly individuals and communities, who have offered assistance and are working in support of the counter-terrorism operations in spite of the desperate activities of the few bands of marauding insurgents,” he added.
In the meantime, the Minister of State for Defence, Mrs. Olusola Obada, has called for effective military leadership in the light of the ongoing security challenges, adding that to sustain economic growth and development in Africa, there must be good leadership.
Obada stated this Tuesday at the graduation of Course 21 participants at the National Defence College (NDC), Abuja.
She said research had established a relationship between leadership, governance and development, adding that good governance was a significant determinant of development.
“Today, as we strive to usher in a new era of democratic governance, the challenges of leadership must be assessed against the backdrop of years of centralised and dictatorial rule.
“Indeed, this new dispensation calls for a new set of values and morals if we are going to live up to the leadership challenges that confront us,” she said.
Also speaking, the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Admiral Ola Ibrahim, said the evolving security challenges in the country required a new approach in military leadership.
Ibrahim, while delivering the graduation lecture, ‘New Approach to Leadership for the Nigerian Armed Forces’, noted that for the military to effectively tackle the current security challenges, there was the need for leaders to do their best as the public is watching.
According to him, it is an established fact that good leadership is vital to the success of any organisation including the Nigerian Armed Forces.
He said: “The inability of some commanders to perform could be attributed to lack of adequate attention to detail by leaders.
“We should all know that military education cannot be complete without exploiting the attributes of a leader; for a military leader to succeed, the guiding principles of leadership are important.”