Sunday, May 25, 2014

I Regret Being A Nigerian — Jos Bomb Blast Victim’s Daughter

If you are from Nigeria where terrorists kidnap over 200 girls and after 40, no rescue, you can lose hope:

What is your name?
My name is Nkem Chidebelu. I am a student of the University of Jos. My mother, Monica Chidebelu, died in the bomb blast. She was 62 years old.

How did you know your mum was affected?
I was at the main campus when it happened. I heard some people saying that the blasts took place near the Jos University Teaching Hospital, and that was close to where my mum sold oranges and banana. She moved to that place when they chased them away from the previous spot she occupied. When I wanted to come down to the blast scene, one of my lecturers restrained me and told me to calm down. Later my twin sister told me about the blasts. We went to several hospitals to look for her but we did not find her. There were also conflicting reports in some hospitals.When we described her, we were told some people had come to claim the body. But we later found out it wasn’t true. We prayed and hoped that she would be alive. But none of us could sleep that night. When we finally started asking people who also had shops at the railways side of the terminus, we got more clues because they said they knew my mum. They told us to check the Plateau Hospital Mortuary.

How did you eventually find and identify your mother’s body?
We saw her at the Plateau Hospital. Although her clothes were burnt, some were still hanging on her neck, while her hair was not burnt. I recognised a piece of her cloth, because we had called home to ask what colour and type of cloth she wore. I also recognised her ear rings because I bought them for her.

What went through your mind when you recognised her?
I fell on the floor and wept profusely. Others in the mortuary were also wailing. I cried so much because I made her promises which I cannot fulfil now. Despite recognising her clothes, we were still hoping that it would not be her. But when my dad came, wore hand gloves and turned her body over to show her face, the reality finally dawned on us. Every one of us was wailing. Her body was completely burnt. It was like a roasted chicken. I don’t know how to describe it. My dad is a strong man. Inside his heart, he was weeping, but you know as a man, he couldn’t cry out then, but the tears filled his eyes, and his lips and body were shaking. He moved out of the room and asked them to carry my siblings and I home.

What do you think about the incident?
Let me be honest, I don’t want to lay blames but the security men in that area are not good at their job. I remember that some people said the security people came with a bomb detector after the first blast. They could have at least gone round to check properly, but they did not do that. Many other people I know were affected. My neighbour and her baby died. The baby’s head was severed and the mother’s body was mangled. Also, I would say the government is not trying. Sometimes I regret being Nigerian. Government should do more to protect us because Nigeria has enough resources to do this.