ABUJA—A blast, yesterday, ripped through a car park outside Gombe Stadium where President Goodluck Jonathan had addressed a campaign rally barely three minutes after he left. A suspected female bomber and another woman died in the blast while six other persons sustained various degrees of injury, according to the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) in the state, DSP Fwaje Atajiri.
Atajiri, however, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that the blast occurred near a carpenter’s shop in Kashere Street at the Water Board area in Gombe city and not at the campaign rally.
Coordinator of the National Information Centre, Mr. Mike Omeri, who confirmed the blast also disclosed that the African Union Peace and Security Council had approved the mobilization and immediate deployment of 7,500 troops to Nigeria to fight Boko Haram.
The blast occurred in Gombe on a day explosion rocked three court premises in Rivers State with one of the affected courts burnt down by fire.
An eyewitness to the blast in Gombe, Mohammed Bolari, who was at the rally, said the explosion happened at 3:10 pm, three minutes after President Jonathan’s departure.
According to him, “the President had just passed the parking lot and we were trailing behind his convoy when the explosion happened, just 100 metres from the bus we were driving in.”
Jonathan’s appearance in the city came just a day after two blasts in the city, including one that targeted a military checkpoint. At least five people were killed.
There was no claim of responsibility for Sunday’s attacks but the city has been hit by suspected Boko Haram militants in the past.
Bolari said of the latest blast: “It is difficult to say how many people were affected because of the confused struggle by the huge crowd leaving the venue to escape for fear of another blast.”
He added that “the explosion led to unrest in the city, with crowds of angry youths attacking anyone seen with any PDP sign. They were shouting and denouncing the President’s visit which they blamed for the attack. We had a difficult time passing through these crowds. At one point a crowd threw stones at our vehicle. Some reporters sustained cuts from smashed window screens.”
Also confirming the blast while updating newsmen on the security situation in the country in Abuja, Omeri said: “We got confirmation that there was actually a blast at the Water Board Junction in Gombe town. The incident took place soon after the President and his entourage left the stadium in Gombe. However, casualty figure is yet to be ascertained,” he said.
Army gets 7,500 AU troops boost
Omeri also disclosed that the African Union Peace and Security Council had approved the mobilization and immediate deployment of 7,500 troops to Nigeria to fight Boko Haram.
According to him, the recent regional and continental synergy and resolutions to establish a multinational military force by Nigeria’s neighbouring countries of Chad, Niger and Cameroon as well as the AU decision on the matter is point of reference.
“The African Union Peace and Security Council, at the recently concluded 24th ordinary session approved the mobilization and deployment of 7,500 troops to Nigeria to fight Boko Haram.
“Consequently, the AU Peace and Security Council is billed to begin to meet in Cameroon on Monday to authorize and finalize the concept of the operation in the fight against “Boko Haram” a decision which has been welcomed by the UN Secretary-General, Mr. Ban Ki Moon.”
Speaking on the recent breakthrough recorded by Nigerian Army, Omeri noted that there had been a commendable determination by various stakeholders to tackle the menace of Boko Haram.
“In the couple of days the effort of Nigerian military in checking insurgency in the north east has continued to yield result. On Sunday, February, 1 2015, government troops from 7 Division of Nigerian Army stationed in and around Maduguri, the Borno State capital, successfully repelled a multi-pronged attack launched by Boko Haram from various fronts including Malwa Damboa, Mafa among others.”
He added that “the situation in Adamawa showed that Nigeria military are making remarkable success; many towns under Boko Haram presence have been liberated while towns like Madagali, Gulak, Wagga-mildo, Shelini Sambo-Gari and Gubia are still under Boko Haram presence. Other areas such as Kirachinga, Pallam and Mayo-Wandu have remained calm and peaceful.”
Explosions rock 3 court premises in Rivers
Meanwhile, explosions, yesterday, rocked three court premises in Rivers State. One of the affected courts was burnt down by fire.
The courts are in Port Harcourt, Degema and Isiokpo. The explosions occurred barely 48 hours after the national leadership of Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria, JUSUN, announced suspension of the eight-month old strike of the Rivers State chapter of the body in Port Harcourt .
National Publicity secretary of JUSUN, Mr Kayode Igbarago had last weekend in Port Harcourt declared suspension of the strike by the state chapter, saying it was a decision taken by the National leadership of the body.
Confirming the explosions that rocked the three court premises yesterday, the state Police Public Relations Officer, DSP Ahmad Muhammad said dynamite were hurled into the premises by unknown persons in the early hours of the day.
He said the explosives razed down the court in Degema, destroying valuables which included documents, adding that minimal damages were recorded at the court premises in Port Harcourt and Isiokpo.
According to the Police, the timely intervention of the Police reduced impact of the explosives in Port Harcourt and Degema.
DSP Muhammad said the Police had intensified effort to arrest those behind the attack on the properties.
“The Rivers State Police Command wishes to confirm that in the early hours of Monday 02/0/2015 coordinated attacks were launched on judiciary court premises at Degema, Isiokpo and Port Harcourt with explosive devices suspected to be dynamite by unidentified and unpatriotic assailants. Minimal damages were recorded in Port Harcourt and Isiokpo scenes without affecting the court building and documents while at Degema the court building was razed down and documents burnt. No life was lost. Areas are now under Police control while Police Bomb Disposal Unit has commenced discreet investigation in earnest.”
Scores of insurgents killed in Borno
Meanwhile, scores of suspected Boko Haram insurgents were again killed in Tungushe village of Konduga local government area of Borno state, when the terrorists attempted to invade the village with the intention of sacking over 1,000 soldiers stationed in the area.
Vanguard gathered that the attack took place less than 12 hours after the insurgents attempted to take over Maiduguri and were successfully repelled by the combined efforts of military, youth vigilante and residents, leaving hundreds of the insurgents dead on Sunday morning.
A resident of the area Mallam Ishaku Yerima said the insurgents who tried to invade the town were successfully repelled by soldiers stationed in the village, resulting in the death of scores of the insurgents.
Another resident, Mallam Abubakar Usman in a telephone conversation told Vanguard that “the insurgents came at about 5:00pm on Sunday and engaged the military in a gun battle, throwing explosives and Rocket Propelled Grenades (RPGs), but were successfully repelled by the soldiers resulting in the death of hundreds of terrorists.
“A lot of corpses of the insurgents littered the streets and the in the village, as the military seriously dealt with them. The military has done a good job,” Abubakar Usman stated.
He said: “If the soldiers will maintain this tempo, I believe very soon the Boko Haram insurgency will end as they were all defeated in all the recent attacks, while Cameroonian and Chadian troops were also doing a good job worthy of commendation.
A military source who does not want his name in print confirmed the incident, saying that “our men seriously dealt with the insurgents as over 100 of them were killed”.