Last year when they struck, members of the Boko Haram group spread their violence across states such as Borno, Bauchi and Kano. Little wonder officials in those states are skittish following last week’s resurgence of violence in Bauchi by suspected members of the same group.
At the height of the Boko Haram insurrection in 2009, the sect members ambushed policemen at the Wudil Divisional headquarters and fought security operatives in bloody encounters. No fewer than 25 members of the group, whose cases are yet to be dispensed with, are still held at the Kano Central Prison, not too far away from the city’s main praying ground, the Kofar Mata eid praying ground.
Days before last Friday’s Sallah celebration, there was noticeable heavy presence of security officials, including detachment of the army, across Kano city. On Thursday, this was reinforced, as about 15 trucks loaded with mobile police were spotted moving around every nook and cranny of the city in a show of force.
Heavily armed military and mobile police took over Kano Central Mosque ahead of the Eid el Fitr prayer session, held to mark the end of the Ramadan. Movement of vehicles to the praying ground were restricted, just as Muslim faithful were allowed entrance after they have been thoroughly searched by the security men.
There was unusual tight security around the governor, Ibrahim Shekarau, as stern looking soldiers surrounded his official cars, with an armoured tank, during his trip to the mosque for prayers from his Government House residence, about three kilometres away.
At the end of the prayers, the soldiers accompanied Mr Shekarau’s convoy to the Government House, leaving many residents who were not used to this bizarre style pondering what must have gone wrong on a day that should be celebrated.
Top security sources in the state who spoke on condition of anonymity said that the heavy presence of the military is because of security reports on possible attacks by the members of the Boko Haram. The source added that the tight security is owing to fear that the members of the dreaded sect could use the celebration day to attack the governor and other targets.
However, the Sallah day was celebrated peacefully, as Mr Shekarau joined thousands to offer prayers and urged Kano residents to remain peaceful at all times. Mr Shekarau said that this year’s Sallah festivities called for double sober reflections and appreciation, as it coincides with the 50th anniversary of our country’s nationhood.
He added that his government was working to ensure that security of lives and property is respected in the state and called on the people to go about their duties without fear.
The emir of Kano, Ado Bayero, expressed gratitude to Allah for bringing an end to religious and sectional crises in the state. “We hope that the peaceful development has come to stay,” he said, calling on all in the state to continue to cooperate with security agents for the maintenance of peace and stability.
He also called on the people of the state not to take for granted the recent successes recorded in the fight against polio, and maintain vigilance at all times. He cautioned residents to take all preventive measures to check the spread of cholera, which is currently ravaging neighboring states.
A senior special adviser to Mr Shakarau, Sule Yau Sule, said the heavy security in the state was proactive.
“After the security council meeting yesterday, the Bauchi State case was reviewed and that is why there is heavy presence of security in Kano to ward off any threat,” he said.