No fewer than 60 worshippers were killed and 68 others injured as twin-bomb explosions which bore the unmistaken signature of the Boko Haram terror sect on Tuesday rocked a mosque in Mubi, Adamawa State, North-east of Nigeria while the worshippers were holding the Zuhr (afternoon) prayer.
Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the recruitment of 6,000 additional policemen as part of fresh measures to address the nation’s security challenges including the farmers/herdsmen clashes across the country.
The president dropped the hint in a special interview session with Voice of America, Hausa service, in Washington, United States on Tuesday morning, reported the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).
According to the accounts of two local residents who attended funerals of the victims as reported by the AFP, the deaths toll is likely to rise as more bodies could be recovered from the twin bomb blast scene.
One of them, Muhammad Hamidu, confirmed that: “I took part in the burial of 68 people. More bodies were being brought by families of the victims.”
Another resident, Abdullahi Labaran, said: “We left 73 freshly dug graves where each victim was buried.”
Although the police spokesperson in the state, Othman Abubakar, a superintendent of police, gave an initial figure of 24 persons who died in the first blast which occurred at about 1:00 p.m; another eyewitness who claimed to be at the scene of the rescue operations said 31 bodies were counted.
Rescue worker Sani Kakale said: “In my presence, 42 dead bodies were taken to the hospital and 68 injured.”
A source at Mubi General Hospital told AFP they had “so far” received 37 bodies and dozens of the injured, many of them critically.
Although neither an individual nor group has claimed responsibility for the attacks, suspicion immediately fell on Boko Haram, the jihadist group whose quest to establish a hardline Islamic state in northeast Nigeria has left at least 20,000 dead since 2009.
“While people were evacuating the victims of the first blast, another explosion occurred,” Abubakar told PREMIUM TIMES.
‘’As I am talking to you now, 24 persons are confirmed dead. The scene has been cordoned off by the anti-bomb squad and other security personnel,’’ Mr Abubakar said.
Eyewitnesses had earlier reported that ‘’many lives were lost and several persons injured”.
The explosion was allegedly triggered by a teenage boy wearing a suicide vest.
Garba Habu, a local resident, said he counted over eight corpses at the scene.
‘’A boy of about 18-19 -years wearing a suicide vest was said to have entered the mosque along with other worshippers. Immediately after the prayers, he detonated the bomb,” he said.
Another resident, Isa Danladi, said he was about to leave his house near the mosque when he heard the blast
“Many people died on the spot and several others were taken to hospital with severe injuries,” he said.
“The mosque’s roof was blown off. The prayer was mid-way when the bomber detonated the explosives. This is obviously the work of Boko Haram,” he said.
Haruna Hamman Furo, head of Adamawa State Emergency Management Agency, described the blast as “devastating”, saying there were “high casualties”.
‘’It was a twin-blast and the detail is sketchy but we are in touch with our partners of Red Cross and others that are helping now.
“For now dead bodies are being evacuated and those injured have been taken to hospitals. Right now we are on our way to Mubi,’’ he said.
The insurgents briefly overran Mubi in late 2014 as they rampaged across North-east Nigeria, seizing towns and villages in a quest to establish an Islamic state.
The insurgents changed the town’s name to Madinatul Islam, or “City of Islam”, during their brief occupation period.
But it has been peaceful since the Nigerian military and civilian militias ousted them and recovered the town, which is a commercial hub and host of the Adamawa State University.
In recent months, Boko Haram’s activities had been concentrated in the far north of the state around Madagali, near the boundary with Borno State.
There have been repeated suicide bombings in the area, which lies close to the Sambisa Forest in Borno where the militants had a base.
Boko Haram fighters are also said to be hiding in the Mandara mountains in the east of Adamawa State and on the border with Cameroon.
The Adamawa State Head of Operations, National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Imam Ambani Garki, also confirmed the incident but said the agency has deployed personnel to ascertain the situation as the agency could not confirm the number of deaths.
He said it has been for a long time such an incident has occurred and NEMA is making effort to respond quickly to the situation.
Mubi has been repeatedly targeted in attacks blamed on Boko Haram since it was briefly overrun by the militants in late 2014.
Nigeria’s government and military have long maintained that the Islamic State group affiliate is a spent force and on the verge of defeat.
But there has been no let-up in attacks in the northeast, particularly in Borno State, adjacent to Adamawa, which has been the epicentre of the violence.
Last Thursday, at least four people were killed when suicide bombers and fighters attempted to storm the Borno State capital, Maiduguri, raising fresh questions about security.
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has been in the United States this week and met his US counterpart Donald Trump, who pledged more support in the fight against Boko Haram.
Nigeria has bought a dozen A-29 Super Tucano light fighter aircraft in a $496-million (413-million-euro) deal. Trump indicated a further order for attack helicopters was also in the pipeline.
“These new aircraft will improve Nigeria’s ability to target terrorists and protect civilians,” Trump told a joint news conference with Buhari in Washington on Monday.
In Mubi, local volunteer Habu Saleh, who was involved in the rescue effort, described the situation as “chaos all over the place”.
“We have evacuated dozens of dead and injured people to the hospital and the rescue operation is still ongoing,” he said.
Health workers from the hospital mobilised to attend to the victims, despite being on strike over pay and conditions.
Mubi resident Abdullahi Labaran said the first bomber mingled with worshippers who had gathered for prayers at the mosque at the edge of the market.
He detonated his explosives “five minutes before the prayer started”, he added.
The second bomber blew himself up among the crowds of worshippers, traders and shoppers who fled the mosque towards the butchery section of a nearby market.
On November 21, 2017, at least 50 people were killed when a suicide bomber blew himself up in a mosque during early morning prayers in the Unguwar Shuwa area of Mubi.
In October 2012, at least 40 people were killed in an attack on students housing in Mubi that was widely blamed on Boko Haram.
In June 2014, at least 40 football supporters, including women and children, died in a bomb attack after a match in the Kabang area of the town.
Buhari Orders Recruitment of 6,000 Policemen Nationwide
President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the recruitment of 6,000 additional policemen as part of fresh measures to address the nation’s security challenges including the farmers/herdsmen clashes across the country.
The president made this known in a special interview session with Voice of America, Hausa service, in Washington, United States on Tuesday morning.
President Buhari, who is in the U.S. on the invitation of the American President Donald Trump, revealed that additional security measures were being put in place to check cases of insecurity in Nigeria.
“We will put in place more measures to check insecurity in the country including increasing the number of policemen and train them.
“I have approved the recruitment of 6,000 policemen by the police authorities and I directed that those recruited must come from all the 774 local government areas of the federation.
“Even if it means recruiting one person each from the 774 they should do that instead of going to motor parks, railway stations or market for the recruitment exercise.
“I gave (Police authorities) them this directive,’’ he said.
The president, who expressed reservation on the call for the establishment of state police as being advocated by state governors, said Nigerians must abide by constitutional provision in regard to the matter.
The Chairman, Nigeria Governors’ Forum, Governor Abdulaziz Yari, had in February said creation of state police would help in addressing the spate of insecurity in the country.
Yari, who is also the Zamfara State Governor, said this at the end of a two-day summit organised by the Senate Ad hoc Committee on Review of Current Security Infrastructure in Nigeria.
He said: “Today we have reiterated the position of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.
“And the position of the security summit we held in August, that there is a need for the state police; we can say it is the only answer.”
However, President Buhari maintained that the creation of state police would not augur well for the finances of the states, adding that some of them were finding it difficult to meet their financial obligations to workers and other state needs.
“We must carefully look at the position of the nation’s constitution on the issue of state police before we take final decision on the matter if the constitution allows state police so be it.
“But don’t forget that many times the Federal Government gave out what we referred to as bail out to state governments for payment of workers’ salaries. How many states can pay salary promptly? and you want to add more financial burden to the states.
“It is not proper to employ a person, train him on how to handle weapons and then refuse to pay him – you can imagine what would happen in such situation,’’ he said.
Lazy Youths Controversy, Media Creation
On his purported comment on youth while in London, President Buhari dismissed the report, saying that the media only preferred to interpret and report what they like instead of concentrating on developmental journalism.
He said: “You know Nigeria’s population is now between 180 and 190 million and 60 per cent of this population is youth that is 30 years down ward.
“You know in the North most youths are uneducated or school dropouts. If not because we had good harvests in the last two farming seasons the situation would have been deteriorated.
“These youths even if they travel out of the North for greener pasture they hardly make it economically because what they earn as income cannot afford them to meet their basic needs or return home.
“All these explanations I made, they refused to highlight them in their report and you know the media in Nigeria in most cases only do what they like.
“For instance the nation’s achievements in the agricultural sector where millions of Nigerians benefitted financially were left unreported by the media.
“Even when the Minister of Information and Culture wanted to reply that abusive letter written by former President Olusegun Obasanjo, I had wanted Lai not to reply the letter but I said I should allow him to highlight the achievements of our administration.’’
President Buhari also used the opportunity to debunk the insinuation that Christians were being killed by herdsmen.
He said that clashes between farmers and herdsmen had been in existence for the past years, saying that Nigerian herdsmen were not in the habit of carrying dangerous weapons while moving their animals around the country.
On what he does during his leisure time, President Buhari said he hardly listened to music but rather always obeyed his doctors’ advice on the need to eat and have enough rest.