Barely 24 hours after a former minister of defence Gen. Theophilus Danjuma tagged Yobe as a failed state, gunmen have killed about 56 persons during a reprisal attack on a cattle market in Potiskum, Yobe State.
The incident was said to have occurred on Wednesday night while cows and shops were reportedly burnt during the attack.
Associated Press (AP) also reports that the gunmen set off explosives and fired on the cattle market.
But the commissioner of police, Yobe State command, Mr. Moses Namiri, put the number of the dead at 34.
“I have counted 56 bodies at the morgue and I am sure that the death toll could rise in view of the serious nature of injuries sustained,” the nurse at Potiskum hospital, who gave his name as Babangida, said.
“The Potiskum mortuary is made up of a room and a parlor and I counted the 56 in the parlour only. I didn’t go into the inner room.”
LEADERSHIP reliably gathered that the incident occurred when suspected robbers numbering about three invaded Potiskum cattle market in Potiskum Local Government area in an operation that lasted an hour.
The robbers, who were said to have carried out their attack with sophisticated weapons reportedly attacked an office of the Sarkin Tike where the cattle merchants usually kept money.
Commenting on the matter, the police public relations officer in Yobe, Mr. Toyin Gbadegeshin, said that “at about 18.00 hours, gunmen using assorted rifles and explosive devices attacked the cattle market in Potiskum. Over 20 explosive devices and assorted guns were used in the attack on the market.
“As at now, we cannot ascertain the number of casualties but there were deaths and some of those wounded are receiving treatment”.
Gbadegeshin said the police recovered one AK-47 rifle from the scene of the attack.
Meanwhile, in apparent reaction to the lamentations of Nigerians over the security situation in the country, the European Union (EU) has admonished that it would be an act of cowardice to succumb to terror.
Giving the advice at a media luncheon in Abuja, yesterday, the EU ambassador and head of delegation, Dr David MacRae, vowed that the Union would help Nigeria to make sure that terrorists did not get the upper hand.
He said, “We will not be intimidated. Terrorism will never defeat us. Together we will face up to this. We will do all we can to tackle this scourge.”
The envoy pointed out that terrorism was a global phenomenon and pledged that the Union would give Nigeria the benefit of its own experiences.
To demonstrate that EU was not frightened by the security challenges in parts of the north, he disclosed that a team from the Union was in Maiduguri to assess areas it could be of assistance even as there were ongoing EU projects in Kano, Jigawa and Yobe.
However, MacRae noted that much as the Union was not scared of terrorism in any form, it would not deliberately take avoidable risks.
The envoy conveyed the condolences of the Union to the media houses and Nigeria on the bombings that took place recently at This Day, Sun and The Moment newspapers, adding: “I would like to reiterate the EU’s absolute rejection of all forms of terrorist acts and violence. There is a need that those responsible for such crimes are arrested and brought to justice.”
MacRae further said, “It is encouraging to note that, in the face of this unprovoked and unwarranted aggression, the media has remained stoic and focused, vowing never to be cowed into impotent silence by the marauding forces of evil.
“The resilience demonstrated by the media should inspire others in these dire times. The EU will continue to support Nigeria as it explores ways to ensure that innocent citizens are protected, while a lasting solution to the prevailing security challenges is worked out.”
We’ll overcome security challenges – IGP
The acting Inspector-general of police, Alhaji Mohammed Abubakar, said that, very soon, the insecurity threats posed by the Boko Haram sect will be a thing of the past.
The police boss, who was on tour of Imo State yesterday to rub minds with the various stakeholders declined to disclose the magic wand up his sleeves to tackle the menace but assured that they were receiving a great support from the federal government.
He further disclosed that, already, the police have procured 28,000 walkie-talkies to aid members of the force for effective communication.
Earlier, while addressing, the police formation in Imo State, he said that an arrangement had been concluded by the Imo State governor, Owelle Rochas Okorocha, to buy more vehicles and communication gadgets for the police in the state to combat the insurgence of kidnap and other related crimes bedeviling the state lately.
Negotiation: Datti Ahmed lied – Jonathan’s aide
The principal private secretary to President Goodluck Jonathan, Hassan Tukur, has faulted the claim of Boko Haram negotiator Dr Datti Ahmed over who scuttled the peace talks between the federal government and Boko Haram, calling the claimant, Mr. Ahmed, as malicious and untruthful with an agenda far from promoting peace.
Datti, a famous Kano-based medical doctor, influential Islamic cleric and leader of the nation’s sharia council, was appointed by Boko Haram leadership to lead negotiations on its behalf with the federal government.
He pulled out of the talks in a dramatic way accusing the administration of bad faith amidst press leakages of the parley with federal government delegations.
Ahmed had on Monday granted a controversial interview to the Voice of America (VOA) placing all the blames for the botched talks on the laps of Hassan Tukur, a career diplomat, experienced negotiator, and current principal private secretary to the president.
But in an interview with VOA monitored in Abuja yesterday, Tukur portrayed Mr. Ahmed as a bungling peacemaker, a showy publicity-seeker, and mere dilettante who probably does not even believe in peace talks.
Tukur stated: “In actual fact, Datti Ahmed did not present the facts right. He was only guessing. This is because when four of them met with the president, I was not in the country. On my return, the president told me that he would be sending the group to come and meet with me.
“When we met, I told them to produce a list of those who have contact with Ahlis Sunna (Boko Haram) and produce a blueprint on how to negotiate peace with them. They never showed up again.
“Actually they never told us those who have direct contact with Boko Haram among them and they had no idea of how to negotiate. Suddenly they came out in the media with this claim that a top government official had disclosed the initiative to the press.
And what he said was that he had been chosen to negotiate with Boko Haram. In actual fact, nobody appointed him. He offered himself as a negotiator but he had no contact with the Boko Haram.
“Furthermore, he did not mention the pressmen that the government official or I discussed his initiative with. Journalists have names and newspapers have names and he never mentioned any of those. I think he only made a mistake.
“In this dire situation that this country is facing, I think it is incumbent on each and every Nigerian, especially of northern descent, to make concerted efforts in quelling any problem in this country.
“But this line which Datti Ahmed decided to toe, to accuse some phantom government official of being the one against his move to negotiate with Boko Haram, is ill-advised and un-Islamic.
“Besides, I thank Allah that I have served government for 32 years and at least people know who I am: principled stand on issues, sincerity, and fearless disposition to matters, no matter whose ox is gored. Whoever knows me knows where I stand on issues.’’
Insecurity: Reps condemn security agencies
For their inability to reduce the rising spate of bombings and general insecurity across the country, the House of Representatives has condemned security agencies for their laxity.
Observing a minute’s silence in honour of all those who died in recent violent crises on Thursday, including victims of the robbery incident at the Potiskum market in Yobe State where three persons were reportedly killed, it observed that most of the recent violent attacks by the Boko Haram sect were occurring in areas still under the state of emergency proclaimed by President Jonathan.
Debating the issue which was raised in a motion sponsored by Hon Ali Yakubu on the Potiskum incident, the lawmakers urged the military and other security agencies to rise up to their responsibilities of securing the lives and property of innocent Nigerians.
Meanwhile, nine bills seeking to give legal backing to the nine new universities established by the federal government also scaled through second reading in the House of Representatives.
Leading debate on the general principles of the nine bills which were consolidated, leader of the House Hon Mulikat Akande-Adeola explained that much had been done with regards to funding of the new universities, especially with the introduction of the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFUND) and the N1.5 billion take-off grant to each by the federal government.
Lending support to the bills, minority whip of the House Mr Samson Osagie, however, warned against the tendency to neglect the existing federal universities across the country.
North-West governors hold crucial meeting in Kaduna
The insurgencies of the Boko Haram sect yesterday forced the governors of the north-west geopolitical zone to an emergency meeting in Kaduna.
The meeting was held behind closed-doors at the Gen. Hassan Usman Kastina House popularly known as State House, with many governors in attendance.
Though details of the meeting were not disclosed to journalists, a source at the meeting told LEADERSHIP that the emergency meeting dwelt on security issues.
The source said, “Yes, the governors met at the State House. It was an emergency meeting as the issue of security brought them together. They met and discussed extensively on how to get out of the present insecurity situation the region has found itself in.
“The governors are concerned about issue of insecurity that has continued to pose a threat to our national unity. The meeting would also proffer solutions on that, among other issues.”
Meanwhile, a top security intelligence officer yesterday told LEADERSHIP that there was a plan to unleash terror on three northern states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja.
The states to be attacked by a terrorist group, according to our source, included Yobe, Kano and Kaduna.
He said, “The group, which had given 24 hours, had already attacked Yobe and they would carry an attack between Friday and Sunday, according to the information we have.”