Bomb blast victims in the country have stated their resolve to seek the release of support funds donated for their welfare.
Speaking during the inauguration ceremony of the Bomb Blast Victims Association of Nigeria, in Abuja Tuesday, the chairman of the association, Olatunji Kayode, said previous attempts to access the funds were unsuccessful.
According to Mr. Kayode, during a conversation with the Executive Director of the Victim’s Support Fund, Sunday Achoche, he was told that there was N24 billion in the Victims Support Fund’s account.
“He said we are a little fragment out of those intended for the victims support fund. He said the remaining money as at the last time we met him was N24 billion,” Mr. Kayode said.
“He added that the money is too small compared to what NEMA is getting and that we cannot get anything out of the money,” Mr. Kayode said.
He added that they were told that only the Federal Government could help them assess the fund.
Mr. Kayode said the association was formed to forestall the possibility of victims been forgotten by Nigeria.
He noted that in the past programmes aimed at alleviating the plight of victims were implemented, without input from victims of bomb explosion.
He charged the Nigerian Government to put in place a memorial in honour of all those who died during bomb explosions across the country; stressing that it was high time Nigeria celebrated its dead.
“Victims of violent extremism, must not themselves be driven into violence and retaliation by societal neglect,” said Mr. Kayode.
He said the association is the only registered and recognized body, formed with the aim of canvassing as well as regulating interventions from the government and other interested parties, in the interest of victims.
Speaking also at the event, Chairman of the National Human Rights commission, Chidi Odinkalu who also chaired the occasion, noted that many promises had been made for the victims with none fulfilled.
He stressed that no nation should do that to its citizens.
Mr. Odinkalu however added that it was unnecessary for any other set of people to manage the affairs of the victims for them.
“There is no need asking anybody to do this for you, you must do it for your selves and for those who did not survive,” he said.
He said the event was synonymous to the basic message of democracy, which he explained thus; “Not for us, without us.”
“You cannot be distributing money for victims; or in the name of victims, from a body on which you have no victims.
“So let the message go out today, we are going after the victims’ fund. The victims have got to take control of their funds,” Mr. Odinkalu stated.
He noted that the biggest injury inflicted on Nigeria by every bomb blast is not on the individual but to our sense of humanity and togetherness.
The national chairman of the Peoples Democratic Movement, Bashir Ibrahim, said the problem of insurgency in the country is the direct result of the failure of politicians.
In their interactions with PREMIUM TIMES some victims expressed fear that the effect of such an association may not be felt by certain victims, if previous experiences were to be followed.
According to Chima Ohazurume, a victim of the 2011 bomb blast at the St. Theresa Catholic Church Madalla, he was burnt all over his body during the incident.
He said although he was treated repeatedly, his leg and other parts of the body still hurt.
He said other victims, along with himself got help from the government till a certain time when the hospital authorities told them that government was no longer paying their bills.
“I insisted that I would not go home, unless I see a public official. The then Interior Minister, Abba Moro, came to the hospital and told me that I should come when I am discharged from the hospital.
“I went there severally but his protocol people did not allow me to see him,” Mr. Ohazurume, painfully narrated.
He added that the government pays more attention to IDPs, and wondered where they have been placed by government.
“They gave us hope, which kept us alive, but till now, no improvement from the government,” said Mr. Ohazurume.
Similarly Uche Thaddeus Chukwu, another victim of the Madala bomb blast said he suffered various pains and currently experiences severe pain for hours every morning on his back.
He said he was hopeful that the association would be of positive impact.
Also according to Halillu Ibrahim, a victim of the Nyanya bomb blast, he lost one leg in the attack and was in the hospital for a couple of months before he was discharged.
According to him, the pain in his leg has not stopped and his crutches have gone bad.
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