5th July, 2012
By Femi Adi/Kaduna
Speculations that members of the Boko Haram sect were planning a massive bombing of the troubled Nigerian city of Kaduna triggered panic, with residents choosing to stay indoors and shops,offices, banks shut.
The rumours became so widespread that it forced workers , traders as well as students to either return to their homes or refused to come out today
Banks, Schools and many business premises within Ahmadu Bello Way, Sheikh Gumi Market and Kawo areas were closed as at 10a.m today in the city.
A trader , Chimezie Okonkwo who closed his Ahmadu bello Way electronic shop said, ” I am not ready to die or lose my goods”.
According to him, the Igbos made phone calls and passed the information that all shops be closed because the last week Tuesday’s violence claimed the lives of some Igbo traders, with their wares looted.
Kaduna Police Public Relations, DSP Aminu Lawan dispelled the rumour in an interview with P.M.News.
“The rumour is totally unfounded , untrue, baseless and mischievous and should be disregarded,” Aminu stated.
Aminu however, assured the residents that the police in the state are very much alive to their responsibilities .
He also hinted that to further forestall breach of public peace ,the police have deployed more personnel to beef up security within the metropolis and maintain law and order.
Kaduna, the former political headquarters of Northern Nigeria, has been a religiously and ethnically divided city, with Muslims and Christians partitioned in separate areas of the city. And it has witnessed many clashes between ethnic and religious groups.
Tension was first raised late Wednesday, when a car parked on the side of the road blew up, although no one was hurt and there were no indications that a bomb was involved, according to regional army spokesman Colonel Sani Usman.
Nigeria’s Boko Haram Islamists carried out three suicide attacks on churches in Kaduna and the nearby city of Zaria last month and residents “panicked unnecessarily,” fearing the group may have struck again, Usman said.
By Thursday morning, the city was rife with baseless reports that Muslims, angry over the death of their relatives during religious-fuelled rioting last month, were planning protests in Kaduna’s Christian southern half.
“I received a call from a teacher at Christ Church School that I should come and take my children back home,” Esther Dada told AFP. “I arrived there and saw parents picking up their kids, saying there was an SMS that Muslims are going to protest.”
Her account was supported by other residents, and Kaduna state police spokesman Aminu Lawan confirmed that such a text message had circulated widely around the city, but insisted that reports of a planned protest were untrue.
Shehu Sani, a prominent rights activist in Kaduna, said the sequence highlights the persisting anxiety in the city, still under curfew, after violence by rival religious mobs last month left at least 61 people dead.
Christian groups, furious over the June 17 church bombings, rampaged around Kaduna, burning mosques and killing Muslims, burning some of their victims.
The following day Muslim groups responded, killing several of their Christian neighbours.
“There is this fear of the continuation of the violence,” Sani said.
.With additional reports by AFP