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Survivours of yesterday Abuja bomb blast and eyewitnesses have been recounting their experiences.
‘Mummy, mummy, don’t let me die’, the agonising cry of a 15-year-old boy, whose legs were shattered and holding on to his mother trailed the deafening bomb explosion reverberating through the Federal Capital City. A woman was lying face down without limbs while another who was surrounded by her children, struggled for life before giving up in their arms.
Several other corpses littered the ground in the midst of the injured, following the massive bomb blast that rocked the crowded Nyanya Bus Terminus, at 6.45 am yesterday. No less than 88 residents of the densely populated slum located at the suburb of the Federal Capital City were killed while over 200 sustained various degrees of injuries.
Some of the dead were burnt beyond recognition, while others were blown into pieces as only their severed parts were packed into bags by rescue workers. Over 40 vehicles were also destroyed.
Although Police Spokesman, Mr. Frank Mba, put the death toll at 71 and 124 injured, eye witnesses and hospital sources said that the dead were far more than the official figure. An eyewitness who simply identified himself as Romanus said pieces of human flesh were flung to different parts of the motor park and beyond.
When Vanguard visited the scene of the blast, there were pools of fresh human blood which emitted a very strong smell. The explosion caused extensive damage at the park.
Charred remains of at least seven cars, as well as six buses were seen at the scene of the incident as a joint team of different security forces battled to evacuate the dead and injured.
According to eye witnesses, a man drove a red Volkswagen space bus into the premises of the big capacity bus terminus popularly called El Rufai Buses and parked in front of two of the buses which were loaded with passengers and almost moving to the city centre.
Vanguard gathered that upon protest from drivers of the buses that he was obstructing their exit, the driver who allegedly came with four other passengers reportedly said he was going to get some lower denominations of money to settle his ‘passengers’. It was learnt that just about five minutes after the driver and the passengers left the Volkswagen bus, it exploded, killing everyone near it.
A relative of one of the dead victims, Sadiat, who could not hold back tears, told Vanguard that his nephew was to travel to Taraba and left home about to 5 am in spite of the fact that they live not far away from the park just for him to catch the first bus since Taraba is far.
“Only for me to hear deafening sound of a blast and rushed to the scene. It took quite some time before I could locate my nephew’s charred body and identified him with his cloth. I could only identify the boy with torn cloth he wore”, she said as she wept sorely.
At the Asokoro General Hospital, relatives of the victims gathered in different corners, waiting to identify their relatives, who were probably involved in the bomb blast.
Miss Adigun Bidemi who was looking for her brother, Mr. Gbenga Oladele an architect said:
“My mother called me to tell me of the blast and that my brother used to join the high capacity buses to work. My mother and my brother left home together this morning but parted ways at the park shortly before the explosion and we have not been able to contact the young man who headed for the high capacity bus. My mum called me and said that there was a bomb blast at Nyanya, so we went there but we could not find him, we had gone to the National Hospital but we did not see him, so that is why we are here to check on him, but they did not allow us in to check”
One of the victims admitted at the Wuse General Hospital who gave his name as Cosmas Ugwuanyifrom Enugu State told Vanguard that he was on queue to enter the El-Rufai bus when the blast occurred. Though, Mr. Ugwuanyi’s case was not so critical, the blast affected his eardrum and he was having difficulties hearing what people were saying. Another survivor of the blast who escaped unscathed, said his survival without a scratch was because of providence. The victim, who was still in shock as at the time he was responding to questions said he was grateful to God for being gracious to him.Narrating what he witnessed, the victim who wouldn’t mention his name said:
“I went to Nyanya to pick my friends. I was under the Nyanya Bridge to pick them, one person sat with me in the front, while the other three people sat at the back. I had to enter the Park to pick them because the Task Force would not allow people to pick passengers under the Bridge.
We all saw the commotion that was happening as a car drove into the park and the people were complaining about the driver. The last person entering my car shut the door and I tried to move the car and everything went blank. The explosion threw me far away and scattered my car while all the four people with me in the car died.
I really can’t say what happened, I just saw myself here, they kept me on a wheel chair, but I got up to call my people.”
As he turned round, some of his relatives arrived the hospital, jubilated with him, but the medical personnel took him in for further medical investigations.
An eye witness, Michael Chuks said:
“Our vehicle just left the park and we have not even left that junction close to the park when we heard loud noise, some people said it was a burst tyre but we knew that the noise was more than burst tyre so we parked and the next we saw were plenty of dead bodies on ground.
The blast affected more than four el-Rufai buses already loaded with passengers. There were more than 500 people. Very soon now the government will tell us that two or three people died.”
Narrating his ordeal, a survivor, James Igwe said a driver drove into the park and parked in front of the already loaded high capacity buses and disappeared before the explosion.
According to him:
“A vehicle came in and parked and the driver disappeared from the vehicle, there were many people inside all those long buses you are seeing now, this bomb exploded and everybody was running, some people were seriously injured and we were calling for help but nobody came, because some people were still unconscious and they were on the ground.
“The vehicle just drove in at a point where two “El-Rufai” buses which were full of passengers were about moving while many passengers were on queue struggling to board other vehicles.
I saw a red-coloured space wagon going inside the park as I was trying to cross the road back to where I kept my bread and other things which I sell but while waiting to make sure there was no traffic on the road before I crossed over, I heard a loud sound. I fell down but by the time I got up, there was thick smoke all over the place. I tried running but I couldn’t and when the smoke could clear a bit, I saw many people lying down dead while many vehicles were already on fire”.
“Those who planted the vehicle may have driven it to the place earlier and left. I believe they detonated the bomb through the use of a remote control as no one was inside the vehicle.”
How Alomo bitters saved my life
Narrating his experience to Vanguard at the scene of the incidence, Mr. Okorie who was visibly shaken said he could not explain why he took the decision to buy the bitters rather than go back to Masaka to bring back passengers to the bus terminus when the bomb blast took place.
According to him:
‘I Left my House at about six in the morning to bring passengers from Masaka, Mararaba, One Man Village and Ado to the Nyanya bus Terminus where they will board El-Rufai bus to the city centre. I dropped the last passenger under the Nyanya Bridge and was supposed to enter the park to carry passengers back to Masaka. Strangely, I had this sudden and strong feeling to drink before beginning the day’s job. So rather than enter the park, I took the next turn, went round the bridge and headed towards Jukwoyi to buy a bottle of Alomo”.
That decision turned out to be his saving grace as less than three minutes after he left the bus park, a huge explosion occured.
What will I tell our parents, cries Francis Alozie
“My sister, Miriam Edozie Chinyere, left this early around 6.30 in the morning to catch up with their staff bus which normally waits for them at Nyanya Bridge.
Unfortunately, when I heard about this bomb issue I tried calling her but her number was not going through, all the two numbers were switched off. And it is not as if the battery was down because I was the one that charged the battery of the two phones for her. She is my cousin, we live together at Kurudu, she works at the Airport.
I went to Nyanya Hospital first and they said that only one female patient was kept there. They said they had the list where all female patients were compiled.
I tried to see the names and I did not see anywhere they listed names and here too I did not see any names I am just confused. I don’t know what to do. If our parents start calling now, what will I tell them?
I passed out — Abdullahi
“I heard a big blast and fainted, when I opened my eyes, I saw wounds all over my hands, legs and head. About five El-Rufai buses were loading at the scene of the incident.”
Another victim who spoke to our reporter, Daniel Job, who lives in Mararaba said:
“I came with my brother to board a bus to town, and because there was no motor from Mararaba to town, I decided to enter a bike from Maraba to Nyanya, so that we could board a bus to town. After buying the ticket at Nyanya motor park, I discovered that the first bus had got filled up and we were asked to enter the second one, on our way to enter the next bus, that was when I heard the bomb explosion.
After the explosion, I discovered that I just had a little injury and started looking for my brother and sister, who were already inside the bus I missed.”
The worst hit
Meanwhile, the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Abubakar, has urged the citizens and the international community to remain calm and vigilant saying the Police and other security agencies were stepping up measures to uncover the authors of the crime and avoid a reoccurrence of this unfortunate incident.