Bomb Blast Victims Beg Bugari To Probe ‘N80 Billion Victims Support Fund’
Victims of the various bomb blast which has ravaged the northern part of the country since 2010 has pleaded with President Muhammadu Buhari to institute a probe into the N80 billion raised by the Committee on Victims Support Fund set up by President Goodluck Jonathan.
The victims, who lamented that they were dying under avoidable circumstances, particularly due to the lack of funds to seek adequate care either here in Nigeria or abroad are asking the president to ascertain the whereabout of the money raised by the committee.
The victims operating under the aegis of the Bomb Victims Association of Nigeria (BVAN), also want one of them to be included in the probe panel to be set up by the president.
It would be recalled that the fund raising committee targeted N50bn to be raised from a ceremony organised for that purpose, but then Special Adviser to Ex-president Goodluck Jonathan revealed that a total of N58.79 bn from the ceremony.
BVAN in a statement issued by Kayode Oladele Olatunji, chairman of the association, and Musa Baba Audu, secretary of the organisation reads in part:
“We are victims of bomb blasts, which have occurred at different locations in the northern part of Nigeria starting from the 1st of October 2010 at the Eagle Square in Abuja, 31st of December 2010 at the Mogadishu Barracks – Asokoro, the Suleja blast at the INEC office April 2011,the Madalla Catholic Church Bomb blast same year, the United Nations House blast in August 2011 and many others that have happened in the recent past.
“We come from every state and zone of Nigeria. We are united by our scars and by our belief that together we can care for and support one another to get through this trauma, reclaim our dignity and, ultimately, prevail over the perpetrators of the crimes that have scarred our lives forever.
“As a result of prolonged neglect of the victims of this bomb blasts across Northern Nigeria, some of us who initially survived the bombings have died, many due to little or no medical care and others as a result of their inability to continue with their medical bills or further their treatment here in Nigeria or abroad.
“One example is the story of a victim named Hope Musa, a survivor of June 26th 2014 EMAB plaza bomb blast and a founding member of the Bomb Victims Association of Nigeria died two weeks ago as due to injuries sustained from the blast. Hope is from Taraba State. The blast affected his brain, and he was poorly managed which led to several episodes of convulsion until his death, as he could not afford to further his treatment for a neurosurgical operation abroad.”
The statement further said the victims were dying needlessly, deaths that are avoidable if urgent and continuous medical attentions are provided. They listed first-degree burns, cornea opacity, compound fractures and orthopedic cases, limb amputees, tympanic membrane and osicular bone damages on the ear, keloid skins, intensive nerve and tissue injuries as some of the cases in need of urgent medical attentions.
“A year ago, on July 16th 2014, the Federal Government of Nigeria under the past administration of President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, constituted a Committee on Victims Support Fund to mobilize resources and administer appropriate support to victims of insurgency and Boko Haram terror activities all over the country. Rtd. Gen. Theophilus Danjuma chairs this committee.
“In August 2014, a fundraising dinner was held and the committee raised over N80 billion. Former president, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan said the fundraising was part of government’s efforts to raise funds so that the widows, orphans, and those whose business premises, homes and places of worship had been vandalized will be catered for, as well as victims with medical requirements. This did not happen, at least not to hundreds and thousands of victims among who we are and who are known to us. N80 billion and yet victims are languishing in pain and neglect!
“Many of the victims have lost their lives as a result of government negligence and neglect, many which initially survived the bombing, died months later for inability to cope with exorbitant medical bills, which the Federal Government promised to clear at every bomb blast that occurred.
“The nonchalant attitude of the government towards her citizens, who are suffering and dying for no fault of theirs, caused the surviving victims to form an association known as ‘BOMB VICTIMS’ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (BVAN).
“This association is set to bring victims of bomb blasts across Northern Nigeria under one umbrella to speak with one voice and to help show love, care and support towards those affected,and be the voice of the voiceless of her members. This association has been formed with the guidance and help of the Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission, Dr. Chidi Odinkalu, and together we aim at delivering the rights of the unfortunate and vulnerable victims of bomb blasts to them. We insist on the participation of victims in all programs designed to victims.
“The bomb blasts in Northern Nigeria have not stopped, and so more and more victims who need care, attention and support are birthed with every blast.”
“As a body duly incorporated under Nigerian law speaking on behalf of the victims of terror attacks and bomb blasts in Nigeria,” the body made the following demands:
“That the present administration under the leadership of our new President, Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, open up an inquiry into the status of the Victims Support Fund established in July 2014 and ascertain the whereabouts of the over N80 billion raised for the support of victims.
“That, in case where this funds had been disbursed, that those members of the committee give an account on such disbursement, also furnishing such details as whom the funds were spent on and the criteria with which such were chosen.
“That a framework be set up to make this B80 billion available to real victims of bomb blast many of whom are in dire need of medical attention and means of livelihood. “That the Bomb Victims Association, which has as its members actual victims of bomb blasts, be included in the committee of the Victims Support Fund
“That the President, General Muhammadu Buhari expedites efforts and strategies towards stopping the insurgents and their terror attacks once and for all so that no more deaths or victims will arise from bomb blasts anywhere in Nigeria.”
It noted that as of now, victims of bombing are increasing daily, and in just the month of July alone, there have been blasts in Zaria Kaduna state, on the 6th in which no less than 50 were killed; in a market on the 16th, the eve of Sallah; and also in Damaturu on the 17th of July, which claimed the lives of over 50 people and left scores injured on Eid-Fitri day.
“There must be a stop to this terror and deaths and we the Bomb Victims Association of Nigeria wish to condemn all such attacks as well as supporters of these attacks in all its entirety and pray that President Muhammadu Buhari will be given the wisdom, support and strength to battle them to a stop as soon as possible,” it said.
“We thank you for being here to show us this measure of support and we encourage you to look into the said fund to ascertain its status for us all.”