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Why, oh, why?: Scores dead as bomb blast rocks Nigeria’s ‘centre of commerce’

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Why, oh, why?: Scores dead as bomb blast rocks Nigeria’s ‘centre of commerce’

by Ibrahim Faruk

Kano State was thrown into a state of shock, panic and insecurity yesterday following a series of bomb blasts targeting buses full of
passengers in Nigeria’s second largest city, Kano, at New Road, Sabon Gari area of the city.

Kano’s metropolitan population is the second largest in Nigeria after Lagos. The 2006 Nigerian census puts Kano’s urban area population at 2,163,225. Kano is largely Muslim. Christians and followers of other non-Muslim religions form a small part of the population, and have traditionally lived in the Sabon Gari, or ‘Foreign Quarters.’

Eyewitness accounts report that the bomb (an Improvised Explosive Device – IED) exploded at the hub of a commercial Luxury Bus park usually filled with commuters travelling from Kano to other parts of the country.

The casualty figure was very high with as many as 25 to 80 people confirmed to have been killed and dozens injured in the explosion that was triggered from a car parked beside the bus while others claim that the explosion was from within the bus. The Police spokesperson in Kano, Magaji Majiya, confirmed the incident.

A member of Igbo traditional council in Kano, Tobias Idika, said that, “IED was kept inside the luxurious bus which was about to leave Kano to Lagos, people were frying like chicken here and you know there are over two hundred people in this bus when the two IEDs exploded.”

President Goodluck Jonathan, in a swift reaction issued a standard and often heard statement where he, “…condemned in strong terms today’s bomb blasts in Kano.” The President said “the barbaric incident will not deter the Federal Government from its strong-willed
determination to overcome those who do not mean well for this nation. …the Federal Government will not be stampeded, for any reason whatsoever, into abandoning its unrelenting war against terrorists in the country.”

After the introduction of sharia in Kano State in 2000, many Christians left the city. Hundreds of people were killed in riots over the
sharia issue in October 2001. In November 2007, political violence broke out in the city after the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) accused the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) of rigging the November 17, 2007 local government elections. Buildings were set on fire
including a sharia police station, an Islamic centre, and a council secretariat. The intervention and deployment of federal troops forestalled further violence in the city.

In January 2012 a series of bomb attacks in Kano killed up to 162 people. Four police stations, the State Security Service headquarters, passport offices and immigration centres were attacked. Militants of the Boko Haram sect claimed responsibility. After the bombings, Kano was placed under curfew.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but Boko Haram, which has frequently attacked the city, was a prime suspect. The area has now been cordoned off by security forces in the state.

Kano State, which is also known as ‘The Centre of Commerce’ is strategically located and owing to its leading position as commercial hub in the sub-Saharan Africa. Kano is linked to many African cities by road. The economic significance of Kano dates back to the pre-colonial Africa when Kano city served as the southernmost point of the famous trans-Sahara trade routes. Kano was well connected with many cities in North Africa and some cities in southern Europe.

Kano maintains its economic and business importance even in 21st century with the state producing the richest black man – Aliko Dangote whose great father Alhassan Dantata was also the richest man during Nigeria’s colonial period.

There are dire implications of the latest bomb explosion on the polity and economy of the ancient city and by extension the entire state. Since 2000, Kano has been a city on the edge. Religious tensions have been simmering under the commercial bustle and tend to flare at the slightest hint of provocation.

Despite President Jonathan’s reassurance to Nigerians and foreigners in the country “that the Nigerian Government will continue to do all that is required to ensure the safety of lives and property, including continued collaboration with local and international partners and stakeholders to check the menace of terrorism” it must be stated that the economy of the state, relative peace and giant developmental strides by Gov. Rabiu Kwankwaso have been dealt a huge blow.

In his 18th March, 2013 statement, signed by Reuben Abati – Special Adviser (Media & Publicity), the President, “commiserated with the victims of the Kano explosions, their families and friends, and assured the Kano State government of the Federal Government’s continued support.”

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