Bomb Blast Victims Demand Whereabouts Of N80 Billion Support Fund

bomb victims
Two bomb blast victims recuperating

By Tosin Omoniyi

The Bomb Victims Association of Nigeria, BVAN, an umbrella body of victims of various bomb blasts across the northern part of Nigeria have demanded for the accounting of the N80bn support fund initiated by the Goodluck Jonathan administration to cater for their welfare.

According to the group, the welfare package, which includes contributions from corporate and individual entities, has not been judiciously used to take care of its numerous members, many of whom have died as a result of neglect in recent months.

In a press statement jointly signed by its chairman, Kayode Oladele Olatunji and secretary, Musa Baba Audu, the group claimed that to the best of its knowledge, none of its members has benefited from the multi-billion naira package.

It challenged the Buhari-led government to commence immediate investigations into how the funds were spent.

It decried the needless death of many of its members due to unavailability of funds at their disposal to take care of their medical expenses.

“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,” the group said.

It said its members cut across different tribes and religious affiliations and were affected in the various blasts that occurred in tragedies like the October, 1, 2010 blast at the Eagle Square in Abuja, the December, 31, 2010 blast at the Mogadishu Barracks, the Suleja blast at the INEC office in April 2011, the Madalla Catholic Church Bomb blast in 2011, the United Nations House blast in August 2011 and many other such explosions across the north.

It cited the example of one of its members, Hope Musa, an indigene of Taraba State, who died two weeks ago due to injuries sustained from the blast.

It said Musa’s death could have been avoided if he had access to funds.

“Victims are dying needlessly, deaths that are avoidable if urgent and continuous medical attentions are provided. We have cases of 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 and so on, which are in need of urgent medical attentions,” the group said.

It added that many of the victims had lost their lives as a result of government negligence and that many who initially survived their ordeal, died months later due to their inability to cope with exorbitant medical bills, which the Federal Government had promised to take care of.

It said the challenge led to the formation of the group which now has many members across the nation.

It appreciated the efforts of the chairman of the National Human Rights Commission, NHRC, Chidi Odinkalu, whom it said had offered support for the activities of the group over the past few years.

Part of the demands of the group include the setting up of an investigative panel to assess the use of the funds raised for the bomb blast victims and the review of the modalities used for its disbursement if at all it had been given out to victims.

It also asked that genuine victims affected by the bomb blasts be included in subsequent welfare packages.

It urged the government to expedite actions that would curtail the spate of violent attacks and bomb explosions racking parts of the north.

“As of now, the victims of bombing are increasing daily, and in just this month of July alone there has been a blast in Zaria, Kaduna state, in which no less than 50 persons were killed. There is the recent twin bomb blasts in a market on the eve of Sallah and also the one in Damaturu on July 17, which claimed the lives of over 50 people and left scores injured,” it noted.

It urged Nigerians to support the efforts of the present government aimed at nipping the issue of terrorism in the bud.

Musa Baba Audu, secretary of BVAN, in a phone interaction and a subsequent email message to the reporter said its members were suffering immensely as a result of neglect by the government.

But when asked if he had any proof that the said monies had been frittered, he said he had none.

He also said there was no proof that the monies had been dispensed to those who genuinely needed it.

He said the group which now had 300 members was based in Abuja and Suleija, Niger State and was growing daily.

He said they were using the avenue of the social media and the support of the NHRC to ramp up support for their cause.






     

     

    “We are dying slowly and it is our earnest desire that someone will finally listen to us and bring our ordeal to an end,” he said.

    It would be recalled that on July 16, 2014, the Jonathan led government set up a Committee on Victims Support Fund to mobilize funds and administer same to victims of insurgency and Boko Haram terror activities all over the country. Theophilus Danjuma, a retired general was chosen to head the committee.

    And in August 2014, a fund raising dinner was held, where the committee raised over N80bn. The former president 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 could be catered for.

    The BVAN is however, not the first group to raise eyebrows over the judicious use of the funds raised as many Nigerians have continued to ask for the whereabouts of the funds raised to assist hapless victims of insurgency.

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