•More condemnations trail attacks on Buhari, cleric •Mark, Tambuwal, Lagos Assembly ask security agencies to unmask sponsors •Jonathan can’t end Boko Haram, says Oritsejafor •Nigeria capable of handling sect – Buhari
By Temidayo Akinsuyi, Akinwunmi King (Lagos), Celestine Okafor, Stella Omona (Abuja)
Former military President, Ibrahim Babangida, on Thursday queued behind people who have condemned Wednesday’s twin bomb blasts suspected to have been targeted at ex-military Head of State, Muhammadu Buhari, and an Islamic cleric, Sheik Dahiru Bauchi, in Kaduna.
Banagida warned against continued bloodletting in the country.
In a statement he personally signed and entitled, ‘This Bloodletting Must Stop’, Babangida said the bomb attacks have once again thrown up new dimensions in the political life of Nigeria which has been branded as a terrorist nation.
“This and several other attacks have tended to portray our dear country as a terrorist nation that is grasping with insecurity. To state the least, this bloodletting must stop. This bloodletting has to stop”.
More than 50 people were killed by the two bombs that went off moments between one another in the Kaduna metropolis on Wednesday.
Babangida said he was yet to fathom why Nigerians can be killing one another when they are not in the middle of a civil war.
He added that the incessant terrorist attacks in the country have continued to “retard our growth and democratic journey, forcing the system to improvise all manners of mechanisms to arrest this descent to anarchy”.
“It is callous and inhuman for anyone to goad this country on the path of perfidy, a path that is laid with landmines and bombs. This is totally unacceptable.”
While sympathising with President Goodluck Jonathan, Buhari and families of those who lost their lives in the blasts, Babangida enjoined Nigerians to cooperate with the President and the state Governors in finding lasting solutions to the insecurity challenge irrespective of their ethnic, religion or political differences.
“Even as I sympathise with my colleague former President, General Mohammadu Buhari, for escaping the bomber’s scalpel, I also wish to condole with the families of those who lost their lives in this attack.
“It is frightening and calls for condemnation by all well meaning people of Nigeria. We all must rise above partisanship in our condemnation of this state of insecurity, as we all must be united in our clear-cut resolve to finding solutions to this hydra-headed situation we find ourselves.
“We must see this state of insecurity as a Nigeria problem and not one that is pigeon-holed in any particular region, religion or tribe.
“Nigerians, by virtue of their nationality, should be free to live anywhere in the country without molestation, harassment and intimidation.
“Let me also condole with Mr. President on this unfortunate incident and the recurring decimal of insecurity and crime against humanity that is fast polluting public morality.
“We all must join hands with Mr. President at this critical time of our national history and democratic journey to proffer solutions to this anti-development scenario that is fast enveloping us,” Babangida added.
Buhari himself, National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), spoke again on the attack on him, saying Nigeria, as a country was capable of handling the Boko Haram menace.
He spoke when he hosted Kaduna State Governor, Ramalan Yero, who paid him a visit to commiserate with him and congratulate him on his lucky escape from the blast.
“When this question of Boko Haram started, I am sure it was on record that the first statement I made about 18 months ago, I said no religion advocates what is happening.”
He said the attacks can never be described as religious or ethnic, because “they kill children in schools in the North East, they kill teachers, they burn churches, they burn mosques, they burn motor parks, they burn markets.
“Where is religion there? Where is ethnicity there? This is terrorism and I hope the government will come to grip with it.
“Nigeria is capable of dealing with this, we dealt with the civil war, for 30 months we fought and we kept Nigeria one and God willing we are going to keep Nigeria one.
“I commiserate with the families of those that are dead, because this thing was ignited at exactly when my car was almost side by side with this thing.
“I came out, there was blood on my dress; I did not know how it came about because I did not have a scratch myself, but dead bodies all over the place.
“The security tried to move me to the other side and we just got one of the vehicles passing and they brought me home.
“I hope the law enforcement agencies and the chief executives of the states will succeed in securing the country. May God help us,” Buhari said.
In his own remarks, the Governor called on people to avoid crowded areas.
Yero who visited the scenes of the two blasts, and the hospitals to commiserate with the victims, noted: “In the last two years, we have not had this kind of problem, but everything has its own time”.
“This thing happened yesterday (Wednesday); it is a very sad incident. And whoever is behind this knows that he has no fear of God.
“This is very unfortunate; it is not supposed to be. So, we are totally condemning this act and we are also calling on people to condemn it and make sure people watch out for what is around them.”
On his part, President of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Ayo Oritsejafor, believes that only religious leaders, and not President Goodluck Jonathan, can end the insecurity the country, especially in the Northern region.
Oritsejafor stated this on Wednesday at the graduation send forth/prize giving day ceremony held by the Stephen International Centre, Abeokuta, Ogun State capital.
“With all sense of all responsibility, I use this opportunity to call on all Muslim leaders, traditional rulers and political leaders in the North, not necessarily in the South West, because in the South West, we have lived together and I know the way it operates in the South West, to join hands to end insurgency.
“I was told this land where this school was built was bought from a Muslim. If a Muslim organisation needs a land and a Christian has it, sell it to them, that’s the way to live and the kind of country we are looking for.
“So, I am challenging from the North, our religious leaders, political rulers and traditional rulers, as a matter of urgency, to step forward and take responsibility for the way out of this problem.
“Boko Haram is propelled by a religious ideology, it is not poverty.
“Anyone who tells you it is poverty is not telling you the truth. It is not poverty. When you blame it on poverty, it is an insult to poor people.
“There are poor people everywhere even Christians all over the North. Bin Laden was not a poor man, he was from a rich Saudi Arabian family.
“The Nigerian boy who almost blew up a plane on Christmas day is a son of one First Bank Chairman and he is still one of the richest people in Nigeria today.
“Boko Haram insurgency is an ideology, people are being radicalised by an ideology,” the CAN chieftain added.
Also, Senate President, David Mark, for the umpteenth time, urged the perpetrators of terrorism and bomb blasts to sheathe their swords no matter the issues, as killings cannot be a solution to any problem.
Mark in a statement on Thursday by his Chief Press Secretary, Paul Mumeh, noted that there is nowhere in the world where violence or killing of people had solved any issue.
Mark stated that the ceaseless killings and destruction of property would only worsen the economic and socio- political situation of Nigeria.
He, therefore, renewed his appeal to the perpetrators to hearken to the voice of reason and embrace dialogue which the present administration consistently offers.
Also, Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, described the attacks as a double tragedy aimed at the soul of the nation.
In a statement on Thursday by his Special Adviser on Media and Public Affairs, Uche Anichukwu, Ekweremadu expressed a deep sense of loss over the massive destruction of lives and property occasioned by the dastardly acts.
He expressed solidarity with Buhari as well as the Islamic scholar, Sheikh Dahiru Bauchi, over the incidents.
Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal, described the blasts as cruel, barbaric and heinous crime.
According to him, the targeting of prominent persons as seen from the blasts is both regrettable and condemnable.
In a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Public Affairs, Malam Imam Imam, Tambuwal said killing of innocent persons cannot be justified under any guise, adding that whoever was behind the Kaduna incidents should be pursued and brought to justice.
While thanking God that the apparent targets of the attacks, Buhari and Sheikh Dahiru Usman Bauchi, have escaped unhurt, Tambuwal expressed sadness over the loss of innocent lives.
“Our sympathy and condolences are with the families of the victims of the blast. Their loved ones did not die in vain,” he added.
The Northern States Governors Forum (NSGF) similarly condemned the attacks.
Chairman of the forum and Governor of Niger state, Mu’azu Babangida Aliyu, on behalf of the NSGF for the umpteenth time appealed to the perpetrators to respect the sanctity of human life and desist from continued shedding of innocent blood.
Aliyu described the explosions as “very unfortunate and a sign of cowardly on the part of those behind the dastardly act”.
“Killing of innocent souls under whatsoever guise is not only ungodly but also a dastardly show of shame on the part of the perpetrators,” he added, and reminded members of the Boko-Haram on the evil of their activities, which, according to him, is “Haram before Allah”.
All Progressives Congress (APC) also expressed shock and revulsion at Wednesday’s bomb attacks in Kaduna.
In a statement in Lagos on Thursday by its National Publicity Secretary, Lai Mohammed, the party sent its condolences to the families of the victims and pray that God will give them the much-needed strength at times like this, while also wishing the injured a speedy recovery.
APC said the attempted assassination of Buhari “has changed the narrative about the insurgent group and knocked the bottom off the sinister, irresponsible and partisan colouration given to the insurgency by the Federal Government”.
It noted that while no one has yet claimed responsibility for the attacks, the mere fact that they occurred at all is a lose-lose situation for the Jonathan-led administration.
‘’Whether it is Boko Haram or not, one thing remains: This government has failed woefully in its core constitutional duty of protecting the security and welfare of the citizenry. And we mean all the citizens, not just the leaders!
‘’And contrary to the simplistic and clearly selfish portrayal of the Boko Haram insurgency as a sinister plot to bring down the government of Jonathan, it should now be clear to the Federal Government that has engaged in ceaseless finger-pointing instead of tackling the insurgency headlong that Boko Haram is an enemy of Nigeria and of all of humanity,” APC added.
Canadian Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and for International Human Rights, Deepak Obhrai, also condemned the twin bomb blasts.
He described the act during Ramadan fast as cowardly.
“Canada condemns in the strongest terms the two terrorist attacks in Nigeria’s Kaduna region, which killed at least 82 innocent victims.
“These cowardly acts took place on one of the most important nights of Ramadan, and reports are that one of the bombs targeted former Nigerian leader, General Buhari.
“They also follow on the heels of Boko Haram’s brutal destruction of Damboa and recent attacks on Chibok, the hometown of the kidnapped girls.
“On behalf of all Canadians, I call for swift justice for the perpetrators of this violence and offer our sincere condolences to the families and friends of the victims,” Obhrai stated.
Former Minister of Transport, Ebenezer Babatope, also condemned the Kaduna twin blasts.
In a statement on Thursday, Babatope, a member of the Board of Trustees (BoT) of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), said those behind act of insurgency in the country will be exposed and vanquished “very soon”.
While praying for the repose of the soul of the departed, he said they will be remembered as martyrs of Nigeria’s national life while the perpetrators will perpetually be villains.
“The Kaduna bomb blasts should be condemned by all decent minds and patriots.
“The evil men who are behind these bomb blasts will eventually be exposed and vanquished by forces loyal to the unity and continued existence of Nigeria.
“It is sad again and tragic that innocent Nigerian citizens have been killed in the bomb blasts. Their deaths will never be in vain.
“While the insurgents will for ever remain the villains of our history, the murdered innocent Nigerians will join the martyrs of our national life,” he said.
On his part, National Publicity Secretary of Afenifere, Yinka Odumakin, said Buhari’s death could have plunged the nation into another civil war had the terrorists succeeded in their mission.
While expressing the view that some undesirable elements may have capitalised on the recent face-off between Buhari and President Goodluck Jonathan to carry out the condemnable act to give the impression that Presidency is behind it, Odumakin called on the security agencies to fish out those behind the attack.
Members of the Lagos State House of Assembly on their part challenged President Goodluck Jonathan to tell Nigerians who the sponsors and financiers of Boko Haram are.
Speaking on behalf of the Assembly, Chairman, House Committee on Information, Strategy, Security and Publicity, Segun Olulade, said “from what I understand based on personal account of Gen. Buhari about the incidence, the APC stalwart’s life was clearly targeted in the attack given the trail on his vehicle before final detonation of the bomb.
“Hence, Gen. Buhari who has been very vocal against the terrorist group cannot be said to be the patron of the same group that seeks to end his life as evident in the attempt on his life, and therefore, the PDP-led government should tell the country in clear terms who are the actual sponsors and patrons of Boko Haram,” the lawmaker said.
He described the Wednesday twin bomb explosions as a new dimension to terror attacks in the country as both were targeted against individuals even though it was clear that in the process, many lives would be lost.