As the political capital of the Northern region, Kaduna state is very vital to the region, such that the region shares in anything that affects the state. The economy, people and social life of the state has endured in the last year following spate of bombings and explosions that have put the residents in perpetual state of fear, confusion and panic. ABDULRAHEEM AODU reports on the impacts of the multiple explosions on the people in the last year.
Beyond being the capital of the North, Kaduna state is also central to the region and hosts many of its political, economic and social structures. Because of its position and liberality, people from other parts of the country found home in the state and contribute their quota to the economic and social development of the state.
However, the state has suffered series of communal clashes in the past including the 2011 post presidential election crisis, but the people have always picked up the pieces of their lives and move on with their businesses without rancour.
Since 2010, there have been series of bomb explosions in other parts of the region, but Kaduna has been devoid of any such serious dastard act until the residents were jolted from their belief of being secured and seemingly insulated from bombings, when the state recorded its first fatal heavy explosion on December 7th 2011 at the Ori Apata automobile spare parts market.
Since then, four more powerful explosions amidst several other bomb scares and detonated Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), have shown residents that Kaduna state just like any other state in the region nay in the country is not safe from the long arm of Boko Haram.
Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), the umbrella socio-cultural organisation of the North usually stage most of its events in Kaduna where it is based especially with the centrality of the state. Thus, ACF scheduled its conference on peace and security for the state in the first week of December 2011.
The conference among other things aimed to kick-start the return of peace to the seemingly emasculated Northern region following months of bomb blasts, explosions, ethno-religious violence and intertribal conflicts and general insecurity which has almost brought the region, formerly a standard bearer of peace in Nigeria during the days of late Sardauna, Sir Ahmadu Bello, to its knees.
The presence of top Northern elite including Vice President Mohammed Namadi Sambo, Senate President David Mark and Speaker House of Representatives Aminu Tambuwal and 12 Northern governors including representatives of those who could not attend, proved that there is no alternative to peace and security thus further imprint the imperativeness to find them at all cost.
Barely a day after the Arewa Peace Conference ended in Kaduna, the uncertain peace enjoyed by residents of Kaduna state was shattered when a bomb detonated by suspected suicide bombers ripped the air, rocking the ancient city to its foundation, killing 14 people including two children and leaving several others injured in its wake with the popular Ori Apata automobile spare parts market left in bits and pieces.
The explosion threw the city into turmoil and agony and destroyed several properties on the popular Dan Musa road including 12 houses and 11 shops, stocks of auto spare parts and other merchandise worth several hundreds of millions of naira. It also threw the state into anxiety, gloom and mourning.
The then commissioner of police Kaduna state, Ballah Nasarawa and the Coordinator of the Kaduna state security outfit, Operation Yaki, Col. Mamman Dangana (rtd) expressed shock, sadness and condemnation of the blast, which they both described as a sad one.
As the state was recovering from the initial explosion and the residents were beginning to put their lives back on course, the bombers struck again. This time some military formations in the state including the headquarter of the 1 Division Nigeria Army and the Nigerian Airforce (NAF) Base along Mando road were the target.
On Tuesday, February 7th, 2012, suspected suicide bombers attacked two military establishments in Kaduna, causing pandemonium all over the town.
According to an eyewitness, a suicide bomber drove a Toyota Sienna SUV car laden with several containers of substance suspected to be Improvised Explosive Devices and other inflammables through the gates of the 1 Div Nigeria Army, refusing to stop when flagged down by the security men on duty, when all of a sudden the bomb exploded.
Unconfirmed reports said the bomber and two other military men were killed in the explosion, but the then Army Assistant Director of Public Relations 1 Div, Lt Col. Abubakar Edun while confirming the explosion said, “we are on top of the situation.”
The other bomb that exploded around the Air force Base, however recorded no casualty though some people sustained several degrees of injuries. Reacting to the explosion, the Command Public Relations Officer, Nigerian Air Force, Kaduna Training Command, Squadron Leader Mohammed Ali said, “the bomb exploded outside the premises of the Air Force Base though close to our gate and as such, the Air Force does not have opinion on the explosion as it wasn’t within our premises.”
As if that was not enough, the palpable peace in the state was shattered a week later when another multiple bomb blast ripped the air killing a police officer who attempted to defuse an explosive device found in a polythene bag few hundred meters away from the Sultan Bello Mosque at Ungwar Sarki bus stop turned terminal.
On February 14th 2012 barely a week after double explosions by the Jama’atu Ahlil Sunna Lidawati wal Jihad rocked military formations in Kaduna state, the city was again thrown into mourning as another double explosion hit the city killing a member of the anti-bomb squad, Sergeant Sunday Badang and leaving three other people injured.
The explosions came barely 24 hours after a government official in a government car was shot at by soldiers on duty in front of Sir Kashim Ibrahim Government House Kaduna for flouting security rules.
Blueprint investigations revealed that the two bombs believed to have been triggered by remote controller, were placed inside polythene bags and planted a pole apart by an unidentified motorist(s), who stopped to place them at intervals one at the base of an electric poles after the Ungwar Sarki junction just before the overhead pedestrian bridge along the road to Kawo.
Then on April 8 2012, the serenity of the Easter Sunday was tuned to gloom when Kaduna suffered perhaps its most devastating bomb explosion. Following almost two months of respite, a suicide bomber reportedly using a Honda Hennessey detonated a powerful bomb on the popular Junction road by Sardauna Crescent killing over 30 people and injuring more than 30 others.
Barely three weeks later on Thursday April 26 2012, the Kaduna office of Thisday Newspaper situated along Kotangora Road by Ahamdu Bello Way, came under attack. In what seems to be a coordinated attack on the media house’s offices in Abuja and Kaduna, a suspected suicide bomber who was later apprehended, detonated a bomb within the premises of the building killing three people and leaving 25 others injured.
The Commissioner of Police Kaduna State, Mr. Abubakar Jinjiri Mohammed confirmed that three people lost their lives and 25 others sustained various degrees of injury from the bomb explosion at the building that houses Thisday, The Moment and The Sun newspapers.
As residents of Kaduna state enjoy palpable peace ahead of the 2012 Democracy Day, their fervent prayer is that the peace will become extended forever.
Government, it has taken some steps to address security in the state by heightening its weekly security meeting and has also placed a nine hour ban on motorcycle operation in the state from 9pm to 6am.
In Rigasa however, because of its peculiar situation, the ban was from 6pm to 6am.
Government believed thorough enforcement of these bans coupled with the military roadblocks in the state and alertness of the police and other security agents would restore peace and return the state to its previous blissful state.
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