- Category: Politics
- Published on Friday, 04 March 2011 09:22
- Written by Daily Trust
- Hits: 2271
Ten people were reportedly killed and several others injured yesterday when an explosive device went off at a zonal campaign rally of the Niger State governor Mu’azu Babangida Aliyu of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Suleja, Niger State.
Saleh Sidi, a witness, said the grenade was thrown into the crowd from a vehicle passing by the school. “It was tossed over the fence and the object instantly exploded. Three people died on the spot while many others sustained major injuries,” he said.
“They hurled the explosive device shortly after Talba (governor) has finished his speech to the crowd that gathered. It actually exploded after the citation of the national anthem which marked the end of the event. The governor was propelled into his vehicle and driven away.”
The governor was unhurt and was immediately whisked to an undisclosed location as the grenade exploded on the ground of Government Secondary School, Suleja.
Sidi said most of the victims were hawkers selling carrots in wheel barrows, shoe shiners and a few bystanders. The intensity of the blast was relatively low and it created a narrow opening in the ground where the device landed.
A State Security Service operative said the intensity of the blast was less because the grenade did not hit any of the vehicles parked. “It would have created a chain of blasts from the vehicles which will have become more deadly,” he said.
Lawal Mohammed, a 10-year old beggar who was at the blast scene and sustained minor injuries, said he was together with a carrot hawker, who was also severely injured, when the explosion occurred. He said “an object in form of a ‘booby trap’ blew huge sand and I was hit by it. Some people took me to hospital where I was attended to.”
The Head of Medical Services at the Suleja General Hospital Okoye Chukwudi said three people were brought to the hospital dead from the scene of the blast and about 25 others “with both major and minor injuries”. Most of the victims have not been identified because “most of them are unaware of where they are.” The injuries included fractures, bruises and burns.
Emir of Suleja, Alhaji Auwal Ibrahim said the people behind the blast should be traced and be prosecuted. The state governor has pledged launch investigation that will ascertain the perpetrators and the police have begun investigation.
“It’s a tragedy the type of which has never occurred and the attitude people to politics must change,” he said.
The State Commissioner of Information, Aliyu Baba Barau said the state governor has directed the hospital authorities to provide free medical care to the victims. He said those with major injuries had been referred to the Specialist Hospital in Minna.
Meanwhile, anti-bomb Police detectives have cordoned off the blast scene and collected fragments that could guide them in the investigation. They will have to determine the kind of explosive device used and trace the assailants.
The explosion has also left more than eighteen people - mostly members of the Civil Defence and Federal Road Safety Corps in coma and sixteen other people nursing different degrees of injuries at the hospital.
Among those who died was a 32-year old, Malam Aminu, a primary school teacher and father of three. He died on the spot.
Confirming the incident to our correspondent, the Director Media and Publicity and Public affairs to the governor, Malam Bala Abdulkadir, said that investigation into the blast is already ongoing.
He stated that the government is waiting for the security findings into what caused the blast, adding that no stone will be left unturned until the culprits are brought to justice.
He confirmed that the Governor of Niger state Dr Muazu Babangida Aliyu left the venue unhurt adding that the explosion was not near the governor at the time it went off.
The governor, he said, has declared a three-day mourning period in the state and will also pick the bills of those wounded and compensate the families of those killed by the blasts.
Malam Abdulkadir relayed the condolence of the Niger state governor to the families of the deceased, calling on them to take the loss as an act of God and praying that God should grant them eternal rest.
“Our sympathy goes to the families of those affected by the blast. We hope Allah will grant those wounded quick recovery and for those we heard are dead, may God grant them eternal rest”, he said.
The Police Public Relations (PPRO) Officer, Mr Richard Oguche also confirmed the blast stated that the Police is investigating the matter but that no arrest has been made yet.
Dignitaries present at the occasion included the wife of the Niger state governor, Hajiya Jummai Aliyu, Minister of Agriculture Professor Shiek Abdallah, and Senators Zaynab Kure, Dahiru Aweisu Kuta, Nuhu Auna.
“We call for calm in the state. Let the Police do their job towards fishing out persons involved in the blast. We assure people of the state that anybody involved in the act would be dealt with according to the law”, he said.