BY EBUN SESSOU & MONSUR OLOWOOPEJO
For 84 families of 2002 Ikeja bomb blast, January 27, 2002 will forever remain a nightmare. This is because the pains and agony they feel as a result of the death of their loved ones are yet to heal.
To worsen the situation, the compensation that was supposed to be given them by the state government is yet to be paid.
At the 10th anniversary of the bomb blast, the state government according to them compensated 70 families out of 154 families and promised to compensate others.
Two years after, the unpaid families are still agitating and crying that they have been neglected.
Recently, they staged a protest at the Lagos state House of Assembly expressing alleged abandonment by the state government.
The leader of the group, Comrade Nurudeen Oyegbemi lamented that, the state government had neglected them and had failed to fulfil its promises.
Narrating his ordeal to Saturday Vanguard, he said, “At the 10th anniversary of the blast in 2012, 70 families were compensated while 85 families were neglected.
Since the event, we have written several petitions and have held meetings with both state government and Lagos state House of Assembly to no avail.
“I lost my 14-year old son, Olalekan Oyegbemi. He was among those who were drowned in the canal”.
Another relative, Alhaji Surujudeen Kareem who lost his 19- year old son said that on that fateful day, he sent his boy on an errand but he hasn’t come back since then.
His words: “I lost a boy of 19 years. I sent him on an errand but unfortuantely, he hasn’t come back home until today. Since, then, I have been incomplete. I went to different police stations, mortuaries and even maximum prison, I did not see my son”, he said.
He explained that, “In 2012, when the names of people were compiled, the former president of our group, Mr. Majekodunmi submitted 70 names to the state government and said that the government would attend to others. So, when we met at Oke-Afa, the government commiserated with us and promised to compensate other families. But, two years later, there is nothing”, he added.
Mr Eseh Christopher who lost his 5-year-old daughter to the incident said, “I lost a daughter in the scenario. On that fateful day, we were preparing to go for second service. So, when the incident happened, the elder brother who was 20 years old,carried her and ran for safety only to find themselves in the canal.
“It was by God’s grace that the elder brother was saved. Since then, I have not been able to come out of the shock. It was not easy.
“The only thing that burdens us is that if the government of the day knows the gravity of what had befallen us, it wouldn’t have abondoned us.
“I am still nursing the injury my son incured from that incident. He developed a skin problem while my wife lost her memory. I lost control of myself as a result. I lost my hearing. I can only hear through an aid.
“The truth is that if the government of the day had fulfilled its promise, the problem would not have been compounded. Ten years after the blast, government compensated 70 families out of 154 families that were affected.
“When we mounted pressure on the state government, we were told that, it was only the 70 families that were recognised and an officer in the Lagos state House of Assembly also confirmed that it was only the 70 families that state government would compensate.
“The then Chief of Staff, now Governor of Lagos State, Babatunde Fashola was the one who compiled the names of the 154 families and gave it to the federal government. It was from that list that we got all the names that we also presented to the state government.
“Even the governor himself at the 10th anniversary of the Ikeja bomb blast acknowledged that 70 names have been submitted and that other names are yet to be prepared. On Jan 27, 2014 when the governor was to commission the link bridge in Ejigbo, he made a statement that he was aware of the group that was agitating for non-payment of compensation. That the moment the verification exercise finishes, their money would be paid.
“That gave us an assurance and we prepared a letter consisting of the names of the remaining 84 families yet to be compensated. We wrote to the office of the Governor and sent to other agencies. Unfortunately, three months later, we don’t know the outcome of the verification exercise. Since January 24th, we have been liaising with the state assembly over the delay, what we heard was that the state government is not interested in the payment of the remaining 84 families”.
Mr. Ifeanyi Oyeme lamented that, his second son, Victor Oyeme was involved in the incident.His words: “Victor was among the missing children. It was a terrible experience. Six months after the bomb blast, my landlord drove me out of the house. He said, ‘our prayers were disturbing him’. Since, then my family and I have been living in a shop at Mieran area of Lagos State,” he added.
Alhaji Badaro Isiaka also lamented that his 15 years old son was lost to the blast. “I lost my 15 years old son who was about entering JSS3. He was in-charge of my business. Since, the incident, it has been difficult for me to utter a word. This problem has affected my life. I don’t have a room where I can lay my head. I sleep in a shop because I cannot afford accommodation. My family members have absconded because of this incident.