banner ad

We Regret Living in the North – Bauchi Church Bomb Survivors

| June 17, 2012 More

Two churches in Bauchi Metropolis were hit by a suicide bomber and many worshippers killed penultimate Sunday. The unfortunate incident has left many families mourning for their dead and wounded. NAJIB SANI spoke with some of the survivors of the attack.

June 3, 2012 has gone down in history as one of the worst days in Nigeria because of the disasters that marked it. It was a day that double tragedy ripped through the Northern and Southern parts of the country almost simultaneously, leaving in its wake tears of sorrow that have refused to dry up.

It was on the same day that 153 persons lost their lives in the Dana Air crash in Lagos that a suicide bomber rammed a bomb-laden Honda Civic vehicle into the Bauchi metropolis churches and sent no fewer than 20 persons to their early graves by the time the dust had settled.

Like they have been doing every Sunday morning, the worshippers had left their homes very early to meet with their God, not suspecting that death from an unsuspecting enemy was awaiting them at the altar.

The pious worshippers had barely said their opening prayers when the unexpected struck: the bomb went off; blood and tears flowed freely and fear overwhelmed the people. Those who left their houses happily to sing and dance for God, never returned to their loved ones while others who were passing by were also affected by the blast.

The blast triggered a chain of ugly reactions, which almost consumed the area. It was learnt that aggrieved persons, who attempted to attack their neighbours due to their suspicion that they were singled out for the attack because of their faith, were dispersed by security agents.

But the intervention of the security men has raised another controversy, as the survivors accuse them of killing and maiming many of those of those who attempted to protest against the church bombing

The infuriated security men had beseeched the bomb sites and their environs immediately after the explosion rocked the churches and descended like bees on both the innocent and those suspected to have carried out the dastardly act.

It was alleged that most of those who died or were injured suffered their fate in the hands of the angry and overzealous security personnel deployed to the scene.

The situation was further exacerbated by the fact that Yelwa community, where the incident occurred, is a hot spot of religious conflict being that the population of Christians and Muslims is almost the same, thereby heightening the need to outdo the other for possible superiority.

However, some of those who managed to escape from the blast, are now living in fear, not knowing what will happen next, as the situation around the affected area, is still tense and shrouded in suspicion. The fear of reprisal attack reigns supreme as each day passes with jeremiads recounted by the victims’ relatives.

One of the survivors, Miss Jose Victoria Onize, who lost two of her friends to the blast, said she would have been killed along with others but she managed to escape. She fainted thrice but was revived by well-wishers when she realized that the impact of the blast had affected two of her legs.

“I sustained injury on my legs and I cannot walk well now. I have never experienced a calamity like that in all my life,” she stated.

Onize said that most of the church members are scared stiff and may not be free enough to be attending services in the church anymore.

Another lucky survivor, Prisca Jacob, a student at the Federal Polytechnic Bauchi, who lost a colleague Nyarum, to the blast, said she made a mistake choosing the state as her place of residence and schooling.

Prisca said, “I regret ever coming to live and study in the north.” “I will never allow any of my siblings to make such a mistake in life, she added.

But Ene Patience Ondoma, who watched the horror that Sunday, is still unable to come to grips with what struck her that day.

She had seen bombings on films until that day and she is still wondering whether what happened was real or not.

“I used to watch bombings only in movies but I have now seen it with my eyes. It was indeed very terrible,” she lamented. She said that although she missed being hit by the bomb, sporadic gunshots from soldiers almost killed her when she tried to leave the vicinity shortly after the blast.

The incident, which has sharply divided the two major religious groups in the area, has also drawn mixed reactions from commentators.

The Bauchi state chapter of the Christians Association of Nigeria [CAN], claimed that the dastard attack killed 20 Christians and not 15 as was previously reported.

CAN chairman in the state, Rev. Lawi Pokti, described the attack as despicable, detestable and a crime against humanity.

Pokti alleged that eight out of the 20 people killed were gunned down by soldiers deplored in the aftermath of the blast and accused them of willful killings.

He said the armed soldiers should be made to account for the lives wasted after the blast.

Pokti said it was unpardonable for the soldiers to claim that the indiscriminate shootings were aimed at dispersing irate youths from retaliating for the bomb blast.

“There is no moral, ethical or empirical justification for the murder of innocent persons in the name of dispersing irate youths,” he said.

According to him, 20 out of the 45 persons who were injured, suffered from gunshots.

While commiserating with the family of the victims of the bomb blast, the CAN Chairman appealed to the Christians in the state to remain calm praying to God to intervene in surmounting the spate of bombings in the country.

Those who could not make it after the ugly incident have since been laid to rest.

Last Wednesday when the victims were buried at the Yelwa Cemetery, tears and anguish from the relatives of the dead flowed like torrents of water and no amount of consolation by the pastors and worshippers of the church could soothe them.

Category: Bauchi State News

Comments are closed.