Former Head of State, General Muhammadu Buhari, whose convoy was caught in one of the twin bomb blasts that rocked Kaduna yesterday, has said that the second suicide attack was a deliberate plot to kill him.
Buhari said this after he escaped death by whiskers in one of the explosions that left many dead and scores injured.
Yesterday’s suicide bomb attack on Buhari came barely 48 hours after he made a scathing criticism of the Goodluck Jonathan led Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) administration, over its perceived plotting of the gale of impeachment moves against some All Progressives Congress (APC) governors.
The Daura born retired general, in a press statement he personally signed and issued yesterday in Kaduna, stated that he was personally involved in a clear assassination attempt on his life.
“I am personally involved in a clearly targeted bomb attack today (yesterday) at about 2:30pm on my way to Daura.
“The unfortunate event, clearly an assassination attempt came from a fast moving vehicle that made many attempts to overtake my security car, but was blocked by the escort vehicle.
“We reached the market area of Kawo where he took advantage of our slowing down and attempted to ram my car and instantly detonated the bomb which destroyed all the three cars in our convoy.
“Unfortunately, when I came out of my vehicle, I saw many dead bodies littered around. They were innocent people going about their daily business who became victims of mass murder”, he stressed.
While Buhari came out unhurt in the blast, three of his security aides were injured and rushed to hospital.
“Thank God for His mercy, I came out unhurt, but with three of my security staff sustained minor injuries. They have since been treated in hospital and discharged”, the general added.
The blast, which occurred close to the popular Kawo Motor Park, was said to have had three suicide bombers targeted at Buhari’s convoy.
The Toyota Land Cruiser in which he was being drive, and another conveying his security aides, were completely damaged, but the general was immediately whisked away from the scene in another vehicle by his security personnel, eye witnesses said.
An associate of Buhari said the bomber, who drove in a Toyota Sienna vehicle, rammed into the general’s convoy and detonated the explosive-laden vehicle.
The attack on the former head of state occurred almost two hours after an earlier blast believed to be targeted at prominent Islamic cleric, Sheikh Dahiru Usman Bauchi.
The first blast, which was said to have occurred around 12:45pm along Isa Kaita Road by Alkali Road Junction, happened while the cleric was returning home from where he had the closing of the 2014 Ramadan Tafsir (preaching).
Although there was no accurate account of the total number of people killed in the two incidents, some eye witnesses said the death toll could hit 100. Director General of the National Orientation Agency (NOA), who also coordinates the National Information Centre (NIC) in Abuja, had earlier in the day confirmed that 25 people were killed in the first blast.
According to an eye witness, “a teenage suicide bomber who was apparently waiting for the convoy of the scholar, tried to manoeuvre his way to hit the convoy but was cleared away by a security agent in the convoy.
“When the suspect was pushed, the bomb exploded and the main victims were passengers in a J5 bus that was in the convoy of the scholar. It was only the driver of the bus that escaped but most of the people in the vehicle lost their lives”, said one of the eye witnesses.
Here too, the sheikh was unhurt although his clothes and his vehicle were stained with blood.
The blast is the second suspected to be targeting Sheikh Dahiru Bauchi in Kaduna in less than one month. Last month, an explosion occurred near his house, injuring one person.
The sheikh is a known critic of the extremist Boko Haram sect. It is however, not clear whether the group was responsible for both attacks.
The spokesperson of the opposition All Progressives Congress, [APC], Lai Mohammed, had also said the explosion was targeted at the former head of state.
The leader of a pro-Buhari pressure group, The Buhari Vanguard, Jasper Azuatalam, said he was frightened by the dangerous dimension the attack has taken.
Confirming the incidents at the NIC in Abuja, spokesperson of the Department of State Services (DSS), Marilyn Ogar, also confirmed that it was not the first time the convoy of Sheikh Dahiru Bauchi was being attacked, adding that investigation was still ongoing.
“Of course you know that Imam Shehu Dahiru Bauchi holds annual Ramadan prayers. Now, we don’t want to be too forward because his convoy missed being hit by the whiskers and of course, we don’t want to be presumptuous also by saying it was targeted at him. So, investigation is still ongoing”, Ogar said.
She explained that the latest explosion took place in Kaduna about two kilometres from the venue of the Ramadan preaching session.
“Unfortunately, the whole prayer session has come to an end and people have dispersed; they were moving out of the Murtala Square, the bomber had packed the vehicle close to where other vehicles were packed and there was a limit to which they can go further”, she stressed.
Ogar appealed to Nigerians to continue to be vigilant as security agents cannot be present everywhere.
“We have always said that we as citizens take a little bit of time to look around us. Double packing in any place should not be condoned and of course because of the nature of the work you won’t expect that the security people be at everywhere and that is why we are asking the citizens to contribute their own quota.
“As a preacher, if you know that there is somebody in your congregation that does not tolerate any form of evil in the society, you must be conscious.
“I want to tell you that there is no way a vehicle laden with explosives will drive from Abuja to Kaduna. These people bring these things in tiny components and couple them before moving them, and most times they would have done a survey of the roads they are going to pass through especially when it is not a suicide mission.
“Like in this particular case, the bomb was laden in a J5 and was remotely detonated. We must be conscious of our environment. Get to know who your neighbour is, get to know what the next man is doing. Be vigilant”, she warned.
Meanwhile, the Kaduna state governor, Mukhtar Ramalan Yero, yesterday declared a 24-hour curfew in the metropolis following reactions by residents, some of who pelted security agents with all pebbles and other items, apparently disapproving of their conducts.
Governor Yero, who condemned the explosions, described the acts as the height of ‘cowardice’ by those bent on creating tension in the state.
He said the curfew, which took immediate effect, became necessary to allow security agencies restore normalcy to the troubled city.
It would be recalled that two days ago, Gen. Buhari issued a statement warning President Jonathan and his government against their perceived attempts to muscle the opposition and endanger Nigeria. That did not go down well with the Presidency, which countered in an angry response by Jonathan’s spokesman, Reuben Abati, the same day.