• Panic in Enugu as securitymen arrest 21 suspected insurgents
…144 Abia travellers released, sponsor held – FG
By MOLLY KILETE, ABUJA, PETRUS OBI, ENUGU AND DAVID MOLOMO, YOLA
Boko Haram gunmen struck in Abuja yesterday, the third this year, killing 21 people while 21 others were injured, police said. They have been taken to several hospitals in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
Reports said the Managing Editor (North), New Telegraph, Suleiman Bisalla, was among the dead. This is even as 21 suspected terrorists were intercepted in Enugu State yesterday. The development created panic among residents.
In Abuja, the two suicide bombers came in a white vehicle at about 4pm at the popular Emab Plaza in Wuze area of the FCT. They were prevented from driving into the plaza by private security personnel stationed at the gate who insisted on searching the vehicle.
The driver was said to have refused to be searched by the security men and opted to park outside the gate. He and the other occupants were said to have come out of the vehicle after parking it and waited for sometime before the explosion occurred.
Most of the dead victims were women who sell banana and other fruits at the gate. There were also several others who sold other food items that died in the blast.
A trader at the plaza told Daily Sun that they were inside their shop when they heard the explosion. He said that the casualty figure would have been higher if the suicide bomber had been allowed to drive into the premises.
Also yesterday, there was an explosion in Adamawa State. It occurred at Mubi South Local Government Area. It claimed one life.The victim died near Kuturu Market.
Eyewitnesses said there was pandemonium following the explosion that occurred when a gas cylinder fell off a moving vehicle of a new generation bank, but police said it was a bomb planted by the roadside.
The command’s spokesman, DSP Abubakar Othman, said the bomb was planted by the roadside, noting that nobody died. The popular Kuturu Market is usually busy every Wednesday.
Meanwhile, there was panic in Enugu State yesterday when 21 suspects believed to be members of Boko Haram travelling to Kano with several military uniforms conceived inside a luxury bus were arrested at Obollo-Afor. Recall that about 486 Boko Haram suspects were arrested by soldiers in Aba, Abia State two weeks ago.
The Enugu suspects were intercepted by the National Task Force (NATFORCE) at Amala in Udenu Local Government Area .
They reportedly left Aba, Abia State at about 2pm for Kaduna and were intercepted in the wee hours of yesterday at a boundary community in Enugu State, leading to the northern parts of the country.
An army sergeant in Ohafia, Abia State is believed to have procured the military uniforms and may have hired the suspects for onward delivery to a corporal based in Kano for an undisclosed mission.
The sergeant whose identity could not be ascertained at press time, was said to have been on the illegal business for quite a while.
A police source said the bus was not fully loaded at Aba, but stopped over in Enugu to pick other passengers who unknowingly mixed up with the suspected insurgents to Kaduna.
But the Commissioner of Police, Adamu Abubakar, said that investigation will be carried out to authenticate the true mission of the 21 suspects.
“ I wouldn’t tell you we arrested people with arms or whatever but all that I know is that we have arrested some people and we did not say they are Boko Haram because people can speculate. For us, we don’t speculate until we investigate and after the investigation, we come up with the facts.
“We have arrested some people in Obollo-Afor and the matter has just been transferred to us from Obollo-Afor, but we have not yet gone into the facts of the case, the moment we get details, we will call you back or do a press release. People should know what is happening.”
At about 11.30 am yesterday, the suspects aged between 20 and 35 years were brought to the state police headquarters by the luxury bus accompanied by full military and police security escorts.
Meanwhile, one of the suspected sponsors of the 486 people travelling in 35 busses to Port Harcourt, Rivers State, but arrested in Abia State, had been identified by security agents.
Coordinator of the National Information Centre (NIC), Mr. Mike Omeri, who disclosed this at a press briefing on efforts being made to secure the release of abducted Chibok secondary schoolgirls and anti-insurgency war yesterday, however, refused to name the sponsor.
Altogether, “144 of the number have been released. It is expected that the media and the general public will be kept abreast of further developments. Importantly, one of the suspected sponsors connected with the package of the trip has been named and investigation is painstakingly continuing to unravel the issues involved in the incident.” Omeri stated.
He also debunked reports that about 60 women and children were allegedly abducted last weekend. Findings, he said, “indicate that there is nothing on the ground to prove any act of abduction as reported.
“It is on record that our findings were also corroborated by the position of the Borno State Government as conveyed by Governor Kashim Shettima, who said that there are no sufficient facts on the alleged abduction of 60 persons.
“We hereby wish to state that based on available facts before us, there was no abduction of 60 persons in Borno State,” he declared.
Thursday, 26 June 2014