By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJA – Dissatisfied by what they termed “total abandonment and neglect by the Federal government”, victims of bomb blasts that occurred in various parts of Northern Nigerian, yesterday, dragged the government before the National Human Rights Commission, NHRC.
In a petition they sent to the Commission, the group, said they have been “neglected and abandoned by the Federal Government as it has failed to keep to its promise of taking care of our medical bills, a promise made by the President, Dr Goodluck Jonathan at every visit he made to the scenes of the blasts and to the hospitals to visit victims of the bomb blasts.”
They decried that many of them lost their lives as a result of lack concern on the part of the government.
“Many underwent surgical operations in other hospitals after the initial hospitals at which they were hospitalized withdrew from handling their cases”, they added.
The petition was signed on behalf of other victims by one Mr Kayode Olatunji.
According to them, “Many who initially survived the bombing died months later as they could no longer cope with the exorbitant medical bills.
The victims said they recorded various degrees of injuries from bomb blasts which occurred at the Independent National Electoral Commission’s office in Suleja, Niger State, United Nations Building in Abuja, Nyanyan motor park among others.
”We are citizens of Nigeria who should enjoy safety and security of our lives like other citizens, so we deserve to be given proper attention.
“We therefore write to solicit for help from their human rights commission to cause the Federal Government to its pledges for our treatment.”
Responding to the petition, the Chairman of the Governing Council of the Commission, Dr Chidi Odinkalu assured the victims that the Federal Government remained committed to their welfare.
He explained that government’s commitment informed the creation of the Victim Support Fund.
He therefore advised the victims to come together and to reach out to other victims so that they could present a united front.
Odinkalu advised the victims to compile all necessary records including medical reports and evidence of bills paid, to enable the commission makes the necessary recommendations.
He said the commission was ready to work with the victims to table their grievances before appropriate authorities.
Odinkalu noted that there was no protocol to manage victims of bomb blasts adding that this was inexcusable.
He made a case for a policy establishing a protocol to manage victims of bomb blasts.
The victims said that most of them had mortgaged their inheritance and sold their properties to settle their medical expenses.
“Some have dropped out of schools and some are still on the sick bed,” they added.