Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Nigeria: Jos Blasts Death Toll Rises to 200
Victims of the May 20, 2014 bomb blasts in Jos being visited
by Nigerian Inspector-General of Police Mohammad
May 22, 2014
Nigerian National Mirror

The death toll from Tuesday’s twin bomb blasts in Jos, the Plateau State capital, has increased from 118 to over 200, National Mirror gathered yesterday.

The security situation in Jos has also taken a massive toll on private and public businesses as many of them did not open for fear of the unknown.

Some major streets, including Murtala Muhammed Way, the scene of the blasts, were deserted.

This is even as the city and its environs remained calm with security agents stationed in strategic locations to forestall any eventuality.

Checks by our correspondent also revealed that shops around the ever-busy Terminus market where the explosions occurred remain closed even as passersby avoided the area as roads leading to the scene of the blasts were closed by security operatives.

Also, at the old campus and the permanent sites of the University of Jos, along Bauchi Road, students abandoned lectures and other academic activities.

It was learnt that the casualty figures rose as many of those who were rushed to hospitals after the blasts died in the early hours of yesterday.

Seven of those who died were identified as final year students of Medical Laboratory Science of UNIJOS.

A final year student of the department, Eku Vivan Ijeoma, confirmed that the students were heading for home after lectures at the old campus of Jos University Teaching Hospital, JUTH.

She said four of the corpses of the students had been identified by family members.

She gave the names of the students as Michael Ogbote, Francisca Nwafor, Lydia Komolafe Dolapo, Milly Yusuf, Doris Gegunem, Vivian Chiamaka and Obilor Wungak.

But the institution’s Deputy Registrar, Information and Publication, could only confirm that one student was hospitalised, saying that he had been moving from one hospital to another trying to locate the students as at the time of filling this report

Some of the victims receiving treatment at the four major hospitals in the city, including JUTH, Bingham University Teaching Hospital, BUTH, Plateau Specialist hospital and NAF Hospital, also recounted their ordeals to our correspondent.

Elizabeth Nyam, a 25-year-old woman said she was in the market making her purchase and was about going home when the first blast went off.

According to her, she was knocked unconscious and suffered severe burns on her two hands and other parts of her body.

She added that immediately the blast occurred, she could not hear anything because she was close to the scene and the explosion blocked her ears.

Nyam added that she only realised that she was in the hospital yesterday morning with her two hands and body in bandage and swollen eyelids.

Similarly, Abubakar Mohammed, who was on the bed with two of her legs bandaged, could not utter a word to our correspondent as his son stood by his bedside.

Selina from Shendam Local Government was selling roasted corn in the area when the blasts occurred.

She had her left leg badly injured and was on wheelchair at the accident emergency unit of the Plateau Specialist Hospital, Jos,

Another victim, Mr. John Chuwang, the Deputy Public Relations Officer of the Plateau State Water Board, said that he was in the market to address to some customers of the board.

Chuwang said that immediately he alighted from the vehicle that took him to the market, he heard a bang after which something hit his leg.

“I saw people beside and in front of me falling dead but God saved me with only this wound on my leg,’’ he said.

An official at the Blood Transfusion Unit of the hospital told our correspondent that 15 of the injured victims brought to the casualty unit died before midnight.

The official added that most of the 15 victims died during treatment due to loss of blood.

He said although there were a few blood donors, the hospital needed a lot more to treat the victims.

“Yesterday, we had persons who came and donated blood freely to the National Blood Transfusion, we are calling for more donors,” he said.

Also, our reporter counted at least 53 corpses on the floor of the hospital mortuary, including that of a child.

Most of the corpses were women and children, including seven pregnant women.

Also at the JUTH mortuary, which is adjacent to the blasts scene, about 100 corpses were piled upon themselves, making it difficult to do and exact count.

The situation was similar at BUTH, although officials declined comments.

However, a medical personnel at JUTH, who did not want his name mentioned, said about 120 corpses were brought to the hospital, while injured persons were rushed to the permanent site for treatment.

In most of the hospitals visited, relatives of those who were killed in the blasts were seen at the mortuary unit, trying to identify the corpses of their loved ones.

Mr. Chuks Ikemefuna said: “I have gone to almost all the hospitals but I have not seen my brother, Francis, who owns a shoe shop close to where the bomb exploded yesterday.

“I have checked the casualty wards but I didn’t see him, now I want to check the mortuaries in case he was killed,” he said.

The inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Abubakar, has vowed that the perpetrators of the bomb blast would not go unpunished.

Addressing journalists at JUTH after going round the casualty wards to ascertain the number of the injured, the IGP said the police would soon unmask those behind the blasts.

He described the situation as unfortunate, promising that security agencies were on top of the issue.

“We would do anything humanly possible to unmask those who committed this heinous act,” he said.

Abubakar said no government would tolerate the situation, adding that President Goodluck Jonathan, worried over the plight of the Plateau people, “had directed me to come here to ascertain the number of those injured and report the level of damage to him.”

He added that investigation had begun and that the security agencies would ensure that the masterminds were arrested.

Meanwhile, Senate President David Mark and his deputy, Ike Ekweremadu, have condemned the twin bombings, describing them as callous and totally unacceptable.

In separate statements yesterday, they urged Nigerians to be more vigilant.

Also, the Arewa Consultative Forum, ACF, described the bomb blasts as “wicked and gruesome”.

The National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Muhammad Ibrahim, in a statement in Kaduna, added that the act was condemnable, considering the huge destruction of property and loss of lives left behind on its trail.

“The North has witnessed and experienced too many bomb blasts in the last six years, distorting its economic life and undermining its socio-economic development,” the statement said.

ACF also described the activities of the dreaded Boko Haram sect as most unfortunate, adding that it had led to the death of innocent people.

Meanwhile, no fewer than 29 people were killed by Boko Haram members in Shawa and Alagarno villages of Askira Cuba and Damboa local government areas of Borno State.

The attackers also carted away food items after setting ablaze almost all the houses in the villages.

Shawa is about three kilometres south of Kwapchi village, which came under attack two weeks ago with 12 people killed and several houses set ablaze, while Alagarno village is about 30 kilometres to Chibok town.

Sources said the Shawa incident took place on Monday evening while the Algarno attack took place yesterday.

Mallam Musa Ibrahim, a resident of Shuwa, told our correspondent that the insurgents invaded the village about 1pm on Monday and opened fire on residents, killing 10 people while 11 sustained gunshot wounds with several houses set on fire.

He noted that the attackers wreaked serious havoc on residents before they fled into the bush.

Also, Mallam Umaru Saina, who spoke with our correspondent on the phone, said about 30 terrorists on 10 motorcycles stormed Alagarno village about 1:30am yesterday and had a field day before they left.

“A young woman in Alagarno village was missing during the attack, but nobody knows whether the woman was taken by the insurgents.

“They destroyed everything we have and burnt down our remaining food. Most painful thing is that, they did not spare children. They killed a child, they killed women, they killed men, at least over 19 people were killed,” he said.

Neither the police nor the Army have commented on the incident as at the time of filing this report, but sources within the military said security operatives had been drafted to the area to ensure normalcy.

In a related development, pandemonium reigned in Bauchi yesterday over a suspicious object, suspected to be a bomb, at the popular Wunti Market.

The market is the biggest and busiest in the state, playing host to over one million traders, who troop there on a daily basis. The state Police Public Relations Officer, Mr. Haruna Mohammed, however, said it was a false alarm.

Haruna said that the police Explosive Ordnance Disposal team, drafted to the scene and cordoned off the place, discovered that the object was a kerosene stove and not an explosive device as feared.

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