*243 injured, 16 luxury buses, 24 other vehicles burnt
*Eye-witnesses, survivors recount experiences
*We’ll defeat Boko Haram, Jonathan vows
ABUJA—‘Mummy, mummy, don’t let me die’, the agonising cry of a 15-year-old boy, whose legs were shattered and holding on to his mother trailed the deafening bomb explosion reverberating through the Federal Capital City. A woman was lying face down without limbs while another who was surrounded by her children, struggled for life before giving up in their arms. Several other corpses littered the ground in the midst of the injured, following the massive bomb blast that rocked the crowded Nyanya Bus Terminus, at 6.45 am yesterday. No less than 88 residents of the densely populated slum located at the suburb of the Federal Capital City were killed while over 200 sustained various degrees of injuries.
Some of the dead were burnt beyond recognition, while others were blown into pieces as only their severed parts were packed into bags by rescue workers. Over 40 vehicles were also destroyed.
The incident happened when the bus station which serves as a major terminus for commuters coming from satellite towns disembark before joining the high capacity luxury buses to the city centre.
Condemnations immediately greeted the gruesome incident just as survivours of the blast and eyewitnesses have been recounting their experiences.
Although Police Spokesman, Mr. Frank Mba, put the death toll at 71 and 124 injured, eye witnesses and hospital sources said that the dead were far more than the official figure.
An eyewitness who simply identified himself as Romanus said pieces of human flesh were flung to different parts of the motor park and beyond.
When Vanguard visited the scene of the blast, there were pools of fresh human blood which emitted a very strong smell. The explosion caused extensive damage at the park.
Charred remains of at least seven cars, as well as six buses were seen at the scene of the incident as a joint team of different security forces battled to evacuate the dead and injured.
How the bomb was planted
According to eye witnesses, a man drove a red Volkswagen space bus into the premises of the big capacity bus terminus popularly called El Rufai Buses and parked in front of two of the buses which were loaded with passengers and almost moving to the city centre.
Vanguard gathered that upon protest from drivers of the buses that he was obstructing their exit, the driver who allegedly came with four other passengers reportedly said he was going to get some lower denominations of money to settle his ‘passengers’.
It was learnt that just about five minutes after the driver and the passengers left the Volkswagen bus, it exploded, killing everyone near it.
The blast which left a large crater at the spot where the bus was parked also resulted in a huge fire which engulfed cars, the loaded and empty buses and all structures in the area.
At the scene of the blast, a pack of local delicacy, popularly called Okpa, whose owner was reportedly ripped into two was still intact, unaffected by the blast.
Piles of bags of intending passengers were scattered as far as over 30 metres. In the midst of concerted rescue efforts, mobile phones of some of the passengers who either died or sustained injuries from the blast were still heard ringing.
16 large SURE-P buses, popularly called El-Rufai buses and 24 others were either burnt or destroyed from the effect of the blast.
The National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki (Rtd);the Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh and all the service chiefs visited the scene of the incident.
Hospitals overwhelmed, call for blood
Hospitals across the capital city have sent out passionate appeals for voluntary blood donation from members of the public. They said that their blood banks were exhausted and that a large number of the injured had lost much blood and required transfusion.
The managements of the Asokoro Hospital and the National Hospital cried out that they had run out of blood and needed blood urgently to avoid losing those who suffered much blood loss in the incident.
Relatives recount losses
A relative of one of the dead victims, Sadiat, who could not hold back tears, told Vanguard that his nephew was to travel to Taraba and left home about to 5 am in spite of the fact that they live not far away from the park just for him to catch the first bus since Taraba is far. “Only for me to hear deafening sound of a blast and rushed to the scene. It took quite some time before I could locate my nephew’s charred body and identified him with his cloth. I could only identify the boy with torn cloth he wore”, she said as she wept sorely.
At the Asokoro General Hospital, relatives of the victims gathered in different corners, waiting to identify their relatives, who were probably involved in the bomb blast.
Miss Adigun Bidemi who was looking for her brother, Mr. Gbenga Oladele an architect said “my mother called me to tell me of the blast and that my brother used to join the high capacity buses to work. My mother and my brother left home together this morning but parted ways at the park shortly before the explosion and we have not been able to contact the young man who headed for the high capacity bus. My mum called me and said that there was a bomb blast at Nyanya, so we went there but we could not find him, we had gone to the National Hospital but we did not see him, so that is why we are here to check on him, but they did not allow us in to check”
Lucky survivors’ accounts
I was on the queue to enter a bus
One of the victims admitted at the Wuse General Hospital who gave his name as Cosmas Ugwuanyi from Enugu State told Vanguard that he was on queue to enter the El-Rufai bus when the blast occurred. Though, Mr. Ugwuanyi’s case was not so critical, the blast affected his eardrum and he was having difficulties hearing what people were saying.
The blast removed my shirt, scattered my car, killed my four friends- survivor
A survivor of the blast who escaped unscathed, said his survival without a scratch was because of providence.
The victim, who was still in shock as at the time he was responding to questions said he was grateful to God for being gracious to him.
Narrating what he witnessed, the victim who wouldn’t mention his name said: “I went to Nyanya to pick my friends. I was under the Nyanya Bridge to pick them, one person sat with me in the front, while the other three people sat at the back. I had to enter the Park to pick them because the Task Force would not allow people to pick passengers under the Bridge.
“We all saw the commotion that was happening as a car drove into the park and the people were complaining about the driver. The last person entering my car shut the door and I tried to move the car and everything went blank. The explosion threw me far away and scattered my car while all the four people with me in the car died.
“I really can’t say what happened, I just saw myself here, they kept me on a wheel chair, but I got up to call my people.”
As he turned round, some of his relatives arrived the hospital, jubilated with him, but the medical personnel took him in for further medical investigations.
An eye witness, Michael Chuks said: “Our vehicle just left the park and we have not even left that junction close to the park when we heard loud noise, some people said it was a burst tyre but we knew that the noise was more than burst tyre so we parked and the next we saw were plenty of dead bodies on ground.
“The blast affected more than four el-Rufai buses already loaded with passengers. There were more than 500 people. Very soon now the government will tell us that two or three people died.”
Narrating his ordeal, a survivor, James Igwe said a driver drove into the park and parked in front of the already loaded high capacity buses and disappeared before the explosion.
According to him: “A vehicle came in and parked and the driver disappeared from the vehicle, there were many people inside all those long buses you are seeing now, this bomb exploded and everybody was running, some people were seriously injured and we were calling for help but nobody came, because some people were still unconscious and they were on the ground.
How I cheated death —Chinenye
A food vendor who identified herself as Chinenye Emeka, was grateful to God for sparing her life as the explosion occurred immediately she stepped outside her shop and walked across the road to buy polythene bags with which to sell her snacks.
She, however, regretted that many other food vendors at the park died in the explosion.
Her account: “The vehicle just drove in at a point where two “El-Rufai” buses which were full of passengers were about moving while many passengers were on queue struggling to board other vehicles.
“I saw a red-coloured space wagon going inside the park as I was trying to cross the road back to where I kept my bread and other things which I sell but while waiting to make sure there was no traffic on the road before I crossed over, I heard a loud sound. I fell down but by the time I got up, there was thick smoke all over the place. I tried running but I couldn’t and when the smoke could clear a bit, I saw many people lying down dead while many vehicles were already on fire”.
Jeremiah Ofem, a civil servant had bruises but survived
Displaying his bruised body to Vanguard, Ofem insisted: “Those who planted the vehicle may have driven it to the place earlier and left. I believe they detonated the bomb through the use of a remote control as no one was inside the vehicle.”
Epuele was hit from a distance
One of the injured at the Nyanya General Hospital, Michael Epuele, who said he was a long distance driver at a near-by motor park, wondered how he was hit. He said he was hit even when he was many metres away from the point of explosion.
Epuele claimed that when he and others were being evacuated from the scene, he saw a big hole created following the blast. “I believe the blast was buried in the ground, maybe in the night, else, how come there was a very big hole at the scene,” he questioned.
How a local bitters saved my life
Though he was aware that driving under the influence of alcohol was a crime that could earn him either imprisonment or a fine if caught by law enforcement agents, Timothy Eze Okorie was grateful for yesterday’s decision to buy a bottle of Alomo, a local alcoholic bitters popular with artisans and commercial vehicle drivers across the country before beginning his job as a commercial bus driver.
Narrating his experience to Vanguard at the scene of the incidence, Mr. Okorie who was visibly shaken said he could not explain why he took the decision to buy the bitters rather than go back to Masaka to bring back passengers to the bus terminus when the bomb blast took place.
According to him, ‘I Left my House at about six in the morning to bring passengers from Masaka, Mararaba, One Man Village and Ado to the Nyanya bus Terminus where they will board El-Rufai bus to the city centre. I dropped the last passenger under the Nyanya Bridge and was supposed to enter the park to carry passengers back to Masaka. Strangely, I had this sudden and strong feeling to drink before beginning the day’s job. So rather than enter the park, I took the next turn, went round the bridge and headed towards Jukwoyi to buy a bottle of Alomo”.
That decision turned out to be his saving grace as less than three minutes after he left the bus park, a huge explosion occured.
What will I tell our parents, cries Francis Alozie
“My sister, Miriam Edozie Chinyere, left this early around 6.30 in the morning to catch up with their staff bus which normally waits for them at Nyanya Bridge.
Unfortunately, when I heard about this bomb issue I tried calling her but her number was not going through, all the two numbers were switched off. And it is not as if the battery was down because I was the one that charged the battery of the two phones for her. She is my cousin, we live together at Kurudu, she works at the Airport.
I went to Nyanya Hospital first and they said that only one female patient was kept there. They said they had the list where all female patients were compiled.
I tried to see the names and I did not see anywhere they listed names and here too I did not see any names I am just confused. I don’t know what to do. If our parents start calling now, what will I tell them?
I passed out — Abdullahi
One of the victims, who identified himself as Yaro Inusa Abdulahi, an Okada rider from Kano State, said, the blast occurred when he was trying to cross the road to see somebody when he heard a blast.
Abdulahi, who lives at national headquarters lodge, Karu, said: “I heard a big blast and fainted, when I opened my eyes, I saw wounds all over my hands, legs and head. About five El-Rufai buses were loading at the scene of the incident.”
Another victim who spoke to our reporter, Daniel Job, who lives in Mararaba said: “I came with my brother to board a bus to town, and because there was no motor from Mararaba to town, I decided to enter a bike from Maraba to Nyanya, so that we could board a bus to town. After buying the ticket at Nyanya motor park, I discovered that the first bus had got filled up and we were asked to enter the second one, on our way to enter the next bus, that was when I heard the bomb explosion.
After the explosion, I discovered that I just had a little injury and started looking for my brother and sister, who were already inside the bus I missed.”
I came out of the car through the window- Busayo
Another victim, Mr. Adeoye Busayo, 40 year-old security consultant at a private security firm in Abuja, said he left his house around 6.00 am with “my Nissan sunny car with some people I wanted to give a lift.
“When we got to Nyanya around 6:30 am, there was a little traffic between Skakoma and the check point. I was about 30 to 40 meters to Nyanya park; all of a sudden, I heard a terrible blast, and there was dust everywhere, people were running helter skelter. Everybody was panicking, though the sound was very terrifying, after the first blast, all my windscreen and side glasses were already shattered because of the vibration.
“Then I heard another blast. This time, I just heard a terrible noise at the roof of my car; I managed to escape through the window because the door could not open. I over-heard the people in my car shouting help, help and blood was gushing out of their bodies.
“At this point, the weather became dark because there was durst everywhere. We started running and I saw a lady fail down from my car after struggling to get out of the car through the back glass and fire from the car at my back caught her.
“Everybody behind me all left their cars and ran away, instead of people running for safety, because you could neither see your back nor your front, they ran to where the fire was raging because it was only that direction of the fire that was a little bit illuminated, that was what deceived a lot of people.”
Abdul Isiaka, a welder at Golden Club company in Nyanya, said: “We had been at the garage since 6 am and when we could not enter the first bus, we decided to enter the second bus, in the process of entering, all of a sudden, I saw smoke under the El-Rufai bus and we started running, after running to a distance, the bomb exploded, and trying to cross to the other side of the road, another one exploded, that was how I got injured.
“It did not take too long before the rescue team came, in fact I went to them because I was crying for help,” said the 23 year old Mararaba resident.
I just found my self on the ground- Sake
Another victim, Anquer Sake, 40, a public servant in Asokoro, who lives in Orozo area said: “I got to Nyanya park, got my ticket and queued, I just found myself on the ground, I did not know how I was brought here at Asokoro hospital. I just did my x-ray, waiting for the result because I got an injury on my head.
The worst hit
The worst hit were inter-state commuters going to the Northern states of Benue, Bauchi, Nassarawa, Gombe, Tarraba, as well as, workers leaving the park to the city centre.
Others were: Petty traders, food vendors, Okada riders, tea brewers popularly called Mai-Shai and vehicles conveying passengers to various locations within and outside the FCT.
Inside the hospitals
The effect of the explosion on the dead was so gruesome that at the Asokoro and Wuse general hospitals, as the bodies were seen mangled, charred and sickly to even look at.
At the Maitama General Hospital, where scores were rushed to, the Chief Medical Director, Dr. Adetoun Sotimehin confirmed to reporters that 14 dead bodies including women, men and youths were in the mortuary, two persons were on danger list (critical condition) while 27 others who sustained injuries were receiving treatment.
At Asokoro General Hospital, the Chief Medical Director, Ahmadu Abubakar confirmed that 27 dead bodies were brought to the hospital with 25 others receiving treatment for various degrees of injuries. Staff of the hospital were later heard announcing that they needed blood donors from among the crowd of people that gathered round to enable them administer them on some patients.
At the National Hospital Abuja, 30 bodies were confirmed to have been taken to the mortuary while 40 of those injured were receiving treatment for injuries sustained.
At the Wuse General Hospital, the Chief Medical Director, Dr. Obiora Chibundu was uncooperative, telling reporters to go to the office of the GM Hospital Management Board for casualty figures.
Vanguard, however went to the mortuary and counted 16 corpses of the elderly, men, women and young boys whose extremely burnt bodies were being covered with cellophane bags by officials of the hospital, assisted by the police, NEMA and Civil Defence personnel.
A list of another 51 persons containing those injured was made available to relations to check for their loved ones. On the list, 40 were classified as injured but recognizable while 11 were classified as injured but unrecognized.
At the Nyanya General Hospital, It was confirmed that over 100 persons with various degrees of injuries were rushed there for treatment while the dead were referred to other hospitals because the Nyanya hospital cannot boast of a functional mortuary presently.
At the Asokoro, Wuse and Maitama general hospitals, Vanguard observed that there was serious apprehension as scores of people who came to check if their relations were there could not get clear information of what to do.
Meanwhile, the Police authorities have released what they said is the official list of casualties, saying that 71 persons were confirmed dead while 124 were injured.
16 luxury buses belonging to the FCT, 24 other privately owned vehicles were damaged with three of the luxury buses burnt to ashes.
Mr Romanus Ugwu, an Abuja-based journalist, resident at Nyanya, said that he ran to the scene on hearing the blast.
Ugwu said what he saw could be best described as a “gory sight” because many people were burning in some cars and were calling for help that never came to them while some were on the ground, helpless without limbs.
“You have to be hard hearted to look at these things. I saw a woman lying face down without limbs while one, who was surrounded by her children, struggled for life and gave up in their arms.
“These attackers appear to be more proactive than our rescue organisations and security agencies because so many lives would have been saved if help had come in time.’’
Ugwu said he counted many bodies littered on the ground in the park, but could not say if all of them were dead.
Mr Abdulrazak Haruna of the Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) Response Unit of NSCDC, told NAN that he counted more than 100 bodies, including the injured while evacuating victims. “It is a sad experience. We counted 20 BRT buses, 14 cars, 24 commuter buses and 13 motorcycles.’’
Mr Femi Lawal, a survivor of the blast who could not contain his joy and gratitude to God for sparing him, said he had dropped from one of the green buses from One-man Village and was heading to the park when the blast went off.
Lawal said he fell and was dazed momentarily before realising what had happened.
He said that he heard a loud bang, which nearly blinded him, and saw a thick smoke while people ran in confusion.
The 32-year old man, who was apparently wounded on the wrist and neck, said “it is a day I will live to remember”.
A survivor, Prince Igwe, however, said a vehicle was driven into the park and parked in front of the already loaded high capacity buses.
“The driver hurriedly parked and disappeared shortly after the explosion went off. I was inside one of the buses; I struggled to come out.
“Many people died,” he said.
Security agencies on red alert in FCT— Mba
Abuja, Security agencies have been placed on red alert throughout the Federal Capital Territory following the explosion that occurred in Nyanya bus stop on Monday morning.
CSP Frank Mba, Police Force spokesman, told newsmen in Abuja at the scene of the incident that the blast occurred at about 6.55 a.m.
“The FCT police are already on red alert; security in and around Abuja is being strengthened; we are paying very close attention to all vulnerable points.
“We are also paying close attention to motor parks. We advise the public to avoid unnecessary huge crowd. We are also paying close attention to government buildings.
“We want to appeal for calm, cooperation and patience,” he said, describing the incident as sad.
Mba confirmed that 16 high capacity buses, some cars and motorcycles were affected in the explosion. He said investigation had begun.
“Experts from the Bomb Disposal Squad are on ground, the police are working with other security agencies.
“At this stage, we may not be able to give the casualty figure; the reasons are obvious; a lot of people are in the hospital; our detectives are visiting hospitals and taking count.
“We want to give you figures that we can back up with facts,” he said.
Remain calm — IGP
Meanwhile, the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Abubakar, has urged the citizens and the international community to remain calm and vigilant saying the Police and other security agencies were stepping up measures to uncover the authors of the crime and avoid a reoccurrence of this unfortunate incident.
Speaking during his visit to the scene of the explosion where he assessed the extent of damage and the impact on the surrounding environment, the IG noted that security agents have relentlessly worked round the clock with significant success to stave off such attacks on the Federal Capital and the entire country at large.
He therefore reassured Nigerians and foreign nationals that security agencies will do anything possible to further strengthen the security within and beyond Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
As a result, the IG directed all Police operatives to be on red alert. He has equally ordered the Police to intensify surveillance on all vulnerable targets within Abuja.
A statement signed by CSP Frank Mba said: “Meanwhile, the Police, supported by other law enforcement agencies, have commenced a full-scale investigation into the incident with the deployment of the Police Anti-Bomb Squad and other detectives to the scene with the view to solving the crime.
“Regrettably, seventy-one (71) persons have been confirmed dead while one hundred and twenty-four (124) persons sustained various degrees of injuries” he said.
“While commiserating with the families of the victims of the blasts, the IGP called on the members of the public to go about their normal businesses without fear and to cooperate with the Police by providing useful information in order to ensure that the perpetrators of this dastardly act are brought to book” the statement said.
*243 injured, 16 luxury buses, 24 other vehicles burnt