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Sunday, 11 August 2013

Amnesty Committee Members Weep Openly In Kano

This is the report of the visit of the Victims Support Sub-Committee of the Presidential Committee on the Dialogue and Peaceful Resolution of Conflicts in Northern Nigeria, otherwise known as Boko Haram amnesty committee, to those affected by the suicide bombing which took place in Kano, penultimate week.
The report is revealing and presents a very emotional side of members of the committee. From the outset, it was agreed that names of victims would not be mentioned but that does not in any way detract from the substance of this exercise in compassion. Because of the loss and harrowing nature of the pain, names have been withheld.
The man did not know he was trying to lift a lifeless body – the body of his wife. She was on her knees; as if offering prayers to God. In fact, that was the first thought that crossed the mind of her husband; that his wife was either praying; or that she was having problems standing on her feet. This was minutes after the explosions that rocked the Sabon-Gari area of Kano penultimate week tore through the serenity of the evening.
Once the first wave of explosions rocked the area (more like a drinking-cum-relaxation joint), the man simply voted with his feet. His wife was actually standing by him. And, according to him, he thought his wife took after him as he ran off. He was wrong. After berthing in a place of safety, he discovered his wife was not with him; ostensibly, he thought the woman had taken off in the other direction. As the dust kicked off by the explosion began to settle, he walked back to the spot from where he took off – his wife’s shed.
There, he found his wife on her knees. It was in an attempt to lift his wife up that the horrific reality of what had happened hit here like another bomb. As he tried to lift her up, he discovered that the bomb had actually blown off the face of his wife of many years. His story is just one of the many that members of the Victims Support Sub-Committee of the Presidential Committee on the Dialogue and Peaceful Resolution of Conflicts in Northern Nigeria were treated to last Monday afternoon at the Police Station, Sabon-Gari, Kano.
There was another young man who was actually planning his wedding – he was billed to get married in 48hours. But the wedding was never going to hold. The Kano bombing saw to it. Some others lost their entire means of livelihood; some lost buildings. There were many more tales of horror by affected family members who had been invited for a parley with the Committee members.
The team was led by Professor Bolaji Akinyemi, former Foreign Affairs Minister; it also had Hajia Naja’atu Mohammed, Abubakar Sodangi and the Adamawa State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice. Community leaders and some police officers were also on hand. The Committee members’ day started with a visit to the palace of the Emir of Kano, Alhaji Ado Bayero. The members arrived there at 10 in the morning. The members got to Kano the previous night so, punctuality and a sense of purpose was the order of the day. At the Emir’s palace, the members were received by the WaanBan Kano, the next in command to the monarch. Not that the Emir considered the visit of the Committee members as beneath him.
Sunday Vanguard gathered he was just not on hand to receive them. Palace sources made Sunday Vanguard to understand that his royal highness had some other very personal challenges to attend to. Professor Bolaji Akinyemi, Chairman, Victims Support Sub-Committee of the Amnesty Committee for Boko Haram in tears after listening to tales of woe from victims of penultimate week’s bombing in Kano.
Professor Bolaji Akinyemi, Chairman, Victims Support Sub-Committee of the Amnesty Committee for Boko Haram in tears after listening to tales of woe from victims of penultimate week’s bombing in Kano. Two things were on the agenda but inexorably linked to mortality. First was the commiseration for the bombing; and second, for the death of the Wakilin’ Kano, who passed away just two days earlier.
From the Emir’s palace, the train moved to two of the hospitals where some victims of the bombing were still receiving treatment – Murtala Muhammed Teaching Hospital and Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital. At the Murtala Muhammed Teaching Hospital, there were six patients while three more were being treated at the Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital. The members went round the intensive care department of the hospitals where they interacted with the patients. Emotions It was a sight that created an outpouring of emotions.
The members spoke with the patients offering words of consolation that “there is still life and, therefore, there is hope for them”. Akinyemi and his team stood ramrod in some cases as the victims recounted their tales of woes and how the bomb hit them. There at the hospitals, the team came across a woman who, though had two sons receiving treatment and convalescing in bed, had lost a few other members of her family. One woman on sick bed told the Committee members how she lost consciousness when the bomb exploded.
The next thing she discovered was that she was on bed in hospital, one leg already amputated while the second one was heavily strapped with bandage. Sunday Vanguard gathered that even the other leg would require massive reconstructive surgery for it to remain useful. There was another man who narrated how he lost his only son to the explosion. They also met a man who lost three children at once and he himself was badly injured One by one, the tales of woes began to weigh heavily on the minds of the members.
For Akinyemi and Hajia Naja’atu, the tales were becoming a bit unbearable. Hajia Naja’atu, being a woman, made it all the more unbearable. Their grief was no longer concealable as the expression on the faces of the members betrayed the inner pain which, in due course, gave way to heavy hearts and eyes filled with tears. As they walked through the aisle, the members came to terms with the somber reality of the grief domiciled among the victims. Not able to bear it any longer, the team members turned their back and left.
But not after they made donations to each of the victims; it was just a gesture. It was money as part of running their work and not for donation to bomb blast victims but who want to pull the issue of due process from the bag when Nigerians are in bed, in excruciating pain? The Committee is not expected to make donations but they just could not but act because of what they saw, first-hand – Government money spent on behalf of government. 
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