Nyanya, Abuja: When thunder strikes same place three times

Nyanya, Abuja: When thunder strikes same place three times

Sunday, October 4, 2015 4:38 pm

Abandoned wares at scene of the blasts

Abandoned wares at scene of the blasts

Ayorinde Oluokun/Abuja

The popular idiom is that thunder doesn’t strike twice in the same place. But for those living close to or doing business or regular users of Nyanya Bus stop, in the suburb of the Nigerian Federal capital, Abuja, with Friday’s evening twin blasts, this idiom may no longer holds true.

The two bomb attacks which, according to the police were carried out by a male and a female suicide bombers was the third within less than 50 metres radius of the popular bus stop in less 18 months.

At least 88 people were killed while about 200 others were injured on 14 April 2014 when two bombs planted inside vehicles exploded at about 6:45am, the first of such attacks which also put the Nyanya, one of the biggest satellite towns of FCT on world map of terrorism.

Boko Haram claimed responsibility for the bomb attack in which most of the victims of the blasts were commuters on their way to work in the Abuja city center which was just about 14 kilometres away.

Relations of victims of the blast were yet to come to terms with their loss when another deadly bomb went off just a few metres from the scene of the first blast, killing at least 75 people and injuring 200 others.

Site of Friday’s evening blast was just adjacent to the scene of the two previous attacks. Unlike the two previous bombings at the area executed through the use of rigged vehicles, the latest attacks was carried out with the use of suicide bombers.

Aba Kyari during his visit to the scene

Aba Kyari during his visit to the scene

Boko Haram is said to be attracted to the usually crowded bus stop with high economic activity because of its potential in yielding high number of casualties. But the insurgent group Boko Haram is yet to claim responsibility for Friday’s bomb attack as at the time of writing this story.

Eyewitnesses said the casualty figure was low because the bomb attacks occurred late in the evening when most people have returned home. This was in addition to the fact that the area was not as busy as it used to be because most people are yet to come back from the Id-el-Kabir holiday.

Also, the demolition of shanties and shops in the area by the Federal Capital Authorities has over time reduced the crowd of people in the area. And though the death toll from the blast put at four including the two suicide bombers was considerably less than the casualty recorded in the past two bomb attacks, the impact was not less devastating on the people. Pieces of human flesh were being picked by men of the Police anti terrorism unit when this magazine visited the scene of the blast on Saturday morning. Though the actual scene of the blast was cordoned off by the Police, tell tale signs of the commotion and confusion caused by the twin blasts which eyewitnesses said took place around 10 pm include wares obviously hurriedly abandoned by sellers like roasted meat, popularly called Suya, cooked food still inside the containers where it was being sold, trays used to hawk odds and ends like Kolanuts, sweets etc, slippers and some vehicles among others. There was also one Godslove Haruna, one of the victims of the blasts was seen by journalists sitting under a three with different injuries to his hands, face and body. The obviously confused Haruna who said he was from Mangu Local Government Area of Plateau State refused to be taken to the hospital, preferring to be taken back to his home state instead. But the security and emergency officials had to finally force him into a vehicle to take him for treatment.

Cletus Eze

Cletus Eze

There were also at least three vehicles affected by the blasts. Eze Cletus, who supplies bread to the traders selling in the Bus stop, was just some steps away from the scene of the blasts. Though he did not sustain any injury he told this magazine that he was knocked down by the impact of the first blast.

The clearly despondent bread seller stayed some metres away on Saturday morning, wondering how and when he will be able to retrieve his brown Mazda car, the major tool of his bread distribution which has been cordoned off with the blast scene by the Police. The explosions shattered the windscreen of the car.

“What happened yesterday was that I came to see some of my customers because I supply bread to some of these traders. I came around something to or after 10 to see some of my customers, I have collected what I was supposed to collect from their hands, I was about to enter my car. But I had some differences with them and that was what made me not to enter my car immediately, but I was almost close to my car when the first explosion happened. It knocked me down, and I was thinking what was really happening,” Cletus told this magazine few meters away from the scene of the blasts on Saturday.

“When I tried to get up, the second explosion occurred and I now start crawling. I saw so many people on the floor, all my clothes are torn, I even thought I was injured. But I thank God, I was not injured,” he added. Cletus added that he was not sure about when he will be able to retrieve the vehicles, as security personnel he had approached asked him to wait until after investigations.

“ It (the vehicle) is there, they said I should wait until after investigations. Once they finish investigations, I can come for the vehicles,” he said.

Another eyewitness who described himself as Abdullahi who is living very close to the Bus stop said he was inside his house when he heard the first “boom,” which he thought from a tyre that got busted. “We were inside house, we heard the first “boom”, we thought it is a tyre that busted, then after the first boom, we heard another big explosion and we said this one is not a tyre, something has happened. We rushed outside and we see people running up and down and from there, we begin to find out where the explosion happened. I even saw human parts scattered on ground, but the security people came and pursue people away from there,” he said.

Mallam Sabo Mohammed, a trader in the market said one of the casualty of the blasts was a young man hawking assorted drinks, including the popular Lacasera. “It happened around 10.00 yesterday. We heard the first bomb, the second bomb went off about one minute later and after they saw three dead bodies. One of the bodies is that of the young man selling drinks. He was dead, but the two others were just injured. We put them on wheelbarrow and take them out of the place. Then an ambulance came to take them away later. The age of the young man should be around 26, 27,” he said.

This magazine gathered that most of the victims of the blast taken to the nearby Nyanya General hospital sustained serious fractions , dislocations and multiple injuries with fears that some of them may not survive. Indeed, all the injured persons have been evacuated to the more equipped Asokoro and National Hospital as at yesterday afternoon while reports indicated the two of them died yesterday, thus increasing the death toll from the blast to five.

Mallam Abba Kyari, Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari and David Babachir Lawal, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation on Saturday briefly visited the scene of the blasts. Though the two top government officials did not go to the actual scene of the blasts in their visits which lasted barely 15 minutes, they however requested to be briefed on the actual number of casualties from the bomb attack, which according was carried out by a male and female suicide bomber. Shuaib Gambo, Commissioner of Police, Counterterrorism Squad told the two men that the three lives lost to the blasts include that of the two suspected suicide bombers. Lawal and Kyari later left immediately after receiving the briefings to visit the victims of the blast on admission at National Hospital without speaking to journalists.

But residents of Nyanya are getting used to such visits and promises by top government officials which have so far failed to prevent such bomb attacks in the area. Their hope is that government will this time around fulfil this promise.

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