Explosions rock Abuja, kill 18

THE SUN Newspaper

The 50th Independent anniversary turned sour in Abuja yesterday following bomb explosions that left many people dead and several others in critical condition.

Although government had put the number of deaths at eight, eyewitnesses said at least 18 corpses were seen at the scene of the blast.
The bomb explosions took place at Abuja’s Central Business District, near the Eagle Square, venue of the independent anniversary parade, just as the celebration was nearing its peak

President Goodluck Jonathan described the development as a low, dirty and wicked act of desperation by criminals and murders, who did not wish Nigeria well.

Saturday Sun learnt that the first explosion took place about 11am, while the second one, which claimed more lives, went off after a 10-minute interval. Both bombs went off from two cars, which were on their way to the Eagle Square but turned back by the police.
The blasts occurred opposite the Federal Ministry of Justice and the Federal High Court Headquarters, on Shehu Shagari Way, some 800 metres from the Eagle Square.

At least four policemen were said to be among the dead, although the police high command could not confirm it.
A Chief Superintendent of Police, who witnessed the explosions, told Saturday Sun in confidence that the vehicles bearing the bombs were on their way to the Eagle Square when they were stopped by two of his men, a corporal and a constable.

According to him, as the driver of the first vehicle, a Toyota Corolla popularly called First Lady, was stopped and asked to go back, he suddenly got out of the car and started going away quickly.
As he ran, the policeman was said to have gone after him, asking him to come and remove his car. That was when the first bomb went off immediately. The policeman was said to be the only victim of the first explosion.
The police officer said he saw another of his men arguing with the driver of a second car. By then the first explosion had attracted people to the scene, and as he was waving from the distant to tell his men never to allow the second car to stay there, the second bomb went off, 10 minutes after the first one.

Because of the large number of people who had gathered as a result of the first blast, the casualty was much. The police officer said it was a miracle how he survived, saying that all he could see were many people scattered on the ground.

The victims were taken to the National Hospital, and the general hospitals at Asokoro, Wuse and Garki.
When Saturday Sun visited the Wuse General Hospital about 12 noon yesterday, the doctors and nurses were busy attending to those who were brought to the hospital. Seven of the victims were counted at the emergency ward, while three were said to be in the morgue.

The hospital was later to stop admitting more people, saying that its facilities had been stretched to their limits.
Three policemen identified as Ada Christopher, a police sergeant, Awalu Yakubu, a police constable, and Francis Eze, a mobile police personnel, were among those admitted at the Wuse District Hospital.
Twenty-two year old man, who identified himself as Ayuba and his colleague, Joshua Loksha, 21, said they had just alighted from a commercial tricycle called Keke NAPEP, and were walking towards the Izon Wari House when the blast went off. Ayuba’s right leg was badly wounded, while Joshua was wounded in the right arm.

A total of 27 cars, including the two that bore the explosives were caught in the blasts, some of them charred beyond recognition.

Although eye witnesses had put the number of the dead and injured at 18 and 40 respectively, minister of police affairs, Isa Maina Waziri, said only eight people were killed while 18 others were injured.
He described the incident as unfortunate, saying however, that it should not be allowed to dampen the mood of the nation. He pleaded with Nigerians not to blow the incident out of proportion.
FCT police spokesman, Jimoh Moshood, said the police had started investigating the matter, adding that a team of anti-bomb unit of the command had already visited the scene of the blasts. He said the police already had a clue as to the cause of the blasts.

Corp Commandant of the Nigerian Civil Defence Corps, Dr Ade Abolurin, confirmed that three of his officers were affected but could not say whether they were among the dead.
Also yesterday, police formations in the FCT were placed on red alert shortly following the blasts.
At the Zone 7 headquarters of the Nigerian Police at Wuse Zone 3 and road leading to both local and international airports, yesterday, vehicles, including those belonging to police personnel were barred from entering the premises. Other were subjected to searches.

Wuse was declared a no go area for visitors, as all non-police persons were turned back.
It was learnt that a deputy commissioner called the officers on duty and charged them never to allow any visitors or vehicles of any kind to enter the premises, warning that the police was the target of the onslaught.
Around the local and international airports, vehicles are searched thoroughly before being allowed to continue.


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