Two bomb blasts ripped through the outskirts of the capital Abuja, including one target that was twice hit before by Boko Haram militants.
Friday’s explosions occurred near a police station in Kuje and at a bus stop in Nyanya at about 10:30 PM. The same bus station in Nyanya, which is located to the east of the capital, was targeted twice last year. In the first attack, on 14 April, at least 75 people were killed and it was claimed by the Islamists; while the second attack occurred on 1 May and left at least 16 people dead. Kuje, which is located near Abuja’s airport, is some 40 kilometres (25 miles) west of the city centre. It is also the seat of government. Its prison is reportedly holding dozens of Boko Haram prisoners who have been captured by troops. Nigeria’s National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) warned of casualties from the simultaneous explosions in Kuje and Nyanya and likened the explosives used to those in the areas that have ben the worst-hit by the group’s six-year insurgency. According to NEMA spokesman Manzo Ezekiel, “it was not an accidental explosion…definitely it was a bomb,” adding, “at this time we can only confirm the explosions. Our officers are on the ground. There are a number of dead but we can’t say anything about numbers now.” Ezekiel further disclosed that the latest blasts occurred almost simultaneously, adding that it appears to use “the same kind of explosives used in the insurgency.” Abuja was last attacked on 25 June this year, when 22 people were killed in a blast that targeted a popular shopping centre located in the heart of the capital. Boko Haram later claimed responsibility for the attack and a separate strike, which occurred later that day in the Apapa port district of the financial capital, Lagos.
In a message that was posted on social media on Sunday evening, Boko Haram has claimed responsibility for twin bomb attacks that occurred on the outskirts of Abuja. According to authorities, at least 18 people were killed and 41 injured in the bombings, which occurred on Friday night in Juje and in Nyanya. The claim of responsibility on Twitter was signed by Islamic State in West Afica Province, used by Boko Haram since it pledged alleigants to the militants in Syria and Iraq in March. The message showed photographs of three men in combat fatigues, holding automatic weapons and in frton of the group’s insignia, and claimed that they had carried out “martyrdom operations.” On Saturday, police indicated that “preliminary investigations reveled the bomb blasts were carried out by two suicide bombers – a male and a female.”
On Friday, the winner of Nigeria’s presidential election in March, Muhammadu Buhari, was sworn in as leader of Africa’s most populous country.
President Buhari is the first opposition figure to win a presidential election in Nigeria since independence in 1960. He defeated Goodluck Jonathan, who had been in office since 2010, by 15.4 million votes to 12.9 million. At the inauguration ceremony at Abuja’s Eagle Square, Mr Jonathan handed over the constitution and national flags before Mr Buhari took his oath of office. Mr Jonathan also urged his successor to unite the country in the face of the continued threat from Boko Haram. Speaking to cheering crowds, President Buhari stated, “I will discharge my duties to the best of my ability, faithfully and in accordance with the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the law.” President Buhari comes to power as the country is facing significant economic as well as security challenges, with the on-going Boko Haram insurgency, which has devastated towns and villages in northeastern Nigeria. President Buhari has also promised to stamp out corruption.
Security was increased in and around the capital Abuja on Thursday, as final preparations were underway for the inauguration of Muhammadu Buhari as president. Amongst those confirmed to attend are South African President Jacob Zuma, US Secretary of State John Kerry and French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius. On the ground sources have reported that soldiers were out in force on the streets of the capital, including at the main entry points into the city. There was also a visible police presence at key locations across Abuja, including at hotels and government buildings. Roads have been closed around the Eagle Square inauguration venue, where dozens of international flags have been hoisted alongside the Nigerian flag. Nigeria’s federal police chief Solomon Arase has indicated that the measures have been imposed in order “to ward off possible plans by insurgents to carry out widespread violence and coordinated attacks.” He has urged members of the public to remain vigilant and to cooperate with the security services “to stamp out crimes, including (the) war against terror…to ensure (a) hitch-free inauguration.” Such threats include a possible attack by Boko Haram militants, who in the past have hit Abuja, including twice in the space of a month last April and May, when nearly 100 people were killed. On those occasions, the bombings targeted a bus station located on the outskirts of the city. In June last year, 21 people were killed when a bomb targeted a shopping mall located near the city center. In 2010, twin car bombings claimed by militants from the oil-producing southern Delta region killed ten people near ceremonies in the capital marking fifty years of independence.
On Tuesday, partial results from Nigeria’s elections give opposition leader General Muhammadu Buhari a narrow lead over the incumbent, Goodluck Jonathan, however Mr Jonathan’s strongholds are yet to report final numbers and the final result of the polls is too close to call.
As of mid-Tuesday, just over half of Nigeria’s thirty-six states have declared returns in the vote. A number of the northern states, where Gen Buhari is seen as favourite, still have to declare. Results so far: from 25 states and Abuja (note: candidates need 25% in 24 states for first-round victory)
General Buhari: 10,454,137 votes; passed 25% threshold in 16 states
Mr Jonathan: 9,953,432 votes; passed 25% threshold in 20 states
This is Gen Buhari’s forth run at the presidency, with his prospects drastically increasing over growing frustration and criticism of Jonathan’s handling of Boko Haram’s six-year insurgency.
As was expected, Gen Buhari swept the northern states of Kano and Kaduna however the number of votes he received crushed expectations and have dealt a major defeat to Mr Jonathan. In Kano, which is the state with the second-largest number of voters, Gen Buhari won 1.9 million votes while Mr Jonathan received 216,000. In Kaduna, Gen Buhari won 1.1 million votes to Mr Jonathan’s 484,000. Gen Buhari also won the southern state of Lagos while Mr Jonathan won a large majority in his home state of Bayelsa. While by Monday evening, Gen Buhari was leading by two million votes, this lead was significantly cut after Mr Jonathan gained a landslide victory in Rivers State, where there have been widespread reports of irregularities which have resulted in local officials imposing an overnight curfew in an attempt to prevent any violence from erupting. On Tuesday, electoral commission chairman Attahiru Jega disclosed that a fact-finding team deployed to the state had found there were some voting irregularities with the poll but not enough in order “to warrant a cancellation of the election.”
Counting of the votes in Abuja is being carried out in the presence of party representatives as well as the media and national and international observers. The winner of the 2015 presidential elections is expected to be announced at the end of Tuesday. A victory for Gen Buhari will effectively make Mr Jonathan the first incumbent to lose an election in Nigeria.
According to police officials, gunmen in Nigeria have freed more than 200 prisoners in the latest jailbreak to occur in the restive West African country.
Sources have reported that the gunmen late Saturday stormed the facility, which is located in the central Nigerian city of Minna, in Niger state near the capital Abuja. In recent years, Boko Haram, and its offshoot Ansaru, have been behind several prison raids. A police spokesman for Niger state confirmed the breakout, adding that the incident was still being investigated and that “its unclear if this is Boko Haram or some criminal gangs.” One security source did report that he doubted that “…there were many high profile Boko Haram suspects being held in Minna.” Deputy Superintendent Ibrahim Gambari has reported that police recaptured at least ten escapees from the medium security prison. Local residents reported hearing gunshots however they noted that no explosions were heard in the attack. One resident reported seeing the guards of the prison fleeing shortly after the first assault.
Saturday’s prison attack is the third to occur in the past three months in the West African nation. While jailbreaks are frequent, with police only capturing a fraction of those who escape, over the past several months, suspected Boko Haram militants have increasingly been targeting prisons across Nigeria in a bid to free jailed militants. On 1 December, more than 300 inmates broke out of a prison bombed by gunmen in southwest Ekiti state while on 3 November, 144 escaped from south-central Kogi state after gunmen bombed a prison wall. Two earlier jailbreaks were blamed on Boko Haram however it currently is unknown how many hundreds of Boko Haram suspects are being held in Nigerian jails. If Boko Haram is behind this latest string of prison attacks, it could be an attempt by the militant group to increase its numbers ahead of major attacks that are likely to be carried out over the upcoming holiday season. Over the past several weeks, Boko Haram has intensified its tempo of attacks, carrying out deadly bombings and suicide attacks across northeastern Nigeria on an almost daily basis, with the Nigerian military carrying out minimal efforts in order to prevent attacks from occurring.
The vast majority of people being held in Nigerian jails have either never been charged or are awaiting trial. Despite it being illegal to hold someone for more than 48 hours without bringing charges or presenting them to a magistrate, some prisoners have been held for many years. According to statistics released on 30 June by Nigeria’s Prisons Service, only 18,042 of 56,785 inmates have been convicted of a crime.
Security sources indicated Monday that more than sixty women and girls are reported to have escaped from captivity.
Reports have indicated that more than sixty women and girls have escaped from the Nigerian Islamist group Boko Haram. They are believed to be from a group of sixty-eight women who were kidnapped last month near the town of Damboa in north-eastern Borno state. Boko Haram is still holding more than 200 schoolgirls who were abducted in April of this year.
Security sources have indicated that the women escaped when the militants went to attack a military base near Damboa on Friday. The Nigerian military has also reported that its troops killed more than fifty rebels during clashes that occurred that night. Due to on going insecurities in the region, coupled with poor access to the area, the number of women who managed to escape from Boko Haram remains unclear. However a local vigilante has reported receiving an alert from his colleagues indicating that about sixty-three abducted women and girls had made it back home late on Friday.
Meanwhile frustration continues to grow as more than 200 schoolgirls kidnapped in Chibok, Borno state, on April 14 are still being held captive. Activists of the Bring Back Our Girls movement attempted to march towards the presidential palace in Abuja on Sunday however they were turned back by security forces. According to one activist, Aisha Yesufu, “it’s 83 days today that the girls have been abducted…We have been coming out for 68 days and nobody has really listened to us.”
Nigeria’s overstretched and under-resourced military has been incapable of fighting Boko Haram’s insurgency, which has already killed thousands over the past five years.