The military authorities yesterday said the church member killed by fellow worshippers in Jos a week ago was the same person thought to have facilitated entrance for a suicide bomber into the COCIN church premises.
Adams Joseph Ashaba was lynched allegedly because he was seen alighting from the suicide bomber’s car shortly before the blast penultimate Sunday, but it later emerged that he was member of the attacked Church of Christ in Nigeria.
After the deadly bombing, church leaders alleged that a military man was noticed assisting the car bomber to gain entrance into the church.But the Military authorities yesterday said there was no solider close to the church as alleged, and that the late Ashaba was the person attacked by the worshippers in the belief that he aided the bombing.
“During investigation, it was discovered that the alleged suicide bomber who was lynched to death by worshippers and in military uniform was same Adams Joseph Ashaba,” Director of Information of the Nigerian Navy, Commodore Kabir Aliyu, said at the briefing in Abuja by the Joint Security Information Managers Committee.
Reading from a prepared text, Aliyu said, “The Defence Headquarters wishes to clarify that contrary to the earlier report that a soldier was lynched by aggrieved members of the church for allowing the bomber to gain access into the church premises, no soldier was anywhere close to the church before the explosion.
“Investigation revealed that on February 27, one Mr. Julius came to the Special Task Force (STF) headquarters to explain of his missing brother, one Mr. Adams Joseph Ashaba.
“He claimed that the said person was at the COCIN Church headquarters on Sunday, February 26, to worship when the explosion rocked the area.
“He later confirmed that he was informed that his brother’s dead body was picked in a bush by men of the civil defence corps and deposited at the Jos University Teaching Hospital mortuary.
“He then went to the JUTH where he identified the corpse as his brother, Mr. Ashaba, and was directed by the hospital staff to go to STF for clearance.
“During investigation, it was discovered that the alleged suicide bomber who was lynched to death by worshippers and in military uniform was same Adams Joseph Ashaba.
“With this development, Reverend John D. Harung and two other clergy men from the COCIN headquarters were invited to the headquarters of the STF to ascertain that he was a member of their church and not a soldier as alleged.
“The hasty allegation levelled against the military in the unfortunate incident is a calculated attempt to frustrate the operations of the JTF by the same elements who have been unduly calling for the withdrawal of the STF in Plateau state.”
In their account of the bombing in Jos, worshippers said they saw a Golf car with two men arriving at the gate of the church on February 26 and made attempt to enter the premises.
The church security, made up of Boys Brigade volunteers, asked the men to go to the parking lot outside the premises of the church. But a man in military uniform, who was believed to have alighted from the car, intervened, asking the security guards to allow the driver into the premises.
Witnesses said as soon as the car passed the gate, it exploded, killing the driver, while the other person at the front passenger’s seat attempted to escape but was seized and lynched by a mob.
Worshippers also claimed that the solider seen at the scene was attacked and wounded.
Hours after the attack, a purported spokesman for Boko Haram told journalists in Maiduguri by telephone that the sect was behind the bombing.
But on the same in nearby Miya Barkatai in Bauchi State, a bomb attack on a COCIN church by eight Christian men was foiled. The eight men were arrested, detained in Bauchi and later moved to Abuja by the police.
via Daily Trust