St Theresa Catholic Church Madalla dastardly terrorist incident of Christmas Day 2011
Madalla: Suicide bomber did it -Church security officer
By IKENNA EMEWU and IHEANACHO NWOSU, Abuja
Tuesday, December 27, 2011
Just a day after the dastardly incident of Madalla St. Theresa Catholic Church that claimed scores of lives, Daily Sun can exclusively reveal the unknown details of the act. That real fact hitherto known or reported until Daily Sun encountered a survivor of the attack who narrated the inside is that the bombing of the church was a suicide act. Mr. Francis Raphael, a lanky dark man, who incidentally is the head of the internal security system of the church could be the luckiest in the incident because he was standing just beside the agent of death when he struck. In a chat with him with the tell-tale bandages, injuries and dressings all over his clean shaven head, Mr. Francis gave the graphic details of how after the church must have dismissed sometime between 7.30am and 8.00, he as the head of the security working with two policemen, an Inspector and another of lower rank, manned the crossing of the worshippers on the busy Suleja-Madalla road.
“While I stood they are the first to get to the side of the road because we donít allow members just run across the road after dismissal to avoid any problems, I spotted a flashy gold-coloured Toyota Camry coming in from the Suleja end. The police Inspector tried to flag the car down so that the worshippers would pass, but he could not stop. At a point, the junior police officer also made efforts to stop him and he still refused to. He was possibly buying time to wait for more persons to come to the road side and possibly to come nearer the front of the gate of the church.
“It was during this drama with the policemen that I stepped out to the road and tried to prevail on the car driver to stop while our members passed. So at this moment, he totally pulled to a stop and I had a feeling he meant well. But immediately the crowd advanced towards the road, he quickly did a sharp turn, opened his car at full blast instantly and ran into the crowd. At the point of his carís impact with the crowd, it exploded, and there was flame everywhere. Because I was standing by the side of the car, I just jumped to a side and fell far from it. From there I crawled for some metres almost blind because terrible impact that looked more like a dream dazed everybody. As I ran, blood from the injuries on my head had already covered my entire face. So I just managed to run farther into safety. And because of the position of the two policemen who stood at the direction he turned before ramming into the crowd, two of them died. With the impact of the explosion which you see the extent of damage it did to the buildings far away and how the car got blown up into flames, there is no doubt that the driver of the car died in the act. What I canít say for sure is whether he was alone in the car or with any other occupant. “With my position and location at the time of the incident, nobody living knows this story more than myself, and nay other version of the story you hear from any other source other than what I have said is like hearsay. I know there are various parts of stories told about what happened, but they are not quite true. What is true is what I have told you.”
On whether the bomb was planted under a parked disused vehicle by the roadside in front of the church as was earlier told, Raphael said emphatically that there was never such abandoned car anywhere around the church. “It is possible the car people mistook for a vehicle abandoned and in disuse is the Mercedes Benz car of a church member who parked by the roadside while mass was on. It wasn’t an abandoned vehicle. We never allowed anything like that around here because of past experiences.” Raphael said last year at the end of the year vigil, his men found some men who intended to come into the church posing as members but had knives and other harmful weapons on them. “After that experience, we beefed up security at the church and even deployed body scanners to frisk people before they get into the church. That was why we started having police guard in the area whenever we had activities. So there was no information to us particularly of an impending attack that made us bring policemen because it has always been so, he said. The church security operative noted that the figure announced either by the press or government agencies as the injury toll of the incident is false and far from the reality. “Quote me anywhere as someone who stood there when the crowd of members surged out the bomber ran into them the casualty list is in scores. My brother, so many people died, and it sounds ridiculous to say there were about 30 or less deaths in the incident. I really fault that figure and from the story i have told you, you can know that the bombing was targeted at the church and someone possibly must have been around communicating with that suicide bomber to let him know when the church dismissed and the crowd was out for maximum impact.”
Why Boko Haram bombings persist –ACN
From TIMOTHY OLA, Maiduguri
Tuesday, December 27, 2011
Photo: Sun News Publishing
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The Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) has accused the Federal Government of wasting valuable time and resources on the meaningless fuel subsidy debate while neglecting the Boko Haram crisis that has continued to consume the lives of innocent citizens.
In a statement issued in Lagos yesterday by its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, a day after dozens were killed in a seemingly coordinated attacks across three states, the party said if the government had spent half of the resources it had devoted to the fuel subsidy issue on the Boko Haram crisis, and had organized as many consultations with stakeholders on Boko Haram as it had done on fuel subsidy, the crisis would have been resolved by now and hundreds of precious lives saved.
“There is no point in mincing words: This government has got its priorities wrong and has acted in a manner that suggests total disregard for human lives. Or how else does one explain a situation where citizens, including security agents, are being hacked down daily by the Boko Haram insurgents and all the government is doing is to waste time and resources on the phantom fuel subsidy issue?” ACN queried.
The party said, for the umpteenth time, that the only way out of the Boko Haram crisis is engagement, as it should by now be crystal clear to all advocates of force that no amount of force can crush the insurgency.
“The engagement must be preceded by a meeting of national stakeholders on security, which will harness the experience and wisdom of key people, including former heads of state, traditional and religious leaders, as well as past and present security and intelligence chiefs in seeking a lasting solution to the problem. We have called for these measures, on at least two occasions, in the past and we hereby reiterate them, as the government’s approach of using force has failed woefully, while citizens continue to die,” it said.
ACN also said it was time for President Goodluck Jonathan to show leadership and emulate his predecessor, who showed rare courage by engaging the Niger Delta militants through the very successful amnesty programme, after all attempts to crush the militants failed.
“For now the Federal Government has got the diagnosis of the Boko Haram wrong, which means it is basing its solutions on a wrong premise. Though some will have us believe otherwise, the Boko Haram crisis is a reaction to some perceived acts of injustice and corruption, which makes it a social and political crisis rather than an ethnic or religious one. Some even see it wrongly as a North-South-South agenda.
“It is also important to learn a lesson or two from the resolution of the militancy in the Niger Delta. While the Niger Delta militants complained of massive neglect of their communities, impoverishment of their people and destruction of their flora and fauna, the Boko Haram insurgents have raised the issues of injustice, poverty and corruption, and the extra-judicial killing of their leader and members.
“All that a courageous leadership needs to do is to see which of the demands of the insurgents are reasonable and can be addressed to usher in peace, while ignoring the demands that are clearly unreasonable.”
After all, the amnesty did not address all the grievances of the Niger Delta insurgents, but has helped to reduce militancy to the barest minimum.
“Those who say no reasonable government will talk to terrorists are not being realistic. They have forgotten that the Boko Haram people are Nigerians first and foremost. Secondly, nowhere in the world has force succeeded in crushing an insurgency. Thirdly, even if force succeeds in the interim, achieving lasting peace will require dialogue. It is therefore important that we seek an alternative to the use of force in resolving the Boko Haram crisis,” the party said.
sIt also criticised those who were saying there was no one to act as a middleman in engaging the Boko Haram people, saying the government should use as conduits for peace those who have links to Boko Haram, instead of criminalising, arresting and killing them as it is presently doing.
ACN advised leaders to stop making inflammatory statements, and security chiefs to stop boasting about the exploits of their men fighting Boko Haram, adding that such statements could only attract reprisals.
The party also advised the government to worry less on the so-called international dimension to the Boko Haram crisis, saying all indications were that the insurgency was home grown, and that once it was addressed, the so-called international influence would be cut off.
Meanwhile, ACN had strongly condemned the senseless bomb attacks on Christmas Day, in Madalla town, in Niger and Jos in Plateau State, which left many dead, saying no grievance in the world could be justified by the killing and maiming of innocent citizens.
“We urge those behind these killings to sheathe their swords and take the path of dialogue to resolve whatever their grievances may be,” the party said.
I don't usually cry but today I wept
26 Dec 2011
‘I don’t usually cry but today I wept with my household of 5000 worshippers seeing some of our brethren bombed out of existence’
From Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja
The Parish Priest of the St. Theresa’s Catholic Church in Madella, a near-by town to the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), under Suleja Local Government Area in Niger State, Rev. Father Isaac Achi, has expressed shock at the Christmas Day bomb blast that claimed dozens of church devotees. The visibly shaken priest, who gave an account of the incident in an interview with journalists, described the blast as an “unfortunate carnage”. According to Achi, the bomb went off immediately after the 6am Mass and worshipers trooped out in their numbers to go home.
He said: “Immediately after the Mass was over and we had our final blessings, people were just filing out of the church before a heavy explosion occurred. We ran out and saw many people lying dead… some were burnt in their vehicles beyond recognition, while many other victims were critically wounded. Some victims who were rushed to the hospitals died along the way as they could not withstand the effect of the blast.
“It was an unfortunate incident. As the priest in charge of the church, I had instructed my assistants to encourage parishioners at the Mass at 6am to come forward to perform the symbolic well-wishing for ‘newly-born baby Jesus’ before final dismissal. As they came to greet the Child Jesus and collect a souvenir, they were delayed by the exercise and were saved from the bomb. So those who were affected were mainly those who did not wait to collect the souvenir. The others who were in church waiting to collect the baby powder were still on the queue when the blast occurred. “Apart from my church members who were leaving the church premises when the bomb blew off, there were also other passers-by and motorcyclists who were waiting to pick worshipers home who were caught up in the explosion. So many lives were lost in the bomb blast. The incident was so pathetic in many ways. For instance, there was a case of two families that lost almost all of their members. One of them lost all but one member of the family, a young girl in her teen years, Nancy Chidimma Francis. For the other family, the father and his four children perished, leaving the wife who did not come to church with them to tell the gory story.” The priest called for prayers from all and sundry to bring an end to the orgy of senseless killings that is fast engulfing the nation. He also expressed gratitude to the officials of the Suleja council and the Niger State government for their response to assist in evacuating the victims of the Christmas Day dastardly act.
The chairman of the council, Mr. Yunusa Adamu, who addressed the media after consoling the priest, said the council and indeed the state government had accepted to take responsibility for the hospital bills of all the victims of the bomb blast. He also assured them that government would provide assistance to those who might have lost their property during the blast. Another witness of the blast and social worker at the church, Mr. Benjamin Ekwegbalu, also narrated his encounter on that day. He said the bombs went off as soon as the church service came to an end and worshipers were coming out through the exit gate.
According to him, security men at the entrance of the church were controlling traffic to make way for people when suddenly the bomb exploded and raised a lot of dust and a thick cloud of smoke which enveloped the entire area causing serious panic. “I heard a big bang and I saw thick black cloud cover up the whole place and there was fire burning all over the place and everybody was running helter-skelter,” he said. He further said there were countless bodies of victims scattered all over the church premises. Ekwegbalu said the blast was so devastating that some victims’ body parts were flung on top of the church roof from where rescue workers had to climb to retrieve them. THISDAY captured a great outpour of emotions from worshipers and residents who expressed shock at the level of casualties recorded in the bomb blast. As one of the worshipers, Mr. Chike Ezeani, told THISDAY, the number of the dead at the blast could be beyond 30. He said as one of the volunteers who helped in the rescue efforts, he was able to count about 30 dead bodies of those who died instantly minutes after the blast, while a good number of others were said to have died on their way to receive medical care. Another survivor said he was saved by the new-born baby powder which he waited to collect along with his family.
“I was about to leave the church when my wife called me back to join them to see the ‘Child-Jesus’. As I made my way to the altar, I heard a deafening noise which shook the foundation of the church Building. There was a great panic and I saw one of the dead victims beckoning for help moments before he slumped and died,” he said.
We Watched as Horror Unfolded’
26 Dec 2011
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Mercedes Benz V-Boot
Witness accounts said a Mercedes Benz V-Boot with three men inside had tried to drive into the St. Theresa’s Catholic Church premises when some security operatives who are usually on patrol on Sundays in Madalla resisted their entry. “When they were pulled out of the vehicle for interrogation, they started running. Some of us outside the church chased after them until they were overpowered and one of them was killed during the scuffle while the other two were handed over to the police. In between this confusion, the explosion occurred,” stated a resident of Madalla. But a soldier, who with his colleagues and was trying to reconstruct what really happened, said a Nissan Serena bus was thrown from the road into the church premises. The car with registration number BJ 695 NSR (Centre of Commerce-Kano State) showed a Detonator 33 cable, which the soldier identified as the primary force of the explosion connected to a fertiliser, which formed the secondary detonator, leading to the heavy explosion that dug a wide hole in front of the church premises. “The impact could not have been anything but devastating if you know how powerful a D33 is,” he said, quite authoritatively. Chika Nnawuihe, a parishioner of St. Theresa’s, said on a normal Sunday, he reluctantly wakes up from his bed to attend the 6am Mass and the same thing happened yesterday when his two children and their mother were up for the Mass. He had prepared to leave when the deadly explosion shook the entire vicinity. He said: “I rushed out in search of my children and discovered that the wave of the explosion had thrown my son Chidera to one corner of the church but he had minimum injuries, while his sister was unhurt. “Now what I am saying is that the information came yesterday and we saw the security men take position without bomb detectors. What could it have cost government to have these detectors and any equipment that can defuse the bomb? “Nwanyi Salad (the woman that prepares salad) lost her two children who are between 10 and 12 years. Her husband is the church warden. They lost their twins to the blast.” Ugochukwu Mgbemene, a businessman and landlord in Madalla, was equally downcast although he did not lose any member of his family but Mgbemene said he was sad because so many of his neighbours at Rock Avenue, who left for church in the morning, had not returned. “We fear they are all dead. The Gwayi or Koro of Madalla are good people and we have never had problems living with them but it is their Northern brothers who come here as settlers that create all these problems. As I am talking to you, a meeting between the indigenes and their emirs is going on and the people are sad, very, very sad,” he said. Mrs Chinyere Iheme’s home, which was several streets away from the church, was among the many homes in the vicinity which though still erect may no longer be habitable. With shattered glasses, cracked walls and roofs that had been pulled off, and most of the household equipment destroyed, Iheme whose husband was away said she was home with her five children when the explosion occurred.
“My son Godsfavour fainted after the explosion but he has been revived. As it is, we cannot live here for fear of this building caving in on us,” she said. Among the shattered buildings were the one housing Chinotech Computers and Philimon Hotel, while the St. Barnabas Church next to St. Theresa’s escaped the fury of the goon squad. The Grail Movement Information Centre, a combination of modern and Islamic architecture with a dome and cross at the apex, which was a few meters away from St. Theresa’s, escaped the quake of the explosion. A man told THISDAY that this was not the first time this was happening. “This is our first bomb blast and we are at loggerheads with the DPO. Three months ago on a market day, these people struck and killed four Igbo and one Yoruba after they failed to recite the Quran. An old man who was able to recite it was left unhurt. Tell the leaders of the land, if something is not done, more havocs would occur. They should come into Madalla because we believe those who caused this havoc live among us,” he said.
Rev. Fr. Isaac Achi, who is in charge of St. Theresa’s, lamented: “My assistant Father Christopher Barade Jatau had nothing but the message of love, peace and joy for a distressed world. I believe the Feast of Nativity is all about love for thy neighbour. We sent forth our parishioners to the world with this message. Many of them who are yet to travel waited for this message. They waited to receive their final blessings before travelling. That was why we had a full congregation in spite of the holidays. That burnt vehicle you see there was a man and his four children. His wife could not come to church. Now she has no husband and all her children are perished. Today, we lost many pregnant mothers and little children.” Added a security man: “that building you are looking at collapsed on a pregnant woman, whose remains were have just been retrieved.” Outside, the angry crowd wailed and made a bonfire in the nearby market. Men and women rolled on the bare floor refusing to be comforted but the Army, Police, Red Cross and NEMA were ready to combat another ensuing crisis. An observer said this was not the first time Boko Haram, which he claimed was being shielded by a Muslim cleric in the town, was attacking and killing the residents of Madalla. “Some people were killed here some time ago and the DPO said it was armed robbers until it was proved beyond reasonable doubt that these people were not victims of armed robbery. Government has to do something fast,” he lamented as a helicopter tore the air as it made its aerial surveillance with the angry and badly wounded crowd cursing them for providing “medicine after death”. Police shot into the air to disperse them and closed a major highway. Emergency officials called for more ambulances as rescuers sought to evacuate the dead and wounded.
Jonathan: Boko Haram won’t last forever - Tambuwal, PDP react
Written by Nuruddeen M. Abdallah, Muideen Olaniyi & Turaki A. Hassan Monday, 26 December 2011 05:03
President Goodluck Jonathan yesterday described the bombings in the county as a burden Nigerians must live with until it fizzles out.“The issue of bombing is one of the burdens we must live with. It will not last forever; I believe that it will surely be over,” he said when he received in audience a delegation of the Christian Community in FCT led by FCT Minister Bala Mohammed.
In a statement in Abuja later yesterday, the president condemned the blasts at the St. Theresa’s Catholic Church, Madalla, Niger State; Jos, Plateau State; and Damaturu, Yobe State.
“These acts of violence against innocent citizens are an unwarranted affront on our collective safety and freedom,” the President said in a statement by his spokesman Reuben Abati. “Nigerians must stand as one to condemn them.”
He added: “I want to reassure all Nigerians that Government will not relent in its determination to bring to justice all the perpetrators of today’s acts of violence and all others before now.”
Also, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, has urged Nigerians to eschew violence and work towards building bridges of understanding.
In a message of condolence to the victims of the Christmas Day blasts, through his spokesman Imam Imam, the speaker said the cases of insecurity witnessed in various parts of the country would soon be a thing of the past.
He said the House of Representatives, will work closely with other arms of government to ensure that the country is more secured in the future.
The PDP also yesterday condemned the spate of bombings that claimed several lives before and during this period of Christmas celebrations.
The party, though its National Publicity Secretary, regretted the loss of lives and properties in what it called ‘senseless carnage which no doubt has brought untold hardship, pain and sorrow to all the people affected during this period that Nigerians are supposed to celebrate Christmas’.
How I lost four children
Written by Abbas Jimoh Monday, 26 December 2011 05:01
Mr Emmanuel Obiukwu, a hired taxi driver at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, in tears, told our reporters that he lost four children and that his wife and daughter are at the emergency ward of the National Hospital.
He said, “I am finished, I lost four of my children and the fifth one is on danger list with her mother here, they were blown off with my car.”
Another member of a family, Mr. Uchenna Simon, said his mother-in-law, Mrs Ucharia lost her life in the blast and that his younger sister had her leg blown off, while two of his family members were still missing.
Another lady, who refused to mention her name, said her daughter and an elder sister were seriously wounded in the blast.
She was overheard sympathising with someone who reportedly lost his five children, all boys at the blast scene.
Minister of State for Health, Dr. Muhammed Ali-Pate and former Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) chairman, Malam Nuhu Ribadu were among other Nigerians who came to National Hospital to commiserate with the victims of the blast.
As at the time of filling this report, 25 injured victims and 14 corpses were brought to the National Hospital, with an Army Ambulance, with registration number NA 1744 B05 and FRSC ambulance, registration number RS 865 A01 brought in the corpses, while NEMA, Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) and other vans and ambulances were used in conveying the injured, mostly children.
Family escapes Kano riots, loses 4 daughters in Madalla blast
• Father, 58, says he can’t find their corpses
From UBONG UKPONG, Abuja
Wednesday, December 28, 2011
Abuja-based businessman, Sir Emmanuel Obiukwu, lost four of his daughters in the Christmas Day bomb blast at the Saint Theresa’s Catholic Church, Madalla, Niger state. The man fled with his family from Kano State and settled at Madalla, following the insurgence in that state, where they almost died 20 years later.
Sir Obiukwu, 58, was sighted by Daily Sun at the National Hospital, Abuja, looking despondent and shattered as he went up and down in the hospital, and finally stopped at a point where his kinsmen, friends and church members, who had come to sympathize with him were gathered.
Daily Sun, sought to know why the crowd was gathered and discovered that it was about the calamity that had befallen Obiukwu’s family.
Obiukwu, who was very emotional lamented that since the incident occurred on Sunday, they had to no avail, gone from one hospital to the other, searching for the corpses of his daughters after ensuring the admission of their mother and sister, who survived the dastardly act.
Chioma Obiukwu, the most senior daughter and a University final year student, Ifeoma and Uchenna Obiukwu, twins and Chidimma Obiukwu, he believed, had all perished beyond recognition since he said that he watched them standing along the road right at the spot where the blast occurred, as they tried to cross over to enter the car after the mass.
“Since I left Kano because of the riot, I have not been happy but I said, this is a free land these Hausa people cannot make much problem because they like to kill any how, but here is a unity place, no problem it is safe. As I left Kano that was what I had on my mind, but this is really from fry pan to fire.
“We went for 6 O’clock mass at St. Theresa’s Catholic Church in Madalla. The mass dismissed at about 8.30 to 9 O’clock, so families were heading for home.
People were at the road there directing movement; I was in front of the church. Suddenly, by then my children and my wife had come, I gave them car key to go and board the car across the road. I told them to cross over to the car so that I could wear-off my church warden dress and go to drop them before I come back to officiate during the 10:00am mass.
“So as they were going, they wanted to cross the road and while I was coming out, I heard a thunderous sound and since I did not know where the sound was coming from, I ran in and hid myself behind one of the pillars. See dust everywhere, but as soon as I recovered from the shock because I was not hurt, I looked out and saw fire, see all those cars coming out from the church were just burning. My children had not crossed the road. So they were there when that bomb blasted. Four of them, I did not see them up till now.
“After admitting my wife and second daughter here on Sunday so that we know their condition before we start looking for the other ones, after their admission, we started going round the whole hospitals in Abuja, after that back to General hospital in Suleija, we could not see any person. So, I told my people, all the corpse we saw, they are beyond recognition, even the ones here, (National Hospital) because majority are here and Gwagwalada, they are beyond recognition.
“So I went there checking one by one, people I saw, I couldn’t recognize them, that is how we have been going round and round, no one up till now. It was that place they stood to cross the road that the incident happened, my car was blasted, if you go there, it is still there, so that was how I confirmed that they might have been burnt beyond recognition.
“We have not been able to recognize anyone that even resembled any of my daughters. The one we wanted to recognize at State House clinic, that had the size of my daughter, they were two corpses inside, they said the owners had already identified them because their mother and the other one are inside the other apartment of the mortuary. Those two were in the second apartment. They said that their owners had already come to identify them, because all of them were evacuated from one car, they got burnt inside the car as family. So that was how we left that place,”
Asked if he had given up the hope on their survival since their corpses were not yet identified, he said, nothing was impossible with God “I believe that they are gone because of the incident there, that was my belief but I still have hope. If God by miracle raises them from anywhere, I will accept, but for me as a human being, I saw the incident there, I doubt. They are gone.
Obiukwu is bitter about the loss and pains inflicted on him and his family, not because he was questioning the powers of God over death and life, but because the bomb blasts had become a recurrent issue in the country and he had lost his daughters because nothing was done to stop the bombings.
“President Jonathan should do something better because this is not the first, not the second, not the third. I am sure that more are coming. Jonathan should wake up and know what to do, that is my candid appeal to him. He should wake up,” he said.
Expressing joy that his entire family did not perish in the inferno, the Awka-Etiti, Idemili South, Anambra State man, said that his wife’s health was fast improving, believing God also for the other daughter, Chiamaka. He is also thankful to God that he and his son were not hurt, considering the fact that some families may have lost everyone to the same or a related blast.
We Can’t Live With This Burden
On December 28, 2011 • In Editorial
| 12:00 am
The security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government. – Section 14 (2b) of the 1999 Constitution
PRESIDENT Goodluck Jonathan does not realise the burden insecurity imposes on Nigerians. If he did, he would not have been encouraging Nigerians to live with it. The helplessness that his reaction to series of blasts terrorists used in marking the Christmas celebrations is another in the various ways Nigerians have been told their security was their business.
From “government was on top of the situation,” we have moved to utter helplessness, if we are to consider the President’s position. “The issue of bombing is one of the burdens we must live with. It will not last forever; I believe that it will surely be over,” he told Christian leaders who visited him on Christmas day. What a response to such a sensitive issue.
Ordinary Nigerians, without access to the security information government has, warned that the celebrations could be another occasion for bombers, as was the case last year. Text messages circulated about bombs on Christmas day. Government did nothing.
If security were important for government, no day would have been permissive for the type of carnage that has been going on in the country. Christmas day may be special to Christians, but a government that cannot protect its people should not have been expected to make special arrangements because it was Christmas. The point was that following the trend of bombings in churches, the security agencies should have anticipated Christmas was an opportunity for the terrorists to strike.
They did. The President offered no apologies about the repeated failure of government to protect the people. He had no assurance to offer Nigerians that he would end the senseless killings. All he sees is a challenge and he is asking Nigerians to live with it.
Few would be surprised about his response. It is not new. When the United Nations building was bombed last August, killing 19 people, the President said terrorism was a global scourge – the Abuja blast was Nigeria’s turn. We do not know what he intended to achieve with that statement, just as we are at a loss about his latest reaction.
Daily, there are incidents that point out the poor security situation in the country. The bombs are the latest. The frequency of their occurrence is a major concern. Government’s responses are at most lethargic, the bombers are exploiting it.
Security is too important to be treated in this off-handed manner. What message is the President passing on to Nigerians? How could he have suggested that we live with this situation for a minute longer? When is he planning to stop the terrorists?
Elsewhere, when nations are challenged, their leaders warned the terrorists and act quickly. Nigerians have been the ones taking individual measures to secure themselves. Without a firm response from government, the terrorists have become more daring attacking security agents
“I want to reassure all Nigerians that Government will not relent in its determination to bring to justice all the perpetrators of today’s acts of violence and all others before now,” the President said in a later press statement. The first reaction was a proper reflection of the President’s attitude.
Security summit, as being suggested, is not a solution. Immediate solutions are required. Government has enough suggestions in its files than a summit would produce. The bombers would not wait for a summit to decide their next action. Why should government wait?
Are security and welfare of the people still the primary purpose of government? The President can rate his insensitivity against the Constitution. He has constitutional and moral obligations to protect Nigerians. Is he concerned about his contract with Nigerians?
Madalla: Second Time Unlucky
28 Dec 2011
•Day five Christians were shot dead
From Nduka Nwosu, Ike Abonyi, Yemi Akinsuyi and Paul Obi in Abuja
Madalla was marked for death – as it were. Over three months ago, five Christians were killed by suspected Boko Haram members but the story went virtually unreported in the media and the police authorities kept it under wraps. But the Christmas Day bombing which claimed dozens of lives were too massive to be hidden.
THISDAY investigation has shown that on September 2, 2011, suspected Boko Haram members went to shops owned by Christians at a Madalla market around 8pm, ordering them to recite certain verses from the Quoran. Those who couldn't were shot and killed instantly.
The sound of the gunshots compelled Christians to call the police from nearby Suleja, and officers arrived to find that five Christians had already been killed.
The names of the victims were: Sunday Emmanuel, John Kalu, Uche Nguweze and Oliver Ezemah. The identity of the fifth Christian was not immediately known as witnesses could not identify him.
The issue of security lapse in the nation’s fight against terrorism popped its ugly head in the bombing of St. Theresa’s Catholic Church, Madalla on Christmas day.
A resident of Madalla told THISDAY that what was odd about the dastardly killing was the posture of the Madalla Police Station and the District Police Officer in charge of the station, Nurudeen Abdul, as well as an unnamed Muslim cleric he said was suspected of harbouring members of the sect in his cell.
“Some people were killed here sometime ago and the DPO said it was armed robbers until it was proved beyond reasonable doubt that these people were not victims of armed robbery,” he said.
THISDAY spoke with Abdul, asking for clarifications regarding the alleged posture he took when the killings took place. Abdul feigned ignorance of any such attack in the town. The discussion went as follows:
THISDAY: We gathered there was an attack on Christian traders in this town three months ago, specifically on September 2. Were you aware of this and how did your unit handle it?
DPO Abdul: I am not aware of any attack here. I have no idea of what you are talking about.
THISDAY: We understand five people were killed after being subjected to a recitation of the Holy Quoran, which test they failed. How true is this?
DPO Abdul: This sounds strange to me. Honestly, I don’t know what you are talking about. Some of the residents actually lamented and told THISDAY you claimed it was an armed robbery case, not a Boko Haram attack. How true?
DPO Abdul: I still insist no such thing happened and I am not in the know of this whole talk.
THISDAY: It was learnt you later succumbed to the truth that this was no armed robbery case as the goon squad left without carting away money or goods from the traders. Did this happen?
DPO Abdul: How can I know when I was not aware of it?
THISDAY: Abdul, who is from Kwara State, later said: “Human beings will say what they want to say but those we guard know us very well. Ask them or stay behind to see whether we are working or not. CP Ibrahim Moshane has been here as well as the ACP. The Minister of Interior has been here and we are receiving commendations. We will remain focused.” According to him, Rev. Father Isaac Achi will be in a better position to testify to the good works of the Madalla Police Station who patrol the vicinity night and day to keep the peace.
DPO Abdul’s response led THISDAY to the Assistant Commissioner of Police Greg Efele, who confirmed the incident, which he said was the handiwork of Islamic extremists.
Efele said the gang had disappeared before police arrived at the scene of action and no arrests were made.
Earlier, Richard Adamu Oguche, a spokesman for the Niger State Police Command in the state capital of Minna, confirmed that five Christians had been killed.
He was quoted then as saying that the attack was linked to members of the Boko Haram sect who recently bombed Christian sites elsewhere in Madalla.
Yet the DPO claimed ignorance.
Chika Nnawuihe, a parishioner of St. Theresa’s, was particularly irked because information came that there was going to be an attack that Sunday. The police were promptly informed and unfortunately when it happened, guns could not stop the bombs.
He said: “We had expected a thorough search of all those coming to church and even insisting that cars should be parked clearly at a distance from the church while taking position to identify who was a member of the church or not.”
More victims under critical conditions have been moved from hospitals in Niger State to the National Hospital, Abuja.
About 11 victims were yesterday taken to the hospital for proper medical attention.
Hospital sources told THISDAY that the victims were brought in from various health facilities around Madalla area and its environs.
Meanwhile, families and church members of St. Theresa’s have continued with the search of their loved ones, visiting one hospital after another.
A worshipper at the church, Emmanuel Obiukwu, whose wife was seriously affected, is still in search of four of their children. The fifth one, Chiamaka, was only found yesterday morning alive at the hospital.
According to Obiukwu, “I am still looking for four of my children. Since Sunday, we have been looking for them but we are yet to see them.”
Also, members of the Catholic Youth Organisation (CYON), the Laity Council and other groups in the church were seen searching for members believed to be involved in the bomb explosion that rocked the parish on Christmas Day.
Meanwhile, the Niger State Governor, Dr. Mu'azu Babangida Aliyu, has called on President Goodluck Jonathan to ensure that the sponsors of Boko Haram are fished out and dealt with, adding that it was high time a drastic action was taken.
Aliyu, who made this known when he paid condolence visits to the families of the victims of the explosion yesterday, said he hoped the nation's political leadership and security agencies would have the courage to take decisive actions against sponsors of the group in order to bring to an end the incessant bomb attacks across the country.
He also stated that it was time to declare to the sponsors of the perpetrators of the dastard acts, that ''enough is enough''.
“I pray that God will give Mr. President, all of us in leadership position and security agencies the courage to take the right decision and to declare to the sponsor of this dastard acts enough is enough," he said.
Madalla: Woman who lost 3 sons dies, 5 still missing
• Victims to be buried in church –Cleric
From IKENNA EMEWU, Abuja
Thursday, December 29, 2011
PHOTOS: Sun news Publishing
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The cleric in charge of St. Theresa Catholic Church, Madalla, Niger State yesterday exclusively told Daily Sun that the members of the church, who lost their lives in the Christmas bombing will be buried in the church premises. Revd Father Isaac Achi explained that the victims of that brutal bombing by Boko Haram were martyrs of the church and should be treated so with a decent burial in the church premises where they were killed.
He assured that arrangements were already on, with the authorities to release the corpses to the church at the right time for burial and insisted that must take place at the church compound. During Daily Sun routine call at the church, a member, who miraculously survived the attack pointed to a green Peugeot car parked at the opposite side of the road and said the owner, a woman, who he could not remember her name died yesterday from injuries sustained in the attack. He said the woman, who was also a member of the church was there with her three children expecting the return of her husband and her children’s father, when the bang dropped.
The three kids died instantly while the woman, who was injured was hospitalised. But two days after, she could not sustain the fight and therefore died. On the real figure of the victims, Father Achi assured that the church would soon make the list ready and as it had concluded the compilation of those they lost. He also explained that one of the injured victims died at the Gwagwalada Specialist Hospital yesterday while some others had been discharged.
But so far, there are five members of the church that are still missing. Their bodies have not been found anywhere either dead or alive. He said it would be difficult to know the exact number of the dead, especially his church members because some of the dead were blown in pieces, crushed and dismembered.
The cleric also lamented that the fear of the incident had scared away his parishioners from church and called on them to be of good cheer and believe in God that it would never happen again. Father Achi recounted an incident where the father of a member of the church last Monday developed instant high blood pressure on hearing that his son attended the memorial mass that day. He said the situation got so bad that a doctor had to be brought in to put the man’s health in check while a team was despatched to bring his son home.
The man’s pressure normalised after his son had got home in one piece. He sounded afraid that his members would possibly start shying away from church activities. He admonished them to have faith that the God they worshipped would not allow a repeat of the calamity that befell the church.
As Daily Sun left the Father’s office, there were two men standing outside the church hall shedding tears. The two, who are brothers of one of the victims of the blast explained that since Sunday, they had been combing every hospital and mortuary they could remember and just yesterday found the corpse of their elder brother, Mr. Onyebuchi Jonathan Obasi in the morgue of the National Hospital.
They came with photo of the man, who had been declared missing since Sunday. Obasi, 46, lived in Madalla and worshipped at the Catholic parish. His brother said that same morning of the incident, he had called his brother from Kubwa, where he lived to extend compliments of the season to him. But some two hours later, he, Cyracus Obasi was called to be told of the bombing. Since then, his brother’s body would not be located neither was he found alive until yesterday.
Madalla blast: Unidentified corpses litter National Hospital
…FG sets up committee, considers mass burial
From UBONG UKPONG, Abuja
Thursday, December 29, 2011
PHOTOS: Sun news Publishing
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Corpses of victims of the Christmas Day bomb blast at the Saint Theresa’s Catholic Church, Madalla in Niger State, perpetrated by the widely condemned Boko Haram Islamist sect, still littered the National Hospital, Abuja, with some of them being unidentified.
Consequently, the Federal Government has set up a committee to facilitate the identification of these corpses by their relatives, declaring that it would follow laid down procedures to ensure that those that were impossible to identify get a befitting mass burial.
Health Minister, Prof. Onyebuchi Christian Chukwu, who disclosed government’s position on the unidentified corpses yesterday, in Abuja, during his visit to the various hospitals where the victims were receiving treatment, however, said government would not conduct the mass burial hurriedly. He confirmed that 23 corpses were in the hospital. The minister who also announced that a committee had been set up to counsel the victims’ relatives, however, assured that all the corpses were well preserved pending when their relatives would come to identify them.
“As at yesterday, at the National Hospital, Abuja quite a number of them had not been identified. Of course, on Sunday, we went round to see corpses. Some families lost as many as five or six, so you may not even have anybody to go and identify these bodies but there is no problem, they are being well kept at the National Hospital.“Already, I’ve discussed with the management, a committee has been set up to counsel the relatives of those who survived the blast, there is need for psychological support for them, it’s very important. Also, for the identification of some of the bodies, not all the bodies have been identified, but we understand. So, a committee is in place to be able to do that in a smooth way so that families will be able to come and claim the bodies of their relatives.
“We will not hurry. Luckily, National Hospital has good facility for preserving the bodies. We will tarry a while. We will make announcements. You will help us as media to continue to announce. We are working with the security agencies and there is a procedure for burying those who are not identified. We will follow that procedure,” the minister stated.
He confirmed that 37 victims were admitted at the National Hospital, Abuja, out of whom 24 had been discharged and were now out patients, while 13 were still on admission.
“I’ve discussed with the management on the plans for their treatment and I am impressed with the plans. Most of them are even getting better almost achieving full consciousness,” he stated. The minister said a report by the Rapid Medical Emergency Response Unit of his ministry indicated that so far, they had identified 96 victims of that blast out of which 34 had been confirmed death. The minister also visited the State House Clinic and the University of Abuja Teaching Hospital (UATH), Gwagwalada, where one out of the 17 victims taken to the hospital later died and 13 of them were doing well.
Madalla blast: FCT Imams, Sultan’s rep visit bombed church
ON DECEMBER 29, 2011 • IN NEWS
| 2:30 am
BY OKEY NDIRIBE
ABUJA— The Committee of Imams of the Federal Capital Territory, alongside representative of the Sultan of Sokoto, Mohammed Saad Abubakar, yesterday paid a condolence visit to Rev. Fr. Isaac Achi, the parish priest of St. Theresa’s Catholic Church, Madalla, which was bombed on Christmas day by a member of the Islamic fundamentalist sect, Boko Haram.
The group, which was led by Imam Tajudeen Muhammadu Adigun, condemned the suicide attack on the church and deplored other acts of violence which had been perpetrated in the name of Islam in Nigeria and other parts of the world, emphasizing that such acts were a deviation from the teachings of the religion.
He said: “Islam is a religion of peace. May Allah continue to give us peace in our hearts, in our families and in our country.”
He further stated that the group had visited victims of the blast at the National Hospital, Abuja, and General Hospital, Gwagwalada, where they were receiving treatment, adding that the delegation felt it had a duty to visit the church and commiserate with the priest and other members of the parish over the tragedy.
Imam Adigun lamented that the attack was not only on members of the church parish but on the entire nation adding that even the car of a member of the delegation who was driving along the road on the day of blast was also affected.
Representative of Sultan of Sokoto, who is also the Chairman of Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, Alhaji Abdulkareem Muazu, spoke in a similar vein while conveying the Sultan’s condolences to the parish priest.
In his response to the remarks of Imam Adigun, the parish priest of the church, Rev. Fr. Isaac Achi, expressed appreciation for the visit by the group, adding that it was the first of its kind.
He said: “I want to sincerely appreciate that charisma in you which made you to say, let us go and pay the affected parish a condolence visit.”
He further stated that by taking this bold step to pay a condolence visit to the parish, the Islamic group had demonstrated that it was committed to the unity of Nigeria.
Said he: “We are one Nigeria; our country must remain in peace. Even those who are from Maguzawa who belong to Christianity and Islam are still members of the same family, not to talk of the South-Western part of the country where you have people who are blood relations belonging to two different religions.
“Two of my brothers are Alhajis and my sister is a Hajia but I am a Roman Catholic priest. If they decide to kill Christians tomorrow and they come across me, they can’t kill me because we are related by blood.”