SEVENTY-TWO hours after Jos, the Plateau State capital, experienced twin blasts which left about 100 dead and several injured persons still lying critically ill in hospitals, another explosion occurred at the Bauchi road axis of the town at about 9pm on Saturday. This time, the target was a viewing centre where about 300 youths were watching the European Champions League final.
The lone bomber who was prevented from the targeted spot, detonated the bomb, apparently in annoyance, killing himself and three other persons in the process. Two others were injured and are now receiving treatment in hospitals.
Operatives of the Special Task Force, STF, keeping the peace in Plateau State as well as the State Police Command confirmed the incident during a chat with Vanguard Metro, VM. The Media spokesman of the STF, Capt Ikedichi Iweha told VM on phone that some vehicles and property were burnt during the incident.
He said: “We are putting the findings together but for the record, three persons have been confirmed dead and two others injured, that is the figure for now. The bomb was targeted at a viewing centre in the area but fortunately, it exploded without hitting the target”.
The Plateau State Police commissioner, Mr. Chris Olakpe affirmed this, adding that: “A lone bomber carried the bomb in a car and was heading towards a television viewing centre, the target of his attack.
”He was unsettled by the presence of youths and security operatives and detonated the bomb before getting to his target. I can confirm to you that three people were killed and three others wounded.
The dead included the loan bomber while the death included one Alhaji Bello, the owner of the house in front of where the bomb went off and his friend”.
However, the North Central Zone, Principal Planning Officer of the National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, Mohammed Suleiman gave a different figure. According to him: “During our search and rescue, we discovered three bodies that night but in the morning we discovered one more body and two persons were injured. The injured persons were taken to Al-Isan hospital in Angwan Rogo and the other one is at Gambaji Hospital in Yan Shanu”.
Speaking on the death of Alhaji Bello the owner of the house where the suicide bomber blew himself, the younger brother, Ibrahim Shehu Masala told MV: “Around 8:30pm I came into my elder brother’s compound and met him arguing with someone about the presence of the person’s car in his premise. He asked the driver of the car to remove the car but the man refused.
“He went into the house and instructed his wife and children to leave the house. After they had gone, he came back and called a neighbour, telling him that he suspects the vehicle.
“They insisted that the driver removed the vehicle but he refused but later agreed to do so. As he entered the car, they insisted that he must drive away.
”Though I had gone into the my own compound, but I could hear them. When he started the car, the bomb exploded and my brother and his friend who had come to talk to the driver were killed”.
Shehu added: “Five minutes after I left the scene, the bomb exploded, I was just lucky not being there as I would have been affected”.
The late Bello has two wives and eight children, according to the viewing centre owner
Another eye witness, Alhaji Ibrahim Mohammed who told VM he overheard the argument but his mind was on the match said: “Many of us did not really pay attention to what was happening but thank God for those people who stopped the evil man; many of us would have been dead by now”.
Businesses in town
Meanwhile, the owner of the Viewing centre, Salamanu Ahmed Ali, told VM on phone he is not interested in running the viewing centre any more as he would not have been able to live with guilt had his patrons perished.
He said: “The situation is very unfortunate, I don’t know what to say or how to describe it. I lost my elder brother, Alhaji Bello, in the incident because he was suspecting the driver; now see what happened.
”I am not interested in the business any longer. I am a Marine Engineer by profession and I’m running other businesses in town, I will concentrate on those ones because I’m so scared now. If the driver had had his way and many people died, I don’t know how I would have lived with the situation”.
He confirmed that the family of the late Bello are taking refuge with relatives as their building was destroyed by the explosion.
Reacting to the incident, Member representing Jos North-North Constituency in the Plateau State House of Assembly, Ibrahim Baba Hassan, said: “It is a very terrible situation; at times I lack words to express myself. It just happened some days ago at terminus market and now it has happened again on Bauchi road.
“We condemn this act; this is something we only watch on television and now we are seeing it even here in Jos North. I’m calling on the youths to come together and fight this thing, because this is a war on Nigerians. Bauchi road is 100% Muslims, and the target was the viewing centre not this house. So as you can see, it is a war on everybody”.
Also, the Commissioner for Water Resources and Energy, Mallam Idi Waziri stated thus: “This war is not for the government alone, it is for everybody. These people are living with us, they are within us and we must fish them out.
“Government cannot provide security to all households in Nigeria, everybody must be a partaker in ensuring that we fight this war. It is not the issue of religion or tribe, but it is an issue that some people have made up their mind to kill their fellow human beings and they want to continue.
“It is a deliberate attempt to frustrate government’s efforts towards development. We will continue to call on citizens of Plateau State in particular to remain calm, resolute and firm towards ensuring that we fight and win the war and collectively, and celebrate it, God’s willing”.