By Emmanuel Ogbonnaya
Boko Haram, the dreaded Islamic sect currently operating along the Nigerian and Cameroun borders with it headquarters and roots in Nigeria, yesterday displayed its intolerance towards any group, sect or individual that dares condemn their barbaric and mindless mass murders and abduction of innocent schoolgirls, when its latest strike at the Kano central mosque claimed 120 lives and placed 270 on the injured list.
The attack on worshippers at the mosque follows increasing condemnations against their self-styled holy war by notable Islamic clerics, the latest being the call made last Friday by the Emir of Kano, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, who is the country’s second highest Muslim leader after the Sultan of Sokoto.
His Eminence, Muhammad Sanusi II, had called for the people to protect themselves against Boko Haram and the people in turn had pledged to protect him against possible attack by Boko Haram members.
Emir Sanusi had on Friday last week after the weekly prayer at City Central Mosque for sustenance of peace in the northern region said that people should protect themselves against insurgents and should not be fleeing their homes leaving their wives, children and properties behind for the Boko Haram sect.
“These people [Boko Haram], when they attack towns, they kill boys and enslave girls … People must stand resolute. People should be sensitised on the importance of being on the alert. And they should prepare, they should acquire what they will defend themselves with,” Sanusi had said.
Boko Haram has repeatedly attacked Kano. On November 14, a suicide bomb attack at a petrol station killed six people, including three police officers.
Findings revealed that most of the Kano city residents especially the youth and those with personal fighting skills before yesterday’s attacks, were already gearing up to mount a protective force behind Emir Sanusi, in case the insurgents are unhappy about his comment and think of attacking him.
It was observed that the comments made by the courageous emir reawakened the people as to what to do to fight back against the incessant killing of their wives, friends and children.
There are indications also that the emir’s comment on the need for self defence against terrorist attacks received wide acceptability among cross sections of Nigerians including Kano residents. The emir’s comment also received impressive acceptability by the majority of Nigerians and most significantly people from the southern part of the country.
National police spokesman Emmanuel Ojukwu told reporters that in the yesterday attack, bombers blew themselves up in quick succession then “gunmen opened fire on those who were trying to escape”.
Ojukwu said he did not know whether the suicide bombers were male or female, after a spate of attacks by women in recent months, and did not give an exact figure on the number of gunmen. But he said an angry mob killed four of the shooters in the chaotic aftermath. Witnesses in the city said they were set on fire.
An AFP reporter at the Murtala Mohammed Specialist Hospital morgue counted 92 bodies, most of them men and boys with blast injuries and severe burns. As night fell, hundreds of people were desperately trying to use the lights on their mobile phones to identify loved ones. But a senior rescue official said later that there were at least 120 dead and 270 wounded.
Emergency workers were still trying to visit all hospitals, he added. The “horrendous” attack was condemned by the US who said it “stands with the Nigerian people in their struggle against violent extremism.”
Washington also pointed the finger at Boko Haram. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said: “These attacks, while as yet unclaimed, have all the hallmarks of Boko Haram and the group's disregard for human life as it continues in its efforts to destabilize Nigeria.”
UN chief Ban Ki-moon has condemned the attack and said “there can be no justification for attacks on civilians.”