One passer-by was yesterday believed to have been killed, two others rescued and four still missing following the skirmishes that followed the bomb blast that rocked Jos, the Plateau State capital at the weekend.
THISDAY gathered that the victims were attacked along Rayfield in Jos South Local Government Area of the state.
The victims, who were in a Vento car with registration number XD 371 KWL are residents of Gude village in Akwanga Local Government Area of Nasarawa State and were on transit from Gombe State, where they had gone for a Maulud.
A survivor of the attack, Bashir Abdulkadir, who narrated his ordeal, said: “We were coming back from Maulud in Gombe, and going back to Gude in Nasarawa State when we arrived Jos around 9:30p.m. to meet that there was a bomb blast.
The security men stopped us and told us of the explosion, and later directed us to go through Bauchi Ring Road to avoid the scene of the blast. The were many other travellers that were also stranded on the road.
“But one of the security men suggested to us to go through the Ring Road that leads to British-America Junction. But we missed our way and took through Lamingo Road, and on our way, we met some hoodlums that blocked the road and immediately hit our vehicle and asked us to come out.
“They start beating us all over and we ran into the bush and some of us jumped into a stream close by and they killed our driver as he could not run because he had challenges with his leg.”
Bashir added: “I jumped into the stream but I was unable to escape, they caught me and continued to beat me, one of them used catapult at close range and broke my tooth. They concluded to lynch me by using tyre, but for the timely arrival of the military vehicle, which rescued me. The soldiers evacuated us at a police post close to Air Force Headquarters.”
When contacted, the state Commissioner of Police, Chris Olakpe, said he was not aware of the incident, adding that what he knew was that there was skirmishes around Lamingo road and the matter was still under investigation.
Meanwhile, the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) yesterday confirmed that four persons including a suicide bomber, died when the bomber detonated an explosive device near a viewing centre around Bauchi Road, in Jos, the Plateau State capital.
This was as Christian worshippers stayed indoors on yesterday for fears that they might be attacked at worship centres.
The few that were, however, courageous enough to go to their churches, were subjected to thorough scrutiny before they were allowed access to their churches.
The NEMA Principal Planning Officer, North-central zone, Mohammed Suleiman, who was at the scene of the explosion yesterday morning, told journalists that they had recovered three bodies on Saturday night “while another corpse was recovered this (Sunday) morning .”
Suleiman further said: “Three other persons sustained injuries and they are presently receiving treatment: two at the Al-hassan Hospital, Anguwan Rogo and another at Gambazi Hospital, Yanshanu.”
He added that “immediately we received the distress call that there was an explosion around Bauchi road, close to the Red Cross office, we swung into action. When we arrived, the place was still in flames so the fire service had to put off the fire then together with the Red Cross and other emergency workers, we started the search and rescue.”
Meanwhile, the state Commissioner for Information and Communication, Olivia Daziem, in a statement yesterday, said the state government regretted the loss of lives and sympathised with the families of the dead and injured.
It also encourageed hospitals to attend to the victims promptly as it had decided to settle their medical bills.
“It is obvious that the intention of these messengers of anarchy is to break our spirit and set us apart. We should therefore not allow ourselves to fall into their devious plan but remain united and focused on the Plateau peace project”, she admonished.
Also, a member of the state House of Assembly, Hon. Ibrahim Baba Hassan, has condemned the explosion, describing it as a declaration of war against all Nigerians.
Hassan, who represents Jos North constituency, spoke at the scene of the explosion where he commended the community for their security consciousness and bravery, adding that “I am impressed with what happened even after the explosion: the youths came together and helped in the search and rescue. If not for the security consciousness of the youths in the community, the bomber would have achieved his aim of getting to the viewing centre and that would have been catastrophic.”
He called on residents of the state to unite irrespective of ethnic and religious difference to fight the common enemy.
While calling on the state and federal governments to rise up to the present security challenges, the member said: “The government has a responsibility of securing lives and property of every Nigerian.”
Similarly, the Commissioner for Water Resources, Idi Waziri, who was also at the scene, called on people of the state to be extra vigilant to identify any strange face amongst them.
Waziri explained: “From what I gathered, based on the number plate from the vehicle, the bomber was not from here. We have to be vigilant because these people may be dwelling among us.”
An eyewitness, Alhaji Garba Ahmad, who lost his elder brother, Alhaji Bello, in the blast, said the bomber had first attempted to enter the viewing centre, but was prevented by a barricade erected along the road, so he turned back trying to enter through a garage, but also encountered a wall between the centre and the garage.
“In frustration, the bomber packed the car, a Honda Odyssey, in front of our house.”
Ahmad said: “When we saw the car, unusually packed in front of our house, my brother challenged the bomber, who told my brother that his car was spoilt and that he wanted to repair it. My brother then asked him to take the car elsewhere to repair.
Sensing something unusual, I went inside and asked all the members of our family to leave the house. Just as my by brother was persuading the man to leave the premises, he (the bomber) entered the car and immediately he started it, the bomb exploded, killing my brother, his son and his friend.”