Tuesday, 27 December 2011


Christmas Day bombings: Jonathan meets Sultan

On December 27, 2011 · In News
| 12:46 pm
ABUJA (AFP) – Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan met the country’s main Muslim spiritual leader Tuesday after Christmas Day attacks blamed on Islamists that killed 40, including worshippers as they left church.
The Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar, made no comment as he entered Jonathan’s official residence on Tuesday afternoon.
Muslim leaders have come under pressure to take a more active role in seeking to stop attacks by Islamist group Boko Haram, which claimed responsibility for the Christmas violence.
Sympatisers at the Suleja blast scene on Christmas Day.
The sultan’s Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs issued a statement condemning the attacks.
“Security agencies must fish out the perpetrators of these dastardly acts and make them face the wrath of the law, regardless of their status, so as to serve as deterrent to others,” the statement said.
The council added that authorities “also must take proactive measures to nip in the bud the re-occurrence of such dastardly acts before they happen in order to create a sense of security and safety in the citizenry.”
Nigeria has seen scores of attacks claimed by Boko Haram, but some analysts said the Christmas bombings marked a dangerous escalation in a country divided between a mainly Muslim north and predominantly Christian south.
The deadliest of the Christmas violence was a bomb attack at a Roman Catholic church outside the capital Abuja as worshippers were leaving a mass, with at least 35 killed there.
Jonathan, a Christian from the south, has faced major opposition in the north of Africa’s most populous nation


  1. Christmas Day bomb hits church near Suleja, Niger State: Over 20 feared killed
    On 25 December – Christmas morning – an explosion near a church killed at least 20 people, in Madalla, near Suleja, in Niger State. Madalla, largely a market town in Niger State, is about 30 km from the Federal capital city, Abuja.

    The blast went off near the St. Theresa’s Catholic Church. The Public Relations Officer of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Mr Yushau Shuaib, said the incident was a “suspected bomb blast” and that 10 persons had been confirmed dead. Local sources and other rescue workers initially reported 15 corpses being evacuated in three vehicles (ambulances), but feared the toll would be significantly higher. The French news agency, AFP, quotes a local priest, Father Christopher Barde, saying rescue officials told him they had counted 27 killed.

    While the rescue effort was underway, angry youths from the town set up bonfires and threatened to attack the local police station. One of the youths claimed the police had failed to provide adequate security. With the area degenerating into chaos, the vastly outnumbered policemen had to shot into the air to disperse the angry youths. They also barricaded the highway which runs through the town.

    AFP later reported that Abul Qaqa, a spokesman for the militant Islamist sect widely known as

    Boko Haram, had called on phone, claiming responsibility for the blast. AFP quotes the spokesman as saying: “We are responsible for all the attacks in the past few days, including today’s bombing of the church in Madalla. We will continue to launch such attacks throughout the north in the next few days”.

    Over the last few days, the army and other security forces had been battling members of the sect in Damaturu, Yobe State. The chief of army staff, Lt Gen Azubuike Ihejirika, told newsmen that soldiers killed 59 members of the sect and destroyed one of their major arms depots in Damaturu between Thursday and Friday.

    This is the fourth bomb incident in the area since this year, following three previous incidents in nearby Suleja – about 10 km away – and the second specifically targeting a church.

    On 3 March, an explosion went off at a People’s Democratic Party (PDP) rally, just after Niger State governor Babangida Aliyu had addressed supporters; at least 12 people were killed and about 20 injured. On 8 April, another bomb exploded at the local office of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Suleja, killing at least 13 people and wounding dozens of others, mostly young graduates who had been recruited as ad-hoc staff for the general elections. On 10 July, a third bomb explosion near two churches – the All Christian Fellowship Mission and the Faith Mission Church - killing three persons and wounding seven others

  2. NEMA ambulance crashes while rushing bomb victims to hospital in Abuja
    The crashed NEMA ambulance

    On 25 December – Christmas day - an ambulance conveying some victims of the bomb blast which occurred near the St. Theresa’s Catholic Church in Madalla earlier in the day, to a hospital in Abuja, was involved in a road accident.

    A statement by the Head of Media and Publicity at the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Mr Yusha’u Shuaib, said three officers of the agency were transferring 27 persons wounded in the Madalla blast, from the National Hospital to the State House Clinic, both in Abuja, when the ambulance crashed.

    The ambulance somersaulted after the crash, but information on the circumstances of the accident remains sketchy

  3. Foreign Reactions to Christmas Day Bomb Attacks in Nigeria
    On 25 and 26 December, the multiple bomb attacks which killed almost 40 people in three cities on Christmas Day, drew widespread condemnations from the international community.

    The attacks killed about 35 Christian worshippers just outside a church in Madalla, Niger State; a policeman in a firefight with suspected bombers in Jos, Plateau State; and four other people at the office of the State Security Service (SSS) in Damaturu, Yobe State. The militant Islamist group, widely known as Boko Haram, claimed responsibility for the attacks.

    Early reactions came from the United Nations Secretary-General, Mr Ban Ki-Moon; the governments of the United States, Turkey, Russia, Britain, Germany, France and Israel, as well as the Vatican.


    UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon said he condemned “in the strongest terms, the attacks targeting churches in Madala, on the outskirt of the Nigerian capital, Abuja and the north-eastern city of Jos, which have left many dead and injured”.

    The Secretary-General called, once again, for “an end to all acts of sectarian violence in the country” stressing that “no objective sought can justify this resort to violence”. He expressed his sympathy and condolences to the people of Nigeria and to the families who lost loved ones.


    White House spokesman Jay Carney said: "We condemn this senseless violence and tragic loss of life on Christmas Day. We offer our sincere condolences to the Nigerian people and especially those who lost family and loved ones." The White House statement said initial investigations showed the attacks were "terrorist acts" and pledged to help Nigeria bring those responsible to justice.


    A statement issued by the

    Turkish Foreign Ministry said Turkey strongly condemned the deadly bomb attacks. It said the attacks "saddened Turkey deeply and Turkish people share the sufferings of the Nigerian people and the government of the friendly country."


    Russian President Dmitry Medvedev expressed condolences to the Nigerian leadership on the heavy death toll of the attacks. In a telegram to the Nigerian government, Medvedev said Moscow “condemns the cruelty and cynicism of the crimes perpetrated”. He added that terrorism knows no boundaries and that Russia was prepared to actively cooperate with the international community in fighting off the threat posed by terrorists.


    French President Nicolas Sarkozy expressed "solidarity in [Nigeria's] fight against terrorism".


    German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle expressed regret that: "Even on Christmas Day, the world is not spared from cowardice and the fear of terrorism".



    UK Foreign Secretary, William Hague, said: "These are cowardly attacks on families gathered in peace and prayer to celebrate a day which symbolises harmony and goodwill towards others. I offer my condolences to the bereaved and injured".


    Israel "condemned in the strongest terms these attacks carried out on Christmas Day" and said it would send medical aid to Nigeria.


    The Vatican said attacking a church was "blind hatred" seeking to "arouse and feed even more hatred and confusion"

  4. President Jonathan condemns Christmas Day bomb attacks
    On 25 December, President Goodluck Jonathan condemned the multiple bomb attacks earlier in the day, in which over 35 people were estimated to have been killed. The attackers struck in three cities – Madalla (Niger State), Jos (Plateau State) and

    Damaturu (Yobe State), specifically targeting churches in most of the attacks.

    In a statement, Jonathan called the bombings "a dastardly act that must attract the rebuke of all peace-loving Nigerians".

    He said: "These acts of violence against innocent citizens are an unwarranted affront on our collective safety and freedom. Nigerians must stand as one to condemn them". Jonathan said his government "will not relent in its determination to bring to justice all the perpetrators of today's acts of violence and all others before now".

    The Minister for Police Affairs, Captain Caleb Olubolade, a former Navy officer, had earlier visited the scene of the Madalla blast and was quoted to have said that: "This is like an internal war against the country".

    The latest attacks follow a military offensive mounted against the sect around Damaturu in Yobe State three days earlier. The Chief of Army Staff, Lt Gen Azubuike Ihejirika, had briefed newsmen that soldiers killed 59 members of the sect and destroyed one of their major arms depots in Damaturu on 22 and 23 December. Ihejirika said the clashes also left three soldiers dead and seven others wounded

  5. Christmas Day Bomb Attacks kill over 35 in Madalla, Jos and Damaturu
    Cars burnt by the Christmas Day blast in Madalla
    On 25 December – Christmas Day - bomb explosions in three cities – Madalla (Niger State);

    Jos (Plateau State) and

    Damaturu (Yobe State), left dozens dead or wounded. Some estimates said the blasts killed over 35 people.


    In Madalla, a market town near Suleja in Niger State, a powerful explosion near the St. Theresa’s Catholic Church killed about 30 people and wounded more than 50. The blast destroyed or seriously damaged several cars, with some of the occupants burnt inside.

    Security sources said the explosion occurred after members of the militant Islamist sect,

    Boko Haram, threw improvised explosive devices (IEDs) from a moving vehicle. Some sources report that the attackers threw the explosive after failing to gain access to the church during the Christmas morning service.

    A spokesman for the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) put the casualties at 16, but local residents and other rescue workers said the toll was significantly higher. The French news agency, AFP, quoted a local priest, Father Christopher Barde, as saying rescue officials told him they had counted 27 bodies.

    Some of the wounded were rushed to hospitals in the Federal capital, Abuja, for treatment, but died before getting there. Madalla is about 30 km from Abuja.


    In Jos, the Plateau State capital, two blasts targeted the

    Mountain of Fire and Miracles church, as some young men reportedly threw bombs at the building. No one was killed by the blast, but a police officer was mortally wounded, after security operatives engaged the attackers in a gun battle. The officer was rushed to the Jos University Teaching Hospital (JUTH) for medical attention, but died of his wounds.

    After the firefight, the attackers fled into a crowd, but the Police arrested four suspected persons. Military and other security personnel also recovered and disabled some explosive devices at a nearby building.

    The blasts mark the second Christmas that bombs have hit Christian houses of worship in Jos. Five churches were attacked in the city, on and around Christmas Day 2010, with dozens killed. Boko Haram later claimed responsibility for the attacks.


    In Damaturu, capital of Yobe state, a State Security Service (SSS) building was attacked by a bomber. Sources said a suicide bomber seeking to run his car into a military convoy in front of the agency’s office, killed himself and three security agents. Only hours earlier, on Christmas Eve, an explosion had targeted a church in Gadaka, a town near Damaturu. Local sources said many people may have been wounded, but there were no figures of any casualties.


    The National Security Adviser to the President, Gen Owoye Azazi (rtd), in a statement, blamed the attacks on the militant Islamist sect, Boko Haram. The statement said: "The latest mindless and cowardly attacks by Boko Haram members, specifically directed at churches, were pre-meditated".

    AFP later reported that a Boko Haram spokesman, Abul Qaqa, had called on phone, claiming responsibility for the blasts. The news agency quoted the spokesman as saying: “We are responsible for all the attacks in the past few days, including today’s bombing of the church in Madalla. We will continue to launch such attacks throughout the north in the next few days”

  6. Sylva condemns bomb blasts, cautions against retaliation
    Yenagoa—Governor Timipre Sylva of Bayelsa State, yesterday, described the Christmas day bombings in parts of northern Nigeria as “a senseless criminal behaviour by enemies of humanity.”

    He pleaded with patriotic Nigerians not to be provoked into reprisal actions.

    In a statement in Yenagoa by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Doifie Ola, Sylva said, “These blasts on Christmas day, targeted at innocent worshippers, are condemnable in every sense.

    “This is a senseless act of violence by enemies of humanity. It is strange to the Nigerian character, and does not honour any faith or tradition. All men and women of conscience in Nigeria must condemn this callousness and contribute their various efforts to the collective task of stopping the mindless terror campaign.”

    Sylva commiserated with the bereaved families, the Church in Nigeria, and others.

    Though the governor acknowledged that tempers were rising as a result of the dastardly acts of extremist elements, he implored Nigerians to resist the temptation of retaliating.

    He said: “We should not be provoked into revenge and wasting of more lives by this senseless bloodshed by enemies of humanity. We should rather join hands with the Federal Government in the effort to isolate and stop the perpetrators.

    “This is a time to stand together, faith with faith, nationality with nationality, and culture with culture, to confront this growing threat to our nationhood and common humanity.”

    The governor called on security agencies to intensify their intelligence efforts with a view to nipping such terrorist attacks in the bud.