FRESH violence in Plateau State yesterday led to the death of 20 people and the destruction of property as Berom natives and Fulani herdsmen clashed at the Barkin Ladi Local Council of the state.
And from the fundamentalist Islamic sect Boko Haram came yesterday what was far from a whimper of a cringing, defeated foe. It was rather an expression of a steely resolve yesterday as the sect vowed to attack the offices of political parties nationwide.
In the sect’s first public statement since the court convicted its alleged spokesman, Ali Sanda Umar Konduga, it denied any links with politicians and disowned Senator Mohammed Ali Ndume, former Borno State Governor,Ali Modu Sheriff and Konduga.
The conviction of Konduga on Tuesday was expected to weaken the sect. But from indications yesterday, that expectation is far-fetched.
Speaking in a phone interview with reporters yesterday at the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) press centre in Maiduguri, a spokesman of the sect, Abu Darda said: “What we have been reading on the pages of newspapers, are not true, because the State Security Service (SSS) is employing Ali Sanda Umar Konduga to smear the image and reputation of the sect by associating its activities and members with politicians and parties in the country.”
He said that the association of the sect with politicians and political parties was against Islam and the full implementation of the Sharia legal system in the 12 states in the North.
He said that to prevent further association of the sect with politicians and their parties, the sect would attack all political party’s buildings at the federal and ward levels in the North. It further warned that failure to revoke the agreements on renting out such offices could lead to the possible assassination of their owners by the sect before the end of this week.
The Special Adviser to the Plateau State Governor on Media, Mr. Pam Ayuba said that one Inspector of Police who was dressing for work at Barkin Ladi Police Division was shot dead in his house. A councilor, Pam Choji Pam, lost four children and his car to the violence.
Since the security agencies could not just shoot at people at random especially when the two warring sides refused to sheathe their swords, the Special Task Force (STF) immediately imposed a 24-hour curfew on Barkin Ladi until further notice.
A brief statement by the STF spokesman, Captain Charles Ekeocha, said the measure had become necessary in order to forestall further destruction of lives and property. “Lives have been lost. Houses have been burnt. The casualty figure and the number of burnt houses are not yet known. Residents of Barkin Ladi, by this curfew, are advised to remain indoors as STF has taken this measure to prevent further loss of lives and property,” he said.
Yesterday’s attack was a fall-out of the Sunday attack where about seven people were killed in Razat village of the same Barkin Ladi. There has been tension since that incident.
According to a resident in Barkin Ladi, “I saw armed civilians in the morning who mobilised themselves and stormed the town. They started burning houses and killing people they met on the road. I don’t know who the people are. But right now, Fulani people are mobilising themselves towards Gashish and Kurra Falls villages in Barkin Ladi. One Islamiyya school in Barkin Ladi, which belongs to the Hausa/Fulani, was burnt while about three churches were also burnt.”
The Commander of the STF, Maj.-Gen. Olayinka Oshinowo, the Commissioner of Police, Mr. Emmanuel Dipo Ayeni and other security chiefs have shifted their offices to Barkin Ladi. Cars and pedestrians going to the town were all turned back because of the curfew.
It was also gathered that the government’s project, African Training Centre (ATC) was nearly burnt by the hoodlums but were prevented while a mobile policeman was allegedly wounded in the encounter.
An eyewitness said that since Sunday, there had been an upsurge of indiscriminate stabbing of people leading to heightened tension. People were witnessing casualties being carried to the hospital, prompting questions as to where the dead were coming from.
According to the eyewitness, “on Wednesday, two people who rode on a motorcycle on Barkin Ladi Road shot at three passers-by, killing two and wounding one while a stray bullet hit a man who went to charge his cell phone nearby.”
Although the STF spokesman said that there was an uncountable number of burnt houses, the casualties were not as many as burnt houses. The Police Public Relations Officer, Assistant Superintendent Apev Jacob said that he did not have the details about what happened in Barkin Ladi because he had not been briefed.
But Ayeni said that “there is an emergency.”
Briefing journalists yesterday evening, Commissioner for Information, Mr. Yiljap Abraham, said that casualty figures were still being collated and would be made known at the end. He added that 60 arrested hoodlums had been brought to Jos, pointing out that the cause of the attack was still being investigated.
He disclosed that the Police Inspector who was killed was Dalyop Pinda.
Meanwhile, the trial of Shuaibu Abubakar and five others accused of complicity in the bombing of the Suleja Office of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has been adjourned till today.
At the resumed trial, a former suspected member of Boko Haram, Ahmed Hassan Ezimakor, revealed how he assisted six members of the sect to procure detonators and cables allegedly used for the bombing of INEC and the All Christians Fellowship Mission also in Suleja, Niger State.
Another witness, Mohammed Dalhatu also known as Zimbo also testified before Justice Bilkisu Aliyu that he procured the detonators and delivered them to Malam Shuaibu Abubakar who is the first accused person.
Under cross-examination, Malam Dalhatu, however, told the court that he did not know the purpose for which the detonators and cables were bought by Abubakar and the five other accused persons.
Eleven people, mostly National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) members died in the bomb explosion at INEC’s Suleja office on April 8, 2011.
Source: Guardian Newspaper