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Fourteen Die in Niger State Bomb Blast

Published on Saturday 5th March 2011 Fourteen Die in Niger State Bomb Blast

A twin bomb explosion yesterday ended the flag-off of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Niger-East senatorial district rally in Suleja, Niger State. It left in its wake a string of tragedies as 14 people were killed while 15 others were unconscious. Another 16 were seriously injured as at time of compiling this report.

Those seriously injured were taken to Gwagwalada Specialist Hospital in the Federal Capital Territory while those unconscious were taken to Suleja General Hospital for treatment.

Our correspondent reported that the incident happened at about 1.30 pm after the governor's speech and the national anthem was about to be played to mark the end of the campaign. Party supporters were beginning to depart the Government Secondary School, Suleja, venue of the rally around Kantoma area along the Suleja-Madalla road when the bomb exploded.

The party supporters ran helter- skelter for their safety while shops and markets were hurriedly shut for fear of being affected by the explosion. The Governor, Dr. Muazu Babangida Aliyu was hurriedly guided into his car which was some few metres away from where the explosion took place.

A three-day mourning period has been declared by the Niger State government in honour of the victims of the incident.

Governor Aliyu has also promised that the state government would offset the hospital bills of all affected.

LEADERSHIP gathered from some security men manning the entrance to the scene of the explosion that unidentified persons in a moving white 18-seater bus threw the explosives over the fence of the secondary school into the venue of the rally.

As the confusion persisted, LEADERSHIP observed that security agencies in the town immediately cordoned off the ancient town while movement of men and vehicles was disallowed except those on essential duty.

As at press time, life had not returned to normal in the area as there were unconfirmed reports of another explosion after the governor had left. The explosion was said to have taken place near his pilot car.

The police public relations officer in the state ASP Oguche Richard, confirmed the incident to journalists and maintained that "we are on top of the situation. We cannot give the details of those affected and how it happened for now.".

Director-general media and public affairs to the Niger State governor, Bala Ibrahim Abdulkhadir, said the governor left the venue safely and that the government was waiting for the police report on the explosion.

He conveyed the government's sympathy to the victims of the explosion while assuring that the government would continue to be committed to the safety of the people in the state even as he called for calm.

Reacting to the bomb blast, President Goodluck Jonathan, yesterday condemned the action, saying it was unfortunate and unacceptable. The president who spoke through his senior special adviser on media, Mr. Ima Niboro, commiserated with the families of those killed.

Meanwhile, former military president, General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida (rtd.) has reacted to the bomb blast, describing it as "utterly shocking, disturbing and disheartening."

In a statement signed by Mr. Kazeem Afegbua, his special aide, he commiserated with the families of the deceased and injured.

"It is worrisome to note that the people particularly the electorates who we try to woo to seek their votes are no longer safe in the hands of bombers. Under such atmosphere of fear and trepidation occasioned by these unholy and ungodly acts, the electorate is further driven away from the attractions of democracy to a forced and coerced acceptance or rejection of candidates depending on the motive of the bombers.

"From whatever perspectives we tend to view these recurring decimals in our democratic journey, they are uncivilized, crude, shameful, brutish and utterly barbaric. Apart from giving us a bad name as a nation, they create an atmosphere of palpable fear in the polity and thus, eliminate healthy competition of ideas that should ordinarily be the hallmark of representative democracy.

He said: "My heart goes to the families of those who lost their precious ones as a result of this ugly incident. My heart goes to the people and government of Niger State over this barbaric act. My heart goes to the Emir of Suleja, the host town over this spectre of violence that has brought shame to all of us. My heart goes to Mr. President and the good people of Nigeria over this sad incident. It is a call for more purposeful action in the area of security of our dear nation.

"May Allah in his infinite mercy forgive the sins of the departed ones and grant them paradise in the hereafter. May the mercy and blessings of Allah come upon the families of the victims of this heinous act."

In his reaction, the ACN presidential candidate, Malam Nuhu Ribadu said,"I am deeply saddened by the news of an explosion that has so far claimed 10 lives in the rally of the People's Democratic Party (PDP) in Suleja Niger state.

I wish to extend my condolences to the families of the victims of the blast. Without doubt they are heroes of our democracy and we must not allow them to die in vain.

However, I want to call on the PDP led government to take adequate measures to safeguard the lives of Nigerians that attend political rallies. We cannot afford to lose more lives on account of security lapses.

I also call on all aggrieved Nigerians to use their votes to express their grievances. There is no gain in killing ourselves over what we can achieve through the ballot."

Meanwhile, no fewer than 15 Labour Party (LP) supporters lost their lives in a ghastly motor accident on their way to witness the campaign launch of the deputy governor of Plateau State and the governorship flag bearer of the party in the state, Dame Pauline Tallen. LEADERSHIP gathered that the accident occurred along Kassa-Barkin Ladi road involving a Nissan Bus with registration No. XB 910 DAl and one Ford Bus with registration No XE653 JJN. In addition to the dead 20 others sustained various degrees of injuries.

A minute's silence was observed at the rally venue by thousands of party supporters in honour of the deceased whose corpses have been deposited at the Jos University Teaching Hospital, JUTH. The state police command confirmed that 21 others were seriously injured and were receiving treatment at the state Specialist Hospital.

The police spokesman in the state, ASP Apev Jacob said in a release that the cause of the accident was being investigated and urged road users to observe traffic rules and regulations in order to minimize the rate of accidents.

Meanwhile, Dame Tallen has pledged to bring genuine reconciliation and sustainable peace in the troubled state if elected.

According to her, she has already compiled and published a detailed "peace manifesto" that contains positive and definite policies on all areas of the people's life, even as there would exist, a deliberate policy where the people should be allowed to prioritise the projects they desire.

She regretted that as a result of bad governance, innocent blood continued to flow instead of pipe-borne water which the people yearn for, and added that "the foundation for reconciliation can only be built through an all inclusive approach"

Dame Tallen lamented the decay in the health sector and the failure of the government to improve the standard of health of the people, especially women and youths, pointed out that her administration would never ignore issues of empowerment and workers' welfare as was presently the case.

The state, she added, would be released from its hijackers, which she said, "know nothing of politics and good governance in a democratic setting" as she offered the opportunity to "change a self-seeking and blind government"

The candidate said that the time for change was now because "a vote for Tallen\Gyang will ensure improved resource mobilisation and management, an effective and functional civil service, along with women and youth empowerment.

"Your vote for the Tallen\Gyang ticket will bring about improved education at all levels, a functional health care delivery system, an increased investment in agriculture and will guarantee physical infrastructural development and functional services" among others.

Comrade Ibrahim Bulus chairman of LP in Plateau State in his speech disclosed that the day marks a milestone in the political history of the state as the reinvigorated LP is presenting "the first female governorship candidate not only in the state but one of the only two in the whole of the federation.

According to him, since the assumption of Jang, the state has not known peace, while welfare issues of the citizenry, especially workers have been relegated to the background and as such, an opportunity for change has presented itself and the people should not allow it to slip by.

At the rally where the national chairman of the party, Barrister Dan Nwanyanwu and other top notchers of the party from across the country. Most of the candidates for various elective positions were present, including former governor Joshua Dariye.

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