16 April 2014

Nigeria: Abuja Explosion - Survivors Narrate Experience

Photo: Leadership
Burnt-out busses after an attack at a bus station packed with morning commuters in Abuja

When Oyebuchi Chigozie arrived the Nyanya motor park at about 6.00 a.m. on Monday, he thought his daily routine would continue. He would board a bus from the park to Garki, Area 11 to resume sales at his electronics shop.

Over 30 minutes after he arrived at the park, Mr. Chigozie found himself at the Nyanya General hospital, trying to recollect how he got there.

"I was dumfounded at where I saw myself," the trader told PREMIUM TIMES on his hospital bed. "In fact I was so confused that I can't still explain how it happened."

"I just dropped at Nyanya from Lafia where I stay and I entered into the garage to buy the ticket so I can get into the bus and head for work.

"I was so close to the bus but not inside the bus and the next thing I heard was a loud sound and I knew I was lifted from the ground and landed on the other side of the garage and then I found myself at the hospital."

Mr. Chigozie is one of the 124 people that the Nigerian government said were injured after a bomb explosion at the motor park in Nyanya on Monday morning. At least 71 others were not as lucky as they died from the blast.

The trader said the momentary heat he felt all over his body when the explosion happened was so hot that he felt he was going to explode just before he landed on the floor.

"I was surprised when I woke up and I saw myself on the hospital bed with plasters and bandages on my right leg and left arm, I feel so much pain round my arm and leg," he said.

Nyanya Motor Park is located in the Abuja suburb, about 30 minutes' drive from the city centre.

Every day, thousands of people who leave in Nyanya, Karu, and other Abuja suburbs board public and private buses and cars from the park to their work places at the city centre. The park also serves as a workplace for hawkers of different age groups who sell various products like confectioneries, sachet water, books, wrist watches, and others.

Other occupants of the park include the bus drivers, ticket vendors, and beggars.

Onyebuchi Chigozie a victim of the Nyanya bomb blast recieving treatment at the Nyanya general hospital

Just like Mr. Chigozie, Issac Okafor also arrived the Nyanya park with intention of boarding a bus to Wuse Market, where he sells clothes.

"At about 6.00 a.m., I was just at the entrance of park, I have not even gone into the park when I heard a loud sound that made me feel my ears were about pulling out," Mr. Okafor told PREMIUM TIMES on his hospital bed.

"My feet were off the ground, in the next minute I landed on the ground again. For a minute, I lost my breath. I found it so hard to breathe before I was rushed to the hospital."

"As I landed on the floor with my back, I felt like I was choking, I could not breathe properly, it was as if I was struggling to breathe, I felt this sharp pain just in my chest just before I was brought to the hospital. The doctors that attended to me injected me and gave me pain killers which I think has helped my breath well," he said.

Mr. Okafor said he lost his phone and all valuables during the blast and has not been able to contact his family.

Messrs Chigozie and Okafor are among the 11 victims of the blast brought to Nyanya General Hospital, the Medical Director, Frank Idegwe, told PREMIUM TIMES.

He said all the patients are currently responding to treatment and eight of them have been discharged from the hospital.

"As at yesterday (Monday) we had about 11 of them who were on admission and under observation.

"Over the night we were able to discharge eight of them and we have just three left. But out of the three, there is one we are still reviewing to see maybe we can take him to a consultant ophthalmologist because he is complaining of seeing double," Mr. Idegwe said.

The patient who complained of 'seeing double' declined to speak to PREMIUM TIMES.

Mr. Idegwe said the hospital was facing no challenges and had ensured adequate treatment for all the patients. He also confirmed the federal government's earlier statement that no fee was collected from any of the patients. The government had announced that it would take care of the cost of treatment of all the victims of the blast.

The explosion has been condemned by Nigerian leaders, politicians, religious leaders and international agencies and governments.

Though no group has claimed responsibility for the blast, the Boko Haram terrorist group has carried out similar attacks in the past and had, earlier in the year, threatened renewed attacks on the Nigerian capital.

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