Prior to the explosion at the popular Kasuwan Shanu (meat market), residents were rudely woken up at 12:45am on Monday by gunshots that boomed in parts of the city till 2pm.
No official reason was given by the military authorities for the gunshots which many of the residents feared were fired by advancing Boko Haram insurgents.
But when business and other activities were peaking in the city , a bomb went off in the meat market, sending cattle rustlers, butchers, their customers and passersby scampering to safety.
Although the News Agency of Nigeria quoted the state Commissioner of Police, Aderemi Opadokun, as saying that five people died in the blast.
Opadokun said the suspect, “who was shouting “Sai Buhari,’’ danced close to an abattoir in the market, before detonating the bomb strapped to his body when people had gathered around him.
‘‘Five people, including himself, died, while eight others sustained injuries,’’ he said, adding that policemen were mobilised to the scene to evacuate the corpses and convey the injured to the hospital.
It added that Lawal Kawu, a paramedic, said 31 bodies were taken to a teaching hospital in Maiduguri.
Abubakar Mohammed, a college student, also told the news agency that he had to run away after the blast shook their school building.
A member of the youth vigilante group, who spoke on condition of anonymity with one of our correspondents, however said that the suspect dropped a bag under a table in a stall with an excuse that he wanted to pick up something somewhere.
He added shortly after he left, the bomb he hid in the bag went off.
The spokesman for the National Emergency Management Agency, North-East, AbdulKadir Ibrahim, put the death toll at 17 while his Red Cross counterpart in Borno State, Umar Sadiq, said 13.
“Our men working to evacuate the dead corpses have revealed that no fewer than 17 persons were killed by the explosion, But I cannot give the number of those injured, “ Ibrahim said.
He explained that officials of NEMA and humanitarian agencies were “still taking the injured to Umaru Shehu General Hospital, Maiduguri.”
But Sadiq said 24 were injured.
The spokesman for the youth vigilante group, Jubrin Gunda,who shed light on the Monday night gunshots, said, “just like a few days back, the insurgents tried to invade the town via the same spot, Ajilari Cross, but they were repelled by the military.
“The insurgents who seem determined to invade Maiduguri were driven back by the battle-ready soldiers.”
He added,”As far as I am concerned, there was no casualty as the militants were successfully repelled. There was exchange of gunfire too but the insurgents quickly fled back when they saw that the military were on the alert.”
There were two bomb attacks on the city at the weekend that killed at least 30 people.
Meanwhile, the nation’s service chiefs will in a few days work out the modalties for the relocation of military’s Command Centre to Maiduguri as directed by President Muhammadu Buhari in his inaugural speech on Friday.
The Chief of Naval Staff, Vice- Admiral Usman Jibrin, disclosed this after the first meeting the military chiefs held with Buhari at the Defence House, Abuja on Tuesday.
“On the relocation of the command centre, we are the ones to go back and work on it. Soon it will be carried out, it is a presidential directive, it must be carried out, and we must do that as quickly as possible,” he told journalists who wanted to know the details of the meeting held behind closed doors.
Usman said they used the opportunity of the meeting to give Buhari security briefing of the country.
He said they succeeded in giving the President insight into the security situation in the country.
The CNS explained that it was the desire of the service chiefs to maintain the tempo with a view to sustaining the successes so far recorded until insurgents were completely routed.
He however appealed to all Nigerians to continue to support the military by providing operatives with the needed intelligence.
The information, he said, should include suspicious movements around them.
“You know as we continue to put pressure on them in the Sambisa area, they will try to run away from there and then create further problems, using improvised explosive devices,” he said.
Reminded that the terrorists were becoming more daring, he said,”Like I told you, we are sustaining the tempo and the successes we have recorded so far. We want to continue to maintain that and if there are any suggested solutions that require amendments or alteration of what we’re doing, why not? Most especially the more they give us the intelligence, the better.”
Others who attended the meeting were the Chief of Defence Staff, Alex Badeh; the Chief of Army Staff, Kenneth Minimah; the Chief of Air Staff, Adesola Amosun; and the Inspector-General of Police, Solomon Arase.
In Motokun, Patigi Local Government Area of Kwara State, a clash between the residents and Fulani herdsmen led to the death of five people.
A source told journalists in Ilorin on Tuesday that some people were also wounded during the incident which was confirmed by the LGA Chairman, Uthman Ndako.
Ndako added that with the intervention of security operatives normalcy had returned to the troubled community.
According to him the council as well as the Patigi Emirate Council led by Etsu Patigi, Ibrahim Umar, had peace meetings with leaders of the Fulani herdsmen and elders of the community to forestall further hostilities.
He said, “We have on standby, riot policemen now in Patigi. Our council is peaceful now. Presently Patigi is calm; the neighbouring village is also calm.”
The state Police Public Relations Officer, Okasanmi Ajayi, “I cannot tell you the actual number of people that died. People were also injured.
“But the place is now calm and people are going about their normal businesses.
“We are investigating to know the immediate and remote causes of the violence and how to prevent future clashes.”