Vera woke me up with a spank on my back. I had slept as if I drank fresh Afikpo palm wine, the thick one with pebbles and strange sticks and particles inside. But I didn’t drink. I slept early, to prepare myself for the busy Monday. I thought that would wake me up early. But the sleep got sweeter as the early hours of Monday drew nearer. The crisp hands of cold caressed my ribs and I curled myself inside my fleece material blanket like a Scottish Fold Kitten. Monday is always busy, especially in Abuja, one of the fastest-growing cities (by population) in Africa.
At exactly 5 am, I heard a knock on my door: “kon kon!” A sotto voce adenoidal bedroom voice muttered: “Inyang, wake up, it’s morning already. Get set for work quickly, today is Monday.” I felt a soft hand spank me on my back, and then on my left thigh. It was Vera, my cousin.
I woke up sluggishly, prayed for ten seconds, and teetered to the bathroom. I hurriedly washed myself and head back to the room to dress. I was late already. My alarm didn’t ring. I blamed it on my cell phone – HTC One device.
6:30 am, I was already dressed. My pair of socks was nowhere to be found. I searched everywhere but I couldn’t find it. I beckoned on Vera to assist me in looking for it. It was my favourite socks; perfect for the outfit.
We both searched with our four eyes, and an additional eye – a torchlight. We couldn’t find it. After searching for about 10 minutes, I decided to wear another. I hurriedly wore a different one and then hopped to the sitting room to pick up my laptop bag and phone charger.
It was already 6:40 am and the day was getting brighter. During that period, commercial buses were not allowed to ply the city roads except for the long buses provided by the FCT Administration. The FCT minister Senator Bala Mohammed had enacted a harsh transport policy banning mini commercial buses popularly known as ‘Araba’ from accessing the city areas. It was difficult for commuters to transport themselves (those who do not have their cars) because the El Rufai buses were few, and it was based on ‘first come, first serve’. All I needed to do was queue at the Nyanya market bus station which was just 2km away, buy a ticket and board from there.
So, I was in a hurry to meet up to buy ticket and get to work early. It was the usual early morning rush hour.
At exactly 6:43 am, while I was leaving the sitting room, I heard a twin ear-splitting blast from 2 kilometers away. Vera shouted and gripped me firmly by the shirt. We were both confused and didn’t know what had happened. I had a jumble of thoughts: first, I thought of a possible tyre burst or gas explosion. But again, the sound was too ear-shattering to assume it was any of those. Bomb explosion was the least thought that came to my mind.
As I stepped out and progressed to the bus station, I saw plumes of thick smoke ascending the sky, people running pell-mell to the scene. I climbed a bike heading to the bus station.
On reaching the bus station, I saw charred flesh and dismembered bodies littered everywhere. Copious dead bodies, burning bodies, burning cars, and motorcycles. The scene was completely gory to watch. Blood covered the floor like a scene where cows were slaughtered. Like an abattoir. “Oh, my God! It’s a bomb explosion!” I said to myself. I saw a 3-feet deep hole by the entrance of the station. The explosives were hidden inside a vehicle and parked at the bus station.
The environment was tensed, people stood and watched with horror and perturbation. While some wept profusely, others filmed with their cell phones and some others helped to arrange dead bodies by the corner. Vehicles were provided and some men assisted in taking those who were still breathing to the vehicle. There were other explosions from parked vehicles as fuel tanks caught hold of the fire from the blast.
Before the blast, about 3 El Rufai buses were already filled and ready to move. They were only waiting for the supervisor to sign. The vehicles and people inside got burnt.
The windscreen of some vehicles coming from Abuja/Keffi road was damaged and the force of the blast flung many out of their vehicles.
Tears rolled down my cheeks as I wept. Justice, a former colleague who came from Karu after the blast consoled me and asked if I lost someone. I retorted with anger: “must I lost someone? These are humans and I feel it deep. They have loved ones and how will they feel to hear this terrible news.”
President Jonathan visited the scene amidst a heavy security presence. The President gave a cliché political statement and left afterward.
In May 2014, one Aminu Sadiq Ogwuche a military-deserted British-born Nigerian who served in the Intelligence Unit of the Nigerian Army was arrested in connection to the Nyanya Bombing. Aminu Ogwuche who is a son of a retired Army Colonel was the mastermind of the Nyanya bomb blast. He escaped to Sudan and was caught and extradited to Nigeria in June 2014. However, he was acquitted of all charges and freed by a court in November of the same year.
Another heart-shattering incident happened on the night of April 14, 2014. About 276 secondary schoolgirls were kidnapped by the Islamic Boko Haram Sect in Chibok, a town in Borno state. 112 girls are still missing to date.
The Nyanya bombing left a tragic imprint on the soil of the FCT and served as one of the major albatrosses of the President Goodluck Jonathan Administration.
I am yet to recover from the shell shock of this ugly incident. God saved me and I am thankful for my life.
7 years after, may the souls of the deceased continue to rest in peace. Amen.