As more Nigerians deplored the activities of Boko Haram and the Federal Government’s response to the sect’s continued attacks, the Presidency says it will seek foreign nations’ intervention on its crackdown on terrorism when it is necessary.
The government said such intervention would only come after it had exhausted all the options it had evolved to curb the menace.
According to the Presidency, it is wary of rushing to foreign powers for direct participation in the campaign against terrorism because some of the nations, whose support might be needed, had predicted that Nigeria would break up in 2015.
This clarification came yesterday from the Special Adviser to the President on Political Matters, Ahmed Gulak, during an interaction with journalists in Abuja. He said the government had to study the conditions that might have informed such prediction to avoid working with the people and institutions in tackling the current security challenges.
Gulak said the huge vote for security in the 2012 budget was part of the steps the government had taken to fight terrorism head-on. He explained that the money would be used to equip the military and other security agencies, and recruit more personnel to match the nation’s growing population.
Meanwhile, the Catholic Bishop of Minna Diocese, Martin Igwe Uzoukwu, has described the bomb explosion at St. Theresa’s Catholic Church, Madalla in Niger State on Christmas Day as an act of terrorism against Catholic faithful.
He said more than 40 lives were lost in the explosion while several others were injured. The cleric said the injured persons were receiving treatments in hospitals in Suleja, Gwagwalada and Abuja.
At a press conference held inside the destroyed church yesterday, the clergyman called on the Islamic counterparts to condemn the Boko Haram sect.
The church also revealed the identities of its members killed in the blast as Anthony Okoronkwo, Comrade Dike A. Williams, Emmanuel Dike, Richard Dike, Lilan Dike, Linda Chioma Obinkwu, Uche Queenalin Obiukwu, Ifeoma Obiukwu, Ann-Chinedu Asigbadon, Chiemesi Nwachukwu, Cecilia Ebeku, Oluebube Fanstina Pius and Chidera Sylvia Pius.
Others were Florence Nwachukwu, Eucharia Ewoh, Joseph Daniel, Inspector Titus Eze, Obasi Jonathan Onyebuchi, Ehiawaguan Peter, Uche Esiri, Sgt. Kadiri Danjuma and five ‘unidentified persons.’
The casualty list showed that 27 victims were in the National Hospital, Abuja, 15 in Gwagwalada Specialist Hospital, three at Suleja General Hospital, one at Kwamba Major Hospital.
The Niger State government, which also yesterday gave an update on the blast at the church, said 38 lives were lost and 76 others wounded.
The government, which has set up a committee to investigate the extent of the disaster and advise it on possible assistance to the victims, said four churches, seven vehicles, and 36 houses were destroyed by the explosion.
Also yesterday, Muslim leaders and groups condemned the killing of innocent Nigerians by the Boko Haram sect.
They cautioned the militant group against painting Islam bad with the blood of Nigerians, noting that the religion abhors the shedding of blood under any guise.
Among groups, which condemned the attack were The Companion, Muslim Public Affairs Centre (MPAC), The Muslim Congress (TMC), Nasrul Lahi Li Fatih Society (NASFAT), The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC), and the Eternal Sacred Order of The Cherubim and Seraphim Church.
But the presidential aide said since Nigeria is a member of the international community, it would work with people and organisations, which have not only ideas but meant well for the country at this trying times.
He said: “When such a move is actually needed, the government will do a critical scrutiny to ensure that we do not aggravate the problem.
“This is against the background of what some people say from outside because the pictures being painted out there are different from the situation we have on hand. Some people have even said that Nigeria will disintegrate by 2015 and such statements coming from such quarters, we have to be very suspicious in dealing with the members of those societies. We have to also critically analyse what informed this type of statement and what are the plans to achieve or confirm it. Nigeria is not a failed state and is not at war. We are only passing through a phase of our life as a nation and the challenges are global. Globally, it is acknowledged that terrorism must be handled with caution and courage as well as huge resources.”
Gulak explained that the government in the 2012 budget gave “security the lion’s share because of the need to tackle security issues in the country by increasing logistics, personnel and necessary equipment.
“The number of security operatives we have in the country is not enough for the over 160 million population, we have a little over 300,000 policemen for 160 million Nigerians. The 2012 security budget is based on informed position that the country needs to equip the security agencies and increase the personnel to enable them tackle the security challenges facing the country.”
Gulak stated that government is already consulting with both Christian and Muslim leaders on how to keep the country together, adding that some people have been creating the impression that there is a problem between the Christians and Muslims.
Chairman of the Niger State Committee on Madalla Blast, who is also Commissioner for Local Council, Community Development and Chieftaincy Affairs, Alhaji Yussuf Garba Tagwai, told reporters in Minna that 86 people were receiving treatment in hospitals within and outside the state from injuries they sustained from the explosion.
Tagwai said a computation of the damage to other property was being carried out before a report would be sent to Governor Muazu Babangida Aliyu, for action.
“Government will ameliorate the suffering of the injured and those that lost their property,” he said.
In the statements they sent to The Guardian, the Muslim leaders said is a religion of peace and urged the bombers to abandon their deviant ways.
National Amir (President) of The Companion, Ahmed ’Tunde Popoola, described the massacre of innocent Nigerians by Boko Haram as “criminal, wicked and totally unacceptable to Islamic injunctions.”
MPAC said it was horrified and sickened by the cold-blooded murder of innocent worshipers on Christmas Day in the North.
The Director of Media and Communications of MPAC, Disu Kamor, said: “The targeting of worshippers is an abhorrent act which contravenes the principles of Islam, humanity and logic. The subsequent bloodbath was an incredible tragedy, which words fail to describe.”
Similarly, TMC declared the “endemic killings as inhuman, wicked, condemnable and totally unacceptable in civilised societies.”
Its leader Luqman AbdurRaheem, said: “The action is even more repulsive during the periods of celebrations. This criminal incident has once again challenged the Federal Government to be more vigilant, responsive and alive to its responsibility of providing security for life and property.”
The National Director of MURIC, Is-haq Akintola, said: “We are saddened and non-plussed by this complete lack of respect for places of worship and an incomprehensible and insatiable thirst for human blood. We strongly condemn this dastardly act. The attacks are barbaric, satanic and absolutely unIslamic.”
National President of NASFAT, Sheriff Yusuf, said: “NASFAT condemns this act of wickedness and terror against innocent Nigerians and the country and commit the perpetrators to the stern judgment of Allah. We further refute in strongest terms the reference to the suspected perpetrators as Muslims or members of an Islamic sect.”
A lawyer, Mrs. Funmi Falana, said President Goodluck Jonathan has not shown enough passion for the bereaved families.
At the end of the year party with the inmates of Erelu Adebayo Motherless Home in Iyin-Ekiti, Mrs. Falana described as saddened and unfortunate that the President did not wear any mournful look when he commented on the incidents.
The Eternal Sacred Order of The Cherubim and Seraphim Church has also condemned the bombing of churches by Boko Haram in the North.
In a statement, the Supreme Head of the church, Amos Akinsanya Akinde and its General Secretary, Kola Odunsi, accused the government of treating the violence with kidgloves and warned that national security is at risk.
The church however cautioned against retaliation from Christians.
By Muyiwa Adeyemi (Ado-Ekiti), Nkechi Onyedika, Lillian Chukwu (Abuja),John Ogiji (Minna), and Sulaimon Salau (Lagos)
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