Tears, tears and tears have continued to flow ceaselessly following the bomb blast at Nyanyan, Abuja. Indeed, it was an unsettling experience for Vanguard Features Levinus Nwabughiogu and Victoria Ojeme as they compiled this report from the scene of the tragedy.
GORY, horrific and bizarre. That was the sight that unsettled everyone. Those who arrived the scene before the evacuation exercise would, at first glance, think it was an abattoir.
There, they littered the ground. They were bodies of human beings; the remains those who met their tragic end now covered in the pool of their own blood.
As you looked further around the perimeter, bits and pieces of human parts severed from the body trunks littered the entire landscape. They were victims of the dastardly bomb attack at Nyanyan bus terminal in Abuja.
Then there is the odious stench at the scene, a tell-tale of the putrifying blood of the innocent Nigerians whose crime was that they made out very early in the morning to catch a bus to their offices and other destinations.
Of course, time was 6 am that Monday and you can imagine the rush on Abuja- Nyanyan Keffi road.
On any other day, it can be frustrating being on a traffic on that road let alone on Monday morning. Believe this, half of those who work and do business in Abuja metropolis reside along that area, being a suburb with relatively cheap accommodation.
And so, the best way to beat the traffic jam is always to wake up at the first cock row and leave for the business of the day. The drive, without traffic hiccups could arguably be 15 minutes.
Of course, it was a blast, a resounding blast that created a hole in the middle of the park where the evil red Volkswagen-Sharon bus which was used by the dare- devil bombers to smuggle the bombs parked.
With a sound that shook many houses within, 71 persons got killed while a total 124 persons were left critically injured. This was the police official figure. But eyewitnesses disagreed with the figure. In their estimation, it was over 150 persons.
Now, there was this 15-year- old boy whose legs were shattered by the gruesome explosion. The boy had cried: “Mummy! mummy!!, don’t let me die” as he held on to his mother in the midst of the melee that ensued.
Also, an eyewitness who simply identified himself as Romanus said human parts and pieces of flesh were thrown to different parts of the garage and beyond. Bodies upon bodies were picked. The injured were taken to different hospitals within and around Abuja.
According to the Press Officer of NEMA, Mr. Manzo Ezekiel, who spoke to Vanguard Features VF on Monday, the victims were distributed as follows:
”In Abuja Clinic, we have four injured people, Nyanya Hospital 11 injured, Nigerian Customs Service Hospital, 14 injured and one person dead, Asokoro General Hospital, we have 25 injured , 27 dead, Maitama 27 injured, 14 dead, Wuse 10 injured, 15 dead, National Hospital 25 injured, 14 dead, Garki Hospital one injured, Mararaba General Hospital, we have seven injured. So, by and large, Asokoro has the largest death figure,” he said.
But as at yesterday, the figure has risen to 75 for the dead, while 216 were injured. This is, according to the Minister of Health, Professor Onyebuchi Chukwu who briefed Journalists at the National Hospital in Abuja.
Meanwhile, there is a string of damage. In all, 16 luxurious buses otherwise called El- Rufia buses whose capacity could be put at 70, including those standing, were either smashed or burnt. Similarly, 24 other types of vehicles were equally damaged. Several motor cycles and a tricycle were also burnt.
How the act was carried out: Eye witnesses said 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 ready to leave for town.
Vanguard Features 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 change” to settle his ‘passengers’.
About five minutes of their hurried departure, the explosion followed, destroying everything, both animate and inanimate that was near the bus.
When the Minister of Health, Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu, alongside some journalists on Tuesday, visited hospitals in the Federal Capital Territory to assess the well-being of the affected persons, some of of the victims decried the security situation in Nigeria.
Mr Audu Joseph: “I was only standing and trying to move my bike which I normally use to work every day and the next thing I heard was a very loud noise. Immediately I ran away. As we speak, I do not know the where about of my bicycle
“My advise to the government is that they should assist those who lost their loved ones. The government should also ensure adequate security at the parks; they should not only be collecting money for ticket but they should consider the life of the people first.
Rekia Suleiman : “I had bought my ticket and all the passengers were in the vehicle waiting for the bus to move. The moment the bus driver started the engine, I heard this loud cry and the next thing I saw was fire all over the park. All I can say is thank God for keeping me alive”.
Saidu : “I sell eye glasses and wallet. I was in one of the El-Rufai Buses doing my normal business; the only thing I remembered was that I felt something lifting me up and I found myself in the hospital. I thank God for being alive”.
Nasiru : “I am a wheelbarrow pusher. I was sitting by the road side when I heard the noise. I thought it was a tyre that exploded. I did not even know when I was brought to the hospital”.
Said Ainde: “I am a taxi driver, I was going to Wuse to pick my car. As I was waiting for a bus, I remember I heard a loud noise and everywhere became dark.
“What I will tell the government is that they should expand that park; it is too tight”.
The Minister who spoke on the need for expansion of trauma capacity in the country, said: “We are going to increase the capacity for receiving trauma cases because with what is happening in Nigeria we are beginning to have more physical trauma than ever before. For now the capacity is 60 and it will gradually reach to 100.
Relatives recount losses:
A relative of one of the dead victims, Sadiat, who could not hold back her tears, told VF that his nephew was to travel to Taraba and left home about to 5 am in spite of the fact they live not far away from the park, just for him to catch the first bus since Taraba is far only to hear deafening sound of a blast and rushed to the scene.
She said it took quite some time before she could locate her nephew’s charred body with the cloth he wore.
At the Asokoro General Hospital, Miss Adigun Bidemi who was looking for her brother, Mr. Gbenga Oladele an architect, said her mother called her and told her of the blast and that her brother used to join the high capacity bus to work.
Ihedioha condemns Nyanya blast, condoles with victims
Meanwhile, the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr. Emeka Ihedioha has condemned in strong terms Monday morning’s bomb blast. The Deputy Speaker said perpetrators of the blast have committed “a mindless, heinous and unwarranted wickedness against innocent lives that have been cut short in another unexplainable orgy of bloodletting”.
He urged security agencies to go the extra mile to bring those behind the dastardly act to book while offering deep condolences to the families that have lost loved ones and those injured in the unfortunate incident.
According to him, Nigerians of goodwill join those affected in this national moment of grief as they are not alone in this trying time of violence and insurgency plaguing the country. He called for prayers for Nigeria and urged members of the public to be extra vigilant and offer necessary cooperation to security agents as they strive to tackle insecurity in the land.
*First lady too
The First Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan has also expressed shock at the dastardly act of terrorism perpetrated in the early hours of Monday at Nyanya Motor Park in Abuja, saying it is unwarranted wickedness to fellow Nigerians.
A statement signed by Ayo Adewuyi quoted the first lady as describing the killing of innocent souls as a crime against humanity, which must be condemned by all Nigerians.
While commiserating with the families of those who lost their loved ones, she prayed that God Almighty will continue to console them and grant them enduring fortitude to bear the irreplaceable loss.