Thousands of Muslims celebrating Maulud, which is the birthday of holy Prophet Muhammad, on Thursday escaped what would have possibly been an all-time record calamity, had some eagled-eyed vigilante operatives not intercepted five food flasks filled with bombs outside a popular Maiduguri mosque.
Five suspects believed to be members of Boko Haram loaded five big food flasks (otherwise known as coolers) on a hand-pushed cart and headed for Medinatu Mosques in the heart of Maiduguri, Borno state, where adherents of the Tijjaniya Islamic sect were marking the Maulud Nabiyi.
Fortunately, they were arrested before they got to their destination.
The arrested bombers, according to witnesses, earlier claimed the giant food flasks contained hot rice cooked to be delivered to the celebrating Muslims as gifts.
Normally, during such occasions, which normally attracts thousands of Muslims from different parts of the country, and even from outside it, to the popular Sheikh Abdulfathi mosque located in Medinatu neighbourhood of Old Maiduguri, individuals usually make charity donations in form foods and other consumables to help make visitors comfortable.
“When we saw them coming with handpush-cart filled with food flasks, we thought they were normal people that usually come here,” said Aminu Abdullahi, an operative of the Civillan-JTF.
“We almost passed them on when one of our members instinctively asked what the content of the large food flasks were, and they said ‘hot rice to be delivered to the Sheik’s guests’. All of us were almost deceived but when we insisted on seeing the flasks opened for proper inspection, the conveyors became jittery, and by the time we forced them to open the flask we were shocked to find coupled bombs in all the flasks”.
Witnesses said the arrested culprits were all surrounded before they could escape and handed over to the soldiers in the neighbourhood.
The spokesman of the Borno State branch of the Vigilante Group of Nigeria, Muhammed Abba Gava, who confirmed the development said, “it was an act of God that those bombs were Intercepted on time: we have over 5000 people converging in Abdulfathi’s mosque and who knows what could have become of them had those bombs detonated”.
Security has been beefed up in most parts of Maiduguri ahead Christmas on Friday.