Kaduna: How Easter Bombing United Christians, Muslims

The Easter Sunday Bombing in Kaduna State has come and gone, leaving the relatives and families of those who either died or sustained injuries in the blast in pains and agony. The explosion has no doubt created vacuums in some families that can never be filled. MIDAT JOSEPH and ISAIAH BENJAMIN periscope how this bombing that claimed the lives of many and injured scores, brought about unity between Christians and Muslims in the state.

Sunday, April 8, 2012 will no doubt remain indelible in the minds of many residents of Kaduna metropolis. This is because; the day marked yet another historic day in the state, though on the negative, as many who woke up to enjoy free day, were left with pains, and agony over the death of their loved ones. No thanks to whoever must have perpetrated such a dastardly act.

Like every other festive period, the Easter period is a period in which the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is being celebrated by the Christian faithful all over the world, but that of Kaduna residents was cut short as the entire state was thrown into confusion at the news of the bomb blast that claimed lives of persons whose authentic figure is yet to be ascertained.

Some of the affected persons woke up to commence their daily activities with others rushing to their places of worship, when they met their untimely death, Muslims and Christians alike.

Although the bomb blast was painful, it however, brought out a positive side of the situation as both Muslims and Christians were united against the act as they all moved to assist victims of the blast regardless of their religious differences.

Not only that, a day after the explosion, a group of Muslim and Christian youths hurriedly condemned the blast, saying “no good Christian or Muslim would want to kill people unjustly”, as the Muslim youths hosted their Christian counterparts to a feast to commemorate this year’s Easter celebration.

Performing the feeding occasion, the leader of the Muslim youths, Muhammad Shuaibu who expressed gratitude to their Christian brothers, called on international media organizations to desist from reporting issues that are capable of frustrating efforts being made toward returning lasting security and peaceful co-existence between the two major religions in the state and country at large.

“We want to also join our Christian brothers to condemn any form of violence and to advise whoever is involved to have a rethink.

“In addition, we will also want to use this forum to enlighten youths to understand the difference between politics and religion,” he said.

Speaking at the occasion, the chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Youth Wing, Obadia Haruna, said that the need for peace is non-negotiable, adding, “we must learn to live in peace with one another irrespective of our faiths.

He stated that more than 70 per cent of the victims of the bombing were non-Christians, calling on Nigerians to inculcate the spirit of forgiveness among themselves.

“We are gathered today to commemorate and to celebrate Easter with our Muslim brothers and to have a sober reflection on what we have done against each other in the past. What we are doing presently and what we will do in future will bring back the once peaceful co-existence between Muslims and Christians.

“Conflicts can never be resolved with violence; it is only dialogue that will bring peaceful resolution of our differences, because without peace, no meaningful development can be achieved.”

For many Christians who were victims of the bomb blast, their joy of the Easter celebration was cut short as many ended up celebrating the festive period in hospital beds and in pains.

The explosion which occurred at Junction Road by Sardauna Crescent in the heart of Kaduna city, left in its wake, pains and anguish as the moving Honda car which was between two other cars exploded, resulting in the loss of lives of many, including ‘Okada’ riders.

A survivor, Ibrahim Ismail (Na Annabi) recounts his ordeal: “Oga, it was God that saved me, it all happened in my very eyes. I personally saw 11 dead bodies. I carried two other persons who were terribly injured to 44 Army Reference Hospital, one of them could not see while the other person could not hear with his ears due to the deafening sound of the blast”.

According to those who were around the scene when the bomb exploded, the driver of the suspected suicide-bomber vehicle was trying to avoid head-on collision with an oncoming Okada rider when his car suddenly swerved, hit a culvert and went up in flames, affecting several other vehicles around.

“There was an Okada rider coming from Sardauna Crescent on a high speed. In order to avoid head-on collision, the suspected suicide-bomber’s Honda car swerved but unfortunately hit the pavement by the roadside and went into flames immediately.

The CRV Honda Jeep which was directly behind the blast car and the other vehicle in front of it caught fire immediately. It was like a horror movie.

“The sound of the blast was devastating, as the explosion rocked the foundation of the Kaduna metropolis. The blast could be heard from far distanced suburbs of Kaduna such as Malali, Sabo Tasha, Ungwar Sarki, Kawo, Trikania, Unwar Rimi and others,” some of the eyewitness said.

How can a dates seller, Abubakar Garba ever forget such day when he lost his brother and one of his hands to the blast as he recounts his ordeal at the hospital bed where he is currently receiving treatment?

“On that fateful day, I came to see my brother who also sells dates at the Sardauna Junction Road and all of a sudden, I heard a very loud sound and saw myself lifted high into the sky with my wheel barrow, landing with one of my hands cut off. I also lost my brother whom I went to visit to the blast.

Garba was quick to add: “May their sins reveal them”.

Nura Gwarzo, a 400 Level Mechanical student of Bayero University Kano, would have caused his decision to celebrate his Easter holiday in Kaduna even in death, if not for God that kept him alive in spite of the injuries he sustained.

He said in his hospital bed, “I normally come to Kaduna during the holidays to do ‘Okada’ business to be able to raise money before going back to school”.

Other survivors and families of those that lost their lives in the blast recounted their ordeals day after the explosion.

Malam Musa Adamu who is a commercial motorcyclist said: “I would have been blown up,” if not for the help of his passenger.

According to him, “there was a little traffic hold-up around the scene of the blast and I was trying to maneouvre my way, but a commercial bus just appeared from nowhere and blocked my way.

“It was while we were still waiting that the bomb exploded few metres away before us. Am grateful to Allah and my passenger, because I would have been a dead man by now,” he said.

Another motorcyclist, Dan Shehu who had a minor injury from the explosion said: “I watched my friend roasted to death and his motorcycle burnt beyond recognition while I retired to take breakfast from a tea vendor.

A relative of one of the commercial motorcyclists that was killed by the explosion said, only God will punish those behind these acts of bombing. “Just imagine all this, while he kept struggling with a hired machine until about a week ago when he finally bought his and we were happy, and all of asudden he has now been killed by this explosion”.

“Truly, only Allah saved me and the passenger that asked me to take her to Oriakpata about five minutes before, the blast. In fact, I almost fell from my bike when I heard the sound of the blast,” one Okada rider Danladi Abubakar said.

Amina Mohammed whose house was badly affected said: “The sound of the blast was terrible. I saw a lightening initially that I felt it was a transformer that blew off only to see our houses shaking, ceilings falling down, walls cracking, and my mother who was in the kitchen had to be dragged out because she was trapped.

“My younger brother’s friend that was in the house then sustained injuries resulting from the broken glasses that were flying. Our house is behind Fina White House Hotel that was severely damaged,” she added.

Henry Orihomi, Manager of Fedeco Hotels said, they were still trying to collate figures before they could arrive at the total cost of damages. He, however, mournfully said: “As you can see for yourself, almost everything in the building is affected, cracked walls, shattered the glasses and the all ceilings have fallen down. Shops that are in front of the hotels are badly damaged too.”

Some others said the suspected suicide bomber was on a mission to hit an unidentified church as Christians gathered for the Easter service, but luck ran out on him and got consumed in the blast before he could reach his target.

The explosion which consumed many innocent people occurred barely a week after the Boko Haram sect had warned the people and residents of Kaduna State to steer clear of military formations and other security agencies, buildings, such as the police and the state security service (SSS), saying: “We have concluded all arrangements to hit security agencies within Kaduna. We advise people residing close to police stations and Army barracks to relocate immediately to avoid shedding of innocent blood”.

The bomb blast would have killed more people if the suicide bomber who drove the explosive-laden vehicle had been allowed to gain entry into the Evangelical Church of Winning All (ECWA), located along Gwari Road, off Junction Road.

The church guard, Mr. Francis Markus, who escaped the attack told how he stopped the suicide bomber who came in a Honda Accord car and wanted to forcefully gain entry into the premises of the church.

Markus said the bomber, who could be in his 30s and was wearing a combat knickers and a T-shirt vest, had army uniforms in his car, giving the impression that he was a soldier. He was said to have insisted on having his way and kept arguing with the guard until some police officers deployed to the church came and drove him away.

Markus said the bomber insisted that he must go through the barricade, but was denied three times.

“Then he entered the car, reversed, and the next thing he did was to drive towards me and hit the iron used to block the road.

“As, we were arguing with him, the policemen drafted to the church saw what was going on, came over and requested to know what was happening which I explained to them.

“After a long argument, we finally managed to drive him away. It was about five to six minutes later that we heard a loud explosion just behind the church.

“The bomber spoke in English with me. He must be in his 30s – he was a young man and he was wearing a T-vest and knickers combat Jeans.”

The Kaduna State commissioner of police, Muhammed Jinjiri Abubakar, who spoke to journalists, said details of the attack were being compiled. “The situation report indicated that, today, 8/4/2012 at about 8:45hours, intelligent report received said two suspected vehicles were heading towards Kakuri/Sabon Tasha axis.

“The two vehicles were pursued by Detective Corporal Francis Marcus, and then suddenly one of the vehicles hit the other, thereby causing a serious bomb explosion on Junction Road by Sardauna Crescent in Kaduna,” he explained

While residents were still in shock over the explosion, one man whose name rings a bell in Kaduna had in a rare show of human kindness, a father who lost one of his children and the other critically injured in the Easter Sunday morning suicide bomb attack in Kaduna, has declared that he has forgiven the attacker who killed his children.

Alhaji Musa Haruna, the village head of Kabala Costain, and the victims’ father lost his son, Ibrahim Musa while another son,  Mohammed Aliyu Zakari, was critically injured during the attack. The prayer now is, let this unity translate into real peaceful co-existance for progress.

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