How I Survived Kuje Blast, By Mother Of Five
Fifteen months and some days after the June 25 bomb blast at the gate of Emab plaza, beside Banex shopping complex Banex Plaza in Wuse 2, Abuja, eyewitnesses, on Saturday, recounted events leading to the twin blasts that shattered the peace of Kuje and Nyanya, two satellite towns of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) on Friday night, killing at least 20 and injuring 41.
Recounting events of that night in Kuje, Joyce Bello, a mother of five, told Sunday Independent: “I sell food in a restaurant, I was with one of my customers, then I heard a terrible sound, both of us were shocked. While we were, we heard the second blast, we couldn’t run again, the next thing I saw myself on the ground then I saw blood gushing out of my legs.
“I saw a lot of persons on the ground. It was just customer and I that were lucky. I couldn’t hear anything from them they were covered in blood, before someone came and rescued me and I was rushed to Nyanya hospital where I was treated and given drip. I have five children, I go there by six in the evening and close around 10 pm every night.”
Another eyewitness who spoke on condition of anonymity said, “I own a restaurant around that area. While we were getting set to close shop for the day’s business, we heard the sound of the blast and everywhere went blank immediately.”
Also speaking, Douglas Nnabueze, a trader, told our correspondent: “I was selling provisions with my brother, but he sells shoes. A customer came to buy something. Then, I noticed a car parked by the roadside, I told the driver to remove the car from there, but he refused, saying he wanted to go buy something nearby. Next thing I saw him leave the car. A woman followed him from a second car. After a while, I heard a bomb explode from the first vehicle, I fell on the ground. While I was trying to stand up the second explosion went off.”
Another eyewitness who spoke with Sunday Independent said the Kuje blast went off at the busy and densely populated market, when a man came pretending to want to change money and then dropped a bag allegedly containing the explosives. The ensuing explosion resulted in the death of about 15 persons.
Lawal Ibrahim, also an eyewitness, said: “I was at the scene of the Nyanya bomb blast. I sell shoes by the roadside there. I was attending to a customer, then the next thing I just heard the bomb explode twice by Jikwoyi road at about 10pm.
“Most people had already left the market because during the day time, it’s usually busy. When the bomb went off it was remaining just a few people. It is the police and NEMA that brought me from Nyanya General Hospital to Asokoro hospital.
“The response of the police was somehow swift, they helped me to the hospital, I thank them and I am happy. May God bless them.
According to yet another eyewitness at the scene: “I counted about 15 bodies lying on the ground and there was no vehicle to convey the victims, (until) a man brought a vehicle that later conveyed them to the hospital.”
While majority of the victims died in Kuje, the Nyanya blast killed five persons, including the suicide bomber.
According Abraham Gabriel, also eyewitness, the first explosion went off at 9.25pm in front of the Divisional Police Headquarters when a girl of about 15 years of age, detonated an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) which destroyed the fence of the station and threw her mangled body across the road.
Confirming this, the Divisional Police Officer, Aliyu Sani Omolori, explained that the bomber could not access the main gate of the station, because of the heavy security presence and instead moved toward the fence to detonate the bomb.
Head of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Mohammed Anas said the agency evacuated 20 dead bodies from the scene of the blast, while about 41 people with serious injuries were taken to the hospital. However, while others had been treated and discharged, 20 who were seriously injured in both blasts were left in the hospitals by Saturday evening.
According to him the Police Anti Bomb Squad, Fire Service, Soldiers were part of the rescue team.
As at time of this report the bomb experts were still searching for other possible undetonated bomb in the market.
Reacting to the blasts on Saturday, President Muhammadu Buhari, assured Nigerians of his determination to rid the country of extremism.
Speaking on Saturday morning after being briefed by a fact-finding team comprising the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Engr Babachir David Lawal; Chief of Staff, Mallam Abba Kyari; the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health and Federal Capital Territory; among others who visited Kuje and Nyanya venue of the terrorist attacks, the President said violent extremism must be wiped out to uproot terrorism from Nigeria.
A statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, quoted Buhari as reassuring that “the defeat of Boko Haram insurgency is in sight but to remove violence and make the country safe, we must tackle the prevalence of violent extremism. In doing this, we will learn from the experience of the international community.”
He also directed the security services to raise their surveillance activities to meet the challenges of “a retreating, desperate terrorist army” and for the general public to remain acutely aware of security in and around them.
He sympathised with families of the victims and the families of the over 100 others killed in similar incidents a few days ago in Borno State.
The fact-finding team also visited victims of the incidents at the National Hospital and the Maitama General Hospital, in addition to the wards and mortuaries, where they consoled grieving family members on behalf of the President.
Saraki, Dogara, APC
Also commenting, Senate President Bukola Saraki, in a statement on Saturday, called on security agencies to step up intelligence gathering activities.
Commending the quick response to the incidents and the prompt evacuation of both the dead and injured to medical facilities for medical attention, he urged Nigerians not to panic, because the renewed attacks are signs that the days of Boko Haram are numbered.
“We are definitely seeing the last days of these misguided elements. The resort to soft targets as their new mode of attack is a clear indication that there is tremendous heat on the insurgents from our gallant security forces who have vowed to vanquish these outlaws within the shortest possible time”, he added.
Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, in a statement, described the attacks as callous and saddening, noting that “with the successes being recorded by the military in the North East, it has become apparent that Boko Haram is facing imminent defeat after six years of terror reign in our country.
“These well-coordinated and planned attacks were carried out to instill fear in the minds of the citizens.
“While it is not in doubt that our security agencies are winning the war on terror, these kind of attacks show that there is much work to do about intelligence gathering and sharing.
“Terrorism cannot be totally defeated with physical might as terrorists resort to different means to carryout horrible and monstrous acts as these,” he added.
He called for more inter-agency intelligence gathering and sharing, being surest way to prevent any future attack, while Nigerian must “also be vigilant and security conscious and help the security agencies with information” ” the speaker added.
Also, the All Progressives Congress (APC), warned that no amount of cowardly attacks would save the Boko Haram terrorists from imminent defeat.
A statement issued in Lagos by its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, noted the avowed determination of the Buhari Administration to crush the sect, as shown by the string of successes recorded recently by the military.
The party urged Nigerians to be vigilant since Boko Haram members who have been smoked out of their strongholds may be seeking refuge elsewhere across the country.
Also, FCT Commissioner of Police Wilson Inalegwu assured Abuja residents “that the police and sister security agencies are on top of the situation. They should go about their normal business, but they should be very very vigilant and report any suspicious persons or movement to security agencies. They should also partner with us, in case their are new arrivals in their neighborhood, they should report any suspicious movement promptly to the law enforcement agencies.”