- The Nigerian government has been urged to ensure that victims of insurgent activities across the country receive the support they need to live a better live
- This call was made by the chairman of the Bomb Blast Victims Association of Nigeria, Kayode Olatunji as the eighth anniversary of the Nyanya bomb blast incident
- Olatunji also called for investigation into the support fund raised for the purpose of rendering help to victims of insurgency in Nigeria
Victims of various bomb blasts across Nigeria have decried the neglect they face from the Nigerian government since their different ordeals which in some cases have lasted several years.
The victims under the Bomb Blast Victims Association of Nigeria said the Nigerian government has its interest fixated on the insurgents who cause all sorts of harm to law abiding citizens than those who bear the brunt of their crimes.
This was disclosed by Kayode Olatuniji, the chairman of the association at a one-day programme to mark the eight years anniversary of the April 14, 2014, Nyanya twin bomb blasts.
Themed, Eight Years After Nyanya Bomb Blast: The State of Mind of the Victims and Survivors, the event was organised by Speak Up Stand Up in collaboration with Afrika Youth Movement, Nigeria Youth, Centre for Youth Advocacy and Development and Vice.
The event took place at the Nyanya Motor Park, Nyanya in Abuja on Friday, February 25.
Continuing, Olatunji said several members of the association have been left with no form of rehabilitation, detraumatisation support or help from the Nigerian government.
The Suleja bomb blast at INEC’s office
Caught up in the April 8, 2011, Suleja bomb blast at the office of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Olatunji who now limps also suffers from a bad sight as a result of the incident.
BBC had reported that the incident at the INEC office killed at least six people including members of the National Youth Service Corps hours before polls were due to open for the parliamentary elections.
From losing everything to missing hospital files
Recounting his personal experience Olatunji said he lost everything he had lived and worked for in life.
Olatunji reliving his ordeal added:
“I lost everything, it was only God that I didn’t lose; I lost my sight, I was just on the medical check because I went to recalibrate my glasses two days ago.
“When I went for orthopaedic I told the doctor that I was having back pain, he said he doesn’t even want to see my x-ray because nobody ever believed I could walk with my legs again. and with all this, we have got no dime, not aid from the Nigerian government.”
Narrating the plight of his members, Olatunji said victims of bomb blasts have continued to suffer several challenges.
Some of these challenges he said, includes funding medical bills and psychosocial therapy without support from the government.
“We should also bear in mind that victims also must not be driven to violence for us to be recognised.”
“The Bomb Victims Association of Nigeria was founded on April 8, 2014, with members drawn all over Nigeria, we come from all the six geopolitical zones and we are all united by our scars and trauma.”
Stating that for him and several members of the association, Nigeria has failed to become an ideal society.
“This is because no ideal society will prefer the insurgents to the victims of insurgency themselves.
“Years and years roll in, and we’ve seen different programmes for the insurgents; we have their deradicalisation, rehabilitation and in some cases, we’ve seen the government sponsoring them abroad and recruiting them in the military without even considering the victims.”
Also recalling that about N54 billion was raised by the former administration for the support of bomb blasts victims, Olatunji said that not one member of the association benefitted from the find rasing.
Challenges faced by victims of bomb blasts in Nigeria
Olatunji also warned that several of bomb blast victims across the nation are dying in silence either from physical pain or their inability to sort out their medical bills.
“We have lots of people with millions of medical bills on their necks, the majority of the victims are even yet to be de-traumatised.
“My members have not been de-traumatised, my members have not been rehabilitated not to talk of even compensation.”
“We have people who have no limbs, who have been disabled from doing their normal businesses and nobody cares.”
Further listing some members of the association who have suffered or even passed on due to the aftermath of their ordeal, Olatunji called for investigation into the financial activities of the Victims’ Support Fund, an agency established for support those affected by insurgency.
“We lost one Solomon Musa in 2014, he was one of our board of trustees and nobody knew he had complications. He was always having convulsions because the bomb affected his brain. Nobody knew, and he was looking for money, the next thing we heard was that Musa was dead.”
“We have Thomas Adoche here whose stomach was ruptured and all his intestines were out, he cannot live a normal life again.”
Olatunji warned that it is wrong for Nigeria as a nation to have victims of bomb blast who continue to live as victims for the rest of their lives.
Lamenting, he appealed:
“We can’t continue being victims for the rest of our lives, I hope that one day our members will be taken care of and then we can move from being victims to survivors.”
Details of funds raised for bomb blast victims’ support
In what seems to be a case of corruption, Olatunji alleged that funds raised for the support of victims of bomb blast incidents in the country cannot be accounted for at the moment.
He said that a directive for the payment of N20 million each to different hospitals in Abuja for the of treatment of victims of bomb blast never happened.
“They said they paid N20 million into all hospitals in Abuja for this purpose and our findings show that the money promised was still being owed by the federal government.
“At the university of Abuja teaching hospital, my file got missing, they seized my file because I have not paid for any of my surgeries likewise all other victims.”
Speaking to Legit.ng, Ene Audu, an advocate for the Speak Out Stand Out program said the project focuses on peace building, national reconcilation and national healing for these victims.
Audu noted that the SUSO program seeks to promote peace to build trust and hope in communities.
“I decided to focus on victims of the Nyanya bomb blast, how have they been fairing and surviving. Have they been able to heal, have they been able to forgive and move on, have they been able to reconcile with the society?
“And during our research we found out that many of them are yet to heal, they are still very bitter, filled with resentment and anger. And it’s so unfortunate because these people are compatriots, they are Nigerians and need to be taken care of and treated well by the country they seem to love dearly.”
Noting that some of the victims already lost hope and are angered, Audu said her organisation through the SUSO program have been working to encourage the rehabilitation of these bomb blast victims.
“We try to find ways to encourage them to forgive and heal and then reconcile with society.
“To see how we can help them become stable again because many of them have lost their self-esteem, lost family members, lost their joy, they’ve lost their physical looks. Some of them obviously don’t look like they use to look before the incident.”
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Meanwhile, the minister of information and culture, Lai Mohammed, on Thursday, February 3, said the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) had uncovered 96 financiers of Boko Haram and ISWAP.
Mohammed at a briefing on the anti-corruption fight of President Muhammadu Buhari also revealed that the NFIU has exposed 424 associates/supporters of the financiers, 123 firms, and 33 bureaux de change linked with insurgency.
Even more, the minister disclosed that the agency had identified 26 suspected bandits/kidnappers and seven accomplices, adding that 45 of the suspects will soon be prosecuted.