Not since the January 20 2012 multiple bombings which killed some 200 persons did residents of Kano witness killings of the scale of last Friday’s massacre in the ancient city’s central mosque. Gunmen invaded the mosque just when the Juma’at sermon was to begin, sprayed the inside with bullets and threw bombs that cut down many lives. Those who managed to come out of the mosque alive were met by armed men outside who made sure they did not live to tell the story. On the last count, over 200 were believed to have been killed and another 160 injured. Official police fatality figure, however, was 36.
Almost a week after, no group has claimed responsibility for this cowardly, wanton waste of life, but just like those bombings before this, Friday’s bloodletting bore the hallmarks of the Boko Haram sect that has been waging a violent campaign in the North-east for the past five years. The killings in Kano climaxed a week of a killing spree by the sect that began in Borno, running through Yobe and Adamawa States. Incidentally, the rise in the sect’s violent activity has followed the National Assembly’s inability to approve President Goodluck Jonathan’s request for a fourth extension of emergency rule in the three North-east states.
Also, it is no coincidence that the attack on Kano’s central mosque came in the wake of Emir Muhammadu Sanusi II’s call on people in the states ravaged by the insurgency to defend themselves since the Nigerian government would not and could not protect them. The mosque is just a walking distance from the emir’s palace and he worships there. It is likely that he was a target.
Luckily, he was out of the country that very Friday. If he had been in the mosque and killed, the sect would have celebrated its most priced victim till date. Thank God, it did not get him.
Instead, celebration belonged to vigilant residents of the city who captured some of the attackers and promptly lynched them. Not that we condone jungle justice; we would have loved that they be handed over to the police for investigation. Who knows, they would have been able to pry useful information out of them.
While we join millions of Nigerians in condemning what happened in Kano last Friday, however, we are dismayed by insinuations made in some quarters that Christians were responsible for the mosque attack. Any attempt to pitch Muslims and Christians against one another will play into the hands of Boko Haram which has spared neither in its orgy of killings and destruction. This is the time lovers of peace should stand together to confront this terror stalking our land.
Meanwhile, we urge the Senate to quickly end the state of emergency impasse so as not to give the Jonathan administration an excuse to ease up in the war on terror. Not that the government’s effort was up to scratch even while emergency rule lasted.