President Goodluck Jonathan vowed yesterday to do everything possible to end the insurgency that has shaken Nigeria to its roots.
He spoke after being conducted round the blast site in Nyanya on the outskirts of Abuja, where scores died in an early morning suicide bombing. Boko Haram is temporary and that Nigeria would overcome.
Dr. Jonathan, with whom was Senate President David Mark, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)
Chairman Adamu Muazu and National Security Adviser Sambo Dasuki condoled with the families of those who died. He directed that the best medical services be given to the injured. He also ordered tight security around the city.
Jonathan visited some of the victims at the Asokoro General Hospital, Abuja. He was conducted round the emergency wards by the Chief Medical Director, Dr. Abubakar Adamu.
At the scene of the attacks, the President said: “You can see that I’m here with the Senate President, David Mark and Chairman of PDP, ministers, CDS and service chiefs, and all other very senior government functionaries. Let us collectively express our condolences to the families of those who suffered directly on the incident.
“I am also commending security services for their prompt action. Though we lost quite a number of people, we condole with our countrymen and women. We will continue to work very hard.”
He went on: “The issue of Boko Haram is temporary. Government is doing everything to make sure that we move our country forward, in spite of all the distractions that want to take us backward. We promise that we will get over it.
“We also want to use this unique opportunity to plead with the media and our great men and women to come up with enlightenment programme for our people. Those countries that face terror, they have developed great awareness. If there are unusual movement of vehicles and bags, they call security and based on this a lot of incident are contained.
“So, we believe that if people will become observant and all of us become security conscious by the movement of people, we will be able to reduce some of these incident.”
“We will do our best; the security services will continue to work very hard. God willing, we will get over it. The issue of Boko Haram is temporary; surely we will get over it.” He stated
The Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati, posted on his Twitter Account: “Jonathan saddened by loss of lives in Nyanya bombing. Ordered heightened security in Abuja following the incident. Jonathan extends his heartfelt condolences to bereaved families. Direct medical services to do their best to save lives.”
At the Asokoro General Hospital, the Chief Medical Director, Dr. Amodu Abubakar, confirmed that close to 30 bodies were at the hospital’s mortuary while 25 injured were receiving treatment.
He said: “We have around 27 to 30 dead here and about 25 victims are receiving treatment here. We only have problem of population that are trying to check for their loved ones. However, we are coping with everything here.”
At the National Hospital, 16 of the victims were confirmed dead. 47 are being treated for injuries.
There were 14 bodies at Maitama Hospital, which had 27 seriously injured persons on admission. Three persons in critical conditions were referred to the National Hospital.
Among the three referred was a man who was bleeding profusely from around the neck. The doctors battled to stop the bleeding to no avail. At a point, some of the medical personnel attending to him raised their hands in hopelessness before he was wheeled away.
A ten-month-old girl survived the blast. The baby, whose mother died survered bruises on her right hand.
She was taken to the Asokoro Hospital.
At the Wuse Hospital, our reporters counted 15 bodies. Seven injured were on admission.
The bodies were burnt, some beyond recognition. They were packed in body bags, but their faces were opened for identification.
The bodies were laid at the entrance of the mortuary and opened for families and friends to identify.
Some of the bodies have been identified and properly packed while those yet to be identified were tagged with numbers.
Among them were a mechanic and a lady with a nine months’ old baby who the hospital management referred to as Victoria.
According to the management, Victoria, along with two others, were rushed to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) department but they died.
Relatives were going round the hospitals in search of their loved ones.
Eyewitnesses gave various accounts of the incident.
A commercial motorcycle rider, who gave his name as Wahad, told NAN that a man threw a bag containing the bomb into the congested park.
“I was conveying a passenger to the park this morning when I saw a man throw a big black bag into the park; the next thing I saw was explosion,’’ Wahad said.
Another eyewitness, David Lukman, said that the bomb was planted in a car at the park.
“I am very sure the bomb was either planted at the park last night or a suicide bomber posing as a passenger entered one of the cars with it,’’ he said.
A stockbroker, Abbas Adamu, said four of his friends died in the explosion.
“I have never seen something like this in my entire life.
“My friends told me this morning that they were going to Kaduna and because I was also going to Kaduna in my car, I told them to wait for me at the park so that we go together.
“But I asked them to enter the park and not wait under the bridge because Road Safety and VIO (Vehicle Inspection Officers) officials usually disturb along the road under the bridge.
“Seconds later, I heard a loud explosion; in fact, I can’t explain because I felt something like electric shock inside the car, and as I speak to you now, my friends are all dead,’’ Adamu said.
Mr Romanus Ugwu, an Abuja journalist, resident at Nyanya, told NAN that he ran to the scene on hearing the blast.
Ugwu said he saw a “gory sight” because many people were burning in some cars and were calling for help that never came to them. while others were on the ground, helpless, without limbs, he said.
“You have to be hard hearted to look at these things. I saw a woman lying face down without limbs. 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.
He, however, praised the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) personnel for their rescue efforts.
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 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 wounded on the wrist and neck, said: “It is a day I will live to remember.”
By Augustine Ehikioya