PDP, APC clash as 30 die in Borno bridge explosion
• APC responsible for rising bloodletting – Opposition party • PDP has nightmares, peddling falsehood, says APC
THE Peoples Democratic Party and the All Progressives Congress on Tuesday locked horns on national issues, including renewed insurgency and insecurity in the country.
The PDP, in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Mr Kola Ologbondiyan, said the ruling party, the APC, was responsible for what it called renewed insurgent attacks, bloodletting and worsened insecurity in some parts of the country. It also accused the APC regime of looting.
But its counterpart for the APC, Lanre Issa-onilu, accused the PDP of falsehood. He said the opposition party was not constant in its lies.
The PDP and the APC disagreed over national issues , just as no fewer than 30 people were killed and 35 injured in an explosion on a bridge at Gamboru, Borno State, on Monday.
Residents of the town, in an interview with The PUNCH on Tuesday, said an improvised explosive device was detonated on the bridge at 3pm on Monday in the market town of Gamboru, close to Cameroon.
One of the eyewitnesses, said, “All I can say is that I heard a loud bang and when I rushed to the scene, I saw lifeless bodies, about 30 in all.”
However, a source at one of the United Nations agencies in Maiduguri, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told one of our correspondents that only nine persons were killed and 17 others injured in the explosion.
The source, in a text message sent to the correspondent, stated, “The explosion killed nine persons. The blast was heard around 3:30pm yesterday (Monday) on the Gamboru bridge.after the explosion, Nigerian military closed the bridge.”
But a member of the civilian joint task force, a youth group fighting insurgency alongside the military in the North-east, said improvised explosive device detonated on the bridge killed scores of people.
Also, Reuters reported on Tuesday that eyewitnesses in the market town said more than 35 injured people were taken to the local hospital following the attack.
An eyewitness, Modu Ali, in an interview with Reuters, said, “It is an unfortunate day for us to witness this frustrating and devastating incident in our community. I just heard a loud sound of explosions, before I realised what was happening I saw many of our friends and colleagues were killed.”
It was suicide bombing
– Commander The Theatre Commander, Operation Lafiya Dole, Major General Olusegun Adeniyi, confirmed the bombing of the Gamboru bridge. He attributed the explosion to a suicide bombing carried out by a suspected insurgent.
“It was a suicide bombing by a terrorist which claimed many lives and also damaged the bridge,” Adeniyi, told one of our correspondents on the phone on Tuesday.
Recall that after gains made by security agents last year, there has been resurgence of banditry, killing and kidnapping in some parts of the country.
On Friday, gunmen attacked Tawari in the Kogi Local Government Area of Kogi State and killed 23 people.
On Sunday, bandits killed four soldiers at Sarkin Pawa in the Munya Local Government Area of Niger State.
In Bayelsa State, gunmen on Monday killed four naval ratings and abducted three expatriates at Agge in the Ekeremor Local Government Area.
Also, after security chiefs’ meeting with the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), on December 30, the Chief of Naval Staff, Rear Admiral Ibok Ekwe-ibas, had said, “Just two weeks back, we have had over 27 attacks from Boko Haram and ISWAP in the North-east alone.”
Amidst the worsening insecurity, the Federal Government had said it would withdraw troops from less volatile areas in the country.
APC responsible for rising bloodletting – PDP
In its statement on Tuesday, the PDP said the APC allegedly had been feeding fat and servicing its interests from the pains and anguish of Nigerians.
The party urged Nigerians to be wary of the alleged APC’S renewed attacks and baseless allegations against the PDP and its leaders, including former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar.
It said the alleged APC’S attacks were all in the bid to divert public attention from its perceived atrocities against Nigeria, including compromising its security architecture for selfish purposes.
The PDP challenged the APC to respond to allegations that its regime terminated the nation’s counter-insurgency operations to satisfy foreign interests, leading to escalated violent attacks and bloodletting in various parts of the country, particularly in the North.
The opposition party stated that the APC should explain the assertion by an international security expert, Eeben Barlow, who said on an international television, Aljazeera, that Nigeria was successfully routing out insurgents in the North-east before the APC and its regime terminated the counter-insurgency operation to satisfy an alleged American interest that assisted it to win the 2015 elections.
Ologbondiyan said, “It is instructive to note that the APC has engaged in unwarranted attacks on the PDP and Atiku Abubakar as well as sponsoring negative divisive publications in the last few days in the bid to divert public attention from this very grave issue.
“Nigerians can now see why insurgents, marauders and bandits, who had been pushed to the fringes under the PDP administration suddenly resurged in renewed ravaging of communities and killing our compatriots unabated, while the APC and its administration engage in empty condolence messages.
“Nigerians are aware of how the APC imported political mercenaries, thugs and miscreants from neighbouring countries including Niger Republic and used them to unleash violence on Nigerians during the 2019 presidential election.”
The PDP said the APC should account for or demand investigation and prosecution of its leaders responsible for the looting of over N14tn from federal coffers, including the stolen N9tn exposed by the leaked Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation memo on oil subsidy theft.
“The APC should also account for the N1.1tn worth of crude siphoned by its leaders using 18 unregistered vessels, the stealing of over N48bn meant for the rehabilitation of victims of insurgency.
“It should account for the N33bn National Emergency Management Agency saga in which a very top member of the President, Major-gejeral Muhammadu Buhari (retd), regime was mentioned as well as the looting spree in National Health Insurance Scheme and the Federal Inland Revenue Service under its watch.”
PDP has nightmares, peddling falsehood, says APC
But the APC accused the PDP of peddling falsehood and fabricating figures to justify its claims of alleged looting of the treasury.
Its National Publicity Secretary, Lanre Issa-onilu, in an interview with one of our correspondents, said the opposition had kept changing its figures on the alleged fraud committed in the Federal Inland Revenue Service and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation.
He said, “We have challenged them to ascertain their facts before coming to the public. The PDP should be constant in its lies by getting a constant figure. They should stop peddling different figures as it may soothe them by telling Nigerians their final figure on the alleged looting.
“Secondly, we have challenged them to give evidence from anywhere – not just FIRS or NNPC – where any missing money is traced to the party.
“They have kept changing the figures they want to use to lie. Although we know it is falsehood, they should at least keep to a figure. They can’t be reeling out figures they obtained while having nightmares.”
Beef up security, Atiku tells Buhari
On his part, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, urged the President to beef up security across border communities in Nigeria.
Atiku, in his tweeter handle, @atiku, said he was saddened by the death of no fewer than 30 people in Gamboru, Borno State, after an improvised explosive device was detonated on a bridge.
“I am saddened by reports of the death of no fewer than 30 people in a bridge bomb attack in Gamboru, Borno State. May the souls of the deceased rest in peace and their families be comforted. Security must be beefed up across border towns. –AA”
Renewed banditry: Kastina villagers fleeing, says coalition
In Kastina State, the Coalition of Civil Society Organisations criticised both the federal and Katsina Stat governments over renewed bandit attacks in the state.
The coalition, in a statement in Kastina on Tuesday by its Chairman, Bishir Ruwangodiya, said banditry had made thousands of people in the state to flee their homes.it said bandits had increased and intensified their attacks to virtually all parts of the state.
The group stated, “It is no longer news that
Katsina State that used to be one of the most peaceful states in the country is gradually missing such glory due to increasing act of banditry and related crimes.
“Currently, in addition to the eight frontline local government areas of Batsari, Jibia, Danmusa, Safana, Sabuwa, Kankara, Dandume and Faskari, the menace has escalated in Dutsinma, Kurfi, Batagarawa, Rimi, Danja, Kafur, Matazu, Kaita, Malumfashi and Katsina, which are now also vulnerable to these attacks .
26 attacks recorded in two Katsina LGAS in 30 days
“Worst hit of recent after the dialogue and amnesty are Jibia and Dutsinma local government areas where hardly a day goes by without a reported attack. Within the last 30days for instance, 26 attacks were recorded in these places.
“Insurgency in Katsina State has made thousands of people flee their homes and relocate to other communities for safety. Those that can afford rents look for accommodation in other safer communities within and outside the state while those that cannot live with relatives.
“In view of the state’s security situation, coupled with the actions being taken by government at all levels, the coalition wishes to strongly express its dismay by the way federal and state governments are not living up to their constitutional responsibility of protecting lives and property of the people of Katsina State, as enshrined in section 14 (2) of the constitution. The Federal Government is the tier that has control over the security institutions and machinery of the country.”
The group said the federal and state governments had failed woefully in securing the lives and property of the people of the state.
It stated, “The dialogue done with the bandits initiated in good faith became efficient for a while because it was neither professional nor built on any defined framework.
“Should this situation continue , the people would be left with no option but to take the law into their own hands to protect themselves. This may spell doom for the future of security in the state.
“The foresight of the state government in creating security department and appointing a seasoned security expert is commendable.”
The coalition alleged that some unpatriotic citizens had started conniving with the bandits to smuggle rice, arms, and other items.
It added, “The coalition has also observed that the suspension of vigilante groups has created an avenue for the bandits to wreak havoc at will. It has been observed also that there are several allegations of connivance between bandits, security personnel, and traditional rulers.”
The coalition advised the state government to review its dialogue with the bandits with a view to making it professional, effective and sustainable.
It also called for what it called “productive engagement on security issues with communities. Government should ensure that the office of the security adviser be made to function effectively devoid of any interference.”