Jaji Blast: Death Toll Rises To 15

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Air Commodore in critical condition

• Group Capt’s wife, pastor, choristers among deceased
Death toll in Sunday’s
twin-bomb blasts at St. Andrew’s Military Protestant Church, Jaji, Kaduna
State, has risen to 15 and many of the injured still in critical condition.
This is coming just as some northerners yesterday kicked against Joint Task
Force, JTF, bounty of N290m million on suspected leaders of Jama’atul Ahlis
Sunnah Lidda’awati Wal Jihad, popularly called Boko Haram. They said the ransom
could generate more crises in the region.

A senior military
officer, Air Commodore Alechenu Ekagbo, has been confirmed to be among the
victims. National Mirror learnt that the military officer, whose official
residence is about 15 metres away from the scene of the incident, is in
critical condition at the 44 Army Reference Hospital, Kaduna.

The church is located
inside a military base, the Armed Forces Command and Staff College, Jaji. A
close family member of the officer narrated that Ekagbo was at his residence in
the Brigadier Quarters when the bomb exploded near his house. Ekagbo, who is
also the Director of Air, Jaji, was said to have gone into a coma and was
rushed to the hospital.
“We thought he was dead
until we got the news this morning (yesterday) that he is still alive but in
critical condition,” the source said. An army source, who confirmed that the senior
officer was a victim of the incident, hinted that the military authorities had
concluded plan to fly him abroad for medical treatment. As at yesterday,
military authorities were yet to release an update on the number of causalities
in the blast.
One of the survivors,
Mrs. Mary Ibrahim, who is currently receiving treatment at St. Gerald Catholic
Hospital, Kaduna, confirmed the death of a student pastor, simply identified as
Israel, who preached on that day.
She said: “We were
inside the church doing rehearsal for next Sunday’s harvest thanksgiving.
Suddenly we saw a car coming into the church premises heading towards the
Chaplaincy Office. “Suddenly, we heard a blast and I saw many dead bodies on
the ground in the first explosion.
“Pastor Israel, who preached
on Sunday too died while the wife of the Resident Pastor, Capt. Adamu, was in
bad condition on the ground too. Her husband was recently transferred to
Maiduguri. About seven of my fellow choir members died and were on the floor
during the first attack. “The second bomb happened at the church gate when
everybody was rushing out; many people died too. I was not unconscious but
seriously injured.”
National Mirror gathered
that five commandants in charge of the military formation were summoned the
Chief of Army Staff Conference in Asaba, Delta State, to Abuja for explanation
on how terrorists gained entrance into the base with security blanket at the
gate.
Other rank and file on
duty post during the incident are still being detained, facing interrogation.
The Commandant, Armed Forces Command and Staff College, Jaji, AVM Abdullahi
Kureh confirmed that the death toll of Sunday blasts in Jaji, Kaduna had
increased to 15.
Kureh confirmed this to
Governor Patrick Yakowa yesterday when he visited the site of the attack in
Jaji, Igabi local government area of Kaduna State. He condemned a situation
where people who went to pray to God to give us peace were attacked by another
group, saying that security had been beefed up to forestall future recurrence.
Kureh decried the spate of attacks witnessed in various parts of the country,
adding that no meaningful development could be achieved without peace.
On his own part,
Governor Yakowa commiserated with the family of the victims, describing the
incidence as an act of “terrorism or religious extremism aimed at destroying
the country.”
He condemned the attack
at the command, saying that people expects that the Command, as a premier military
institution, should have solution to the insurgency bedeviling the nation,
rather it was attacked. Yakowa stressed the need for a synergy between all the
security agencies, traditional leaders, and other stakeholders to arrest the
situation.
He directed that all
government installations, as well as civilians should be properly guided
against any attack. The governor urged the perpetrators to lay down their arms,
embrace peace as the government was ready to dialogue with them.
Yakowa said the state
government and the military would assist the victims to enable them recover. It
will be recalled that 11 people were on Sunday killed in a twin bomb blast. The
apex northern socio- political organisation, the Arewa Consultative Forum, ACF,
has suggested that the Boko Haram sect should contact Saudi Arabian government
to facilitate the proposed peace dialogue. The group also said the price tag
placed on the sect’s leaders would generate reactions.
ACF spokesman, Mr.
Anthony Sani, said: “Although the JTF price tag will generate reactions from
the sect, they should embrace dialogue as the only viable option to addressing
their concerns towards peaceful coexistence.
“One way they can
achieve this is to lay down their arms, approach their chosen Saudi authorities
to play some roles in any constructive engagement between them and the Federal
Government. “If the Saudi Arabia government accepts to play any role, they
would naturally link up with Nigerian authorities.
“Our heart goes to those
who lost loved ones in Jaji military church bomb explosion,” ACF said. In their
reaction, a pan- Northern youth group, Arewa Youth Forum, AYF, while rejecting
the price tag on Boko Haram, alleged that powerful elites are bent on
destroying the region. AYF President, Alhaji Gambo Gujungu, called on northern
governors and other stakeholders to find urgent solution to the insurgency,
adding that the Federal Government was insincere over the proposed peace
parley.
“The price tag on Boko
Haram is a disgrace to Nigerian Army. This shows clearly that the Army is
incapable of handling Boko Haram insurgency. The way things are going,
government is not ready to end the insurgency. “This latest security move shows
there is problem in our security intelligence gathering.
“They are using Boko
Haram to destroy the North. There is a plot to destroy the region by some
powerful elements in the country. “It is a block of political interest.”
President, Fellowship of Churches of Christ in Nigeria, also known as Tarrayar
Ekklisiyar Krista a Nigeria, TEKAN, Rev. Emmanuel Dziggau called for state of
emergency in Borno and Yobe states for the military to sanitise the terrorists
hub states.
“This is what former
President Olusegun Obasanjo did in Jos, Plateau State while in power. We are
not calling for the sack of these governors but they should step aside to allow
military to cleanse the whole states. Then the elected governors will come
back. If government declare state of emergency in some local governments it
will not work.” He dismissed the reward on Boko Haram, stressing that security
should embark on intelligence gathering to nail its leaders.
Source:
National Mirror

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