Members of the Boko Haram sect yesterday abducted the wife of the Camerounian Deputy Prime Minister in the northern Kolofata town, the country’s military has said.
A local religious leader, who is a mayor, was also abducted from the same town.
Boko Haram has stepped up cross-border attacks into Cameroun in recent weeks, as the army was deployed to the region.
Militants have kidnapped foreign nationals in northern Cameroun before, including a French family and Chinese workers.
The wife of Deputy Prime Minister Amadou Ali and her maid were taken in “a savage attack” on his home by Boko Haram militants yesterday, Information Minister, Issa Tchiroma, said.
But Mr. Ali, who was breaking his fast for the Islamic holy month of Ramadan at the time of the attack, managed to escape to a neighbouring town, Regional Commander, Col. Feliz Nji Formekong, told the Reuters news agency.
“The situation is very critical here now, and as I am talking to you, the Boko Haram elements are still in Kolofata town in a clash with our soldiers,” he added.
A local politician and his family were also abducted in a separate attack.
Also yesterday, the Nigeria Police Force announced the arrest of three suspects in connection with the suicide bomb attacks on St. Charles Catholic Church, Sabon Gari, Kano.
The police also arrested two suspects in connection with the foiled bomb attack at Isyaku Rabiu Mosque.
A suspected suicide bomber had reportedly thrown explosives across the fence of the church about 1:30pm, leaving five people dead.
The dead comprised two women, two men and a soldier.
Confirming the incident, Force Public Relations Officer, Frank Mba, said the police had begun investigation into the attack. He did not, however, disclose the identities of the victims.
“As part of ongoing investigations into the various terror-related incidents that occurred in Kano, police operatives in the ancient city have arrested five male suspects for their complicity in the attacks.
“Two were arrested in connection with the foiled bomb attack at Isyaku Rabiu Mosque, while three were arrested in connection with the attack at St. Charles Church.
“All suspects are currently undergoing interrogation at different police facilities,” he said.
He added that following the spate of incidents in Kano, the police have stepped up patrols and surveillance in the city and other major cities across the nation.
Meanwhile, President Goodluck Jonathan yesterday said that the country would have been thrown into a crisis if former Head of State, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, and the respected Islamic preacher, Sheik Dahiru Bauchi, had been killed in last Wednesday’s twinbomb attacks in Kaduna.
He said this when Vice- President Namadi Sambo led the FCT Muslim community to the Presidential Villa to pay him homage on the Eid-el-Fitri celebrations.
The President, however, said he thanked God for saving the lives of Buhari and Bauchi, preventing a major calamity that would have befallen the country.
Jonathan noted that the people who planned to kill them on the same day were clearly sons of the devil.
The President said: “You can imagine if these two people had died in those attacks. Sheik Bauchi is one of our top Islamic preachers, he has millions of followers; Buhari, a former Head of State, a leading political figure has massive supporters.
“On the same day, people wanted to kill them. Those who plan the attacks are clearly sons of the devil because if they had killed these two people we would not have been here today. This country would have been in turmoil, we couldn’t have gathered here to celebrate.
“We thank Allah for saving their lives and preventing a major calamity that would have befallen our country.”
The President pleaded with Nigerians, especially clerics, to be cautious on the messages they preach to their followers.
He charged them to preach peace and unity and not the gospel of hate, stressing that the country could not develop without peace.
Jonathan noted that people move away from conflict zones, stressing that communities, local governments, states and country would not develop in a conflict situation.
He also called on Nigerians to work with the government to collectively end the excesses of Boko Haram and other terrorist groups, saying that the government was doing everything humanly possible to end terrorism.
The President also disclosed that the Victims Support Fund established for those affected by insurgency would be inaugurated on Thursday, where reasonable amount of money was expected to be raised.
Jonathan stated that the fund would take care of widows, orphans and those whose business premises had been vandalized, while mosques and churches that had been destroyed would be rebuilt.
He, however, noted that private sector would contribute to the fund as government could not do it alone since huge sums would be needed to solve the problems.
The President also stressed that the government would continue to raise money to cushion the effect of the excesses of the insurgents while the security services would also be strengthened to confront the menace.
Earlier, Sambo had said that the Muslim community in the FCT was happy to pay homage to the President, who also participated in the Ramadan fast.
He prayed to God to continue to grant the President the wisdom and guidance to rule to ensure peace in the country and for all evils, including insurgency, to stop.
The vice-president also called on Nigerians to be their brother’s keepers and prayed for peace, tranquility and progress in the country for the achievement of the transformation agenda.
In a related development, the All Progressives Congress, APC, has accused the security agencies of parading “a pervert” as the suspected mastermind of the attack on Buhari.
The party also called for an international inquiry into the attempt on its leader to unravel the motive and the perpetrators of the dastardly act that could have plunged the country into a deep turmoil.
In a statement in Benin yesterday by its National Chairman, Chief John Odigie- Oyegun, the party said it did not have the confidence that the security agencies could carry out an impartial investigation as they appeared to be working for the government instead of the nation.
It said the call became urgent because the agents of the Federal Government had started muddying the waters with their statements and actions concerning the attack.
“How does one explain a situation in which a man who is nothing but a pervert is now being paraded as the suspected “mastermind” of the attack on Gen. Buhari?
“At what point was this man, who perhaps is nothing but a transvestite plying his trade, arrested? Is it not clear from the statement released by Gen. Buhari himself after the attack that it was clearly the handiwork of a suicide bomber?
“Could the person who drove the vehicle that was rammed into the General’s convoy have survived the explosion that was triggered by that action? Could the innocent passers-by who died in the blast not have been arrested and paraded as the suspected masterminds if they had survived the blast?
“Clearly, the arrest of the pervert and his sickening description as a ‘suspected mastermind’ have kick-started the process of muddying the waters as is usually the case with such high-profile cases.
“This is why an urgent international inquiry into the attack is desirable and imperative, and anyone who is committed to an impartial probe of the attack on the opposition leader should embrace our call,” APC said.
The party added that the call was justified by the statements and insinuations emanating from the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and the Presidency, pointing accusing fingers at the same party (APC) that was clearly the target of the failed assassination attempt on one of its top leaders.