20 die in Sabon Gari, Kano bomb blasts * 42 Boko Haram suspects arrested in Lagos, Ogun
No fewer than 20 persons were believed to have been killed in Sabon Gari area of Kano on Monday as suspected terrorists detonated about four bombs in the neighbourhood.
It was learnt that one of the explosions, believed to have been carried out by Islamic sect, Boko Haram, occurred at a drinking joint in Sabon Gari, where most of the non-indigenes reside.
The blasts occurred on Igbo Road, Enugu Road and New Road, opposite Ado Bayero Square.
The first blast was said to have occurred at about 9.12pm near International Hotel, while the second blast followed three minutes later.
Security forces immediately condoned off both sites, which prevented people from moving closer to the places hit by the explosions.
A resident of the area, who spoke to one of our correspondents on the telephone, said there were series of explosions, which had created pandemonium in the commercial area of the state capital.
The resident, who craved anonymity, said the explosions were still ongoing as of 10pm, adding that there had been at least two explosions before the latest one at about 9.30pm.
It was difficult to ascertain the number of casualties of the explosions but Channels TV, in its 10pm news report, said about 20 people had been killed.
AFP reports that "at least four explosions" had occurred in the Sabon Gari neighbourhood on Monday.
"There is confusion all over the place. There were four huge explosions, so huge that they shook the whole area. Everywhere is enveloped in smoke and dust," Chinyere Madu, a fruit vendor, told AFP.
Kola Oyebanji, a resident of the neighbourhood, believed "beer parlours" were the target.
He said, "My house is not far from there. All my windows are shattered."
The cause of the blasts was not immediately clear.
The spokesman for the Joint Task Force, Captain Ikedichi Iweh, confirmed the explosions but refused to give details.
The Commissioner of Police, Kano State, Mr. Musa Daura, who confirmed the incident, claimed that six persons were killed during the blasts while six others were injured.
Boko Haram had claimed responsibility for coordinated suicide blasts at a bus park in Sabon Gari in March that killed about 22 people.
However, in Lagos, 42 suspected members of Boko Haram were on Monday paraded by the 81 Division of the Nigerian Army in Lagos.
They were nabbed between July 12 and July 23 in various parts of Lagos and Ogun states
According to the Nigerian Army, the suspects fled from Borno State following a state of emergency declared by the Federal Government.
Although most of the suspects spoke in Hausa language, a few who managed to communicate in pidgin, confessed that they had been involved in terrorist activities in the past.
One of them, Hassan Ibrahim, who admitted recruiting some of the suspects, disclosed that he, in company with Ibrahim Ismail and Alhaji Black, killed a soldier and a civilian identified only as Buka in Maiduguri.
He said, "We rode a tricycle in Maiduguri and killed a soldier and one Buka. It was Alhaji Black that pulled the trigger. We also carried out some other operations in the area.
"Later, I met both Ismaili and Alhaji Black in Lagos, while I was riding okada (motorcycle)."
Black, who was also accused by Ismail of being a member of the sect, denied the accusation. He said he had been riding a motorcycle in Lagos in the past five years, adding that he was arrested during a raid in Kirikiri, a surburb of Lagos.
Some of the other suspects denied being terrorists, saying that they had been in Lagos for many years.
The General Officer Commanding the 81 Division,Maj.- Gen. Obi Umahi, said the suspects were arrested during raids by intelligence operatives. He explained the raid was carried out following intelligence report that the sect planned to unleash terror on parts of the South-West.
He said the raids were conducted at Ibafo trailer park and Ileke new trailer garage in Ogun State; Aviation quarters at Mafoluku, Oshodi; Ketu/Mile 12 Motor Park; Orile Trailer Park; Lekki new extension and Bar Beach.
These places, according to him, were fast becoming Boko Haram enclaves.
Umahi said that during interrogation,some of the suspects gave useful information that led to the arrest of others.
The GOC said, "The raids were conducted between July 12 and July 23 in various hideouts in Lagos and Ogun states which are fast becoming Boko Haram terrorist enclaves."
The army boss did not say if arms were recovered from the suspects, but he added that they were still trying to track their weapons.
"From investigations, we cannot say if they are in Lagos to stage an attack or running for their lives. Investigations would reveal that," he said.
Our correspondent learnt that due to the pressure from the armed forces in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states, suspected Boko Haram members had been fleeing to the South-West.
The PUNCH had reported last Wednesday that the police in Ogun State had arrested a 22-year-old man, Giraima Suri, suspected to be a member of Boko Haram in Isheri-Kara in Ifo Local Government area.
The police had said the suspect, who hails from Bulunkutu Kasuwa, Maiduguri, Borno State, was arrested based on a tip off.
The Police Public Relations Officer, Muyiwa Adejobi, in a statement in Abeokuta, said the suspect told policemen that he fled Maiduguri to the South-West following aggressive manhunt for members of the sect by security operatives.
The PUNCH learnt that since security agents foiled a terror plot and arrested a suspected terrorist, Ibrahim Musa, in Ijora, Lagos on March 22, 2013, there had been constant raids across the state.
The Minister of Special Duties, Kabiru Tanimu, had also said last month that at least 104 Boko Haram members were being detained in prisons in Lagos.
The Director, State Security Service, Lagos State Command, Mr. Ben Olayi, who spoke to our correspondent on the telephone, said the sudden interest in Lagos State by the suspected sect members was predictable because Lagos has a special status.
Olayi said the SSS was collaborating with its sister agencies in the state to make sure that no terror plot succeeded.
He said, "We will not stop doing what we have been doing in terms of security. We will keep monitoring them (terrorists). We had anticipated that when the heat was much for them in the North, some of them would come to Lagos because Lagos is always the city of first choice.
"We have not made any arrests in recent times but we have been giving other security agencies information which they have been using to make arrests."