Black Independence Day for Bomb Blasts Victims—SERAP

Lami Musa, 27-year-old who says her husband was killed before she was abducted by Islamist extremists, cradles her 5-day-old baby girl at a refugee camp clinic after she and others were rescued by Nigerian soldiers from Sambisa Forest, Yola, Nigeria Monday, May 4, 2015. Even with the crackle of gunfire signaling rescuers were near, the horrors did not end: Boko Haram fighters stoned captives to death, some girls and women were crushed by an armored car and three died when a land mine exploded as they walked to freedom. Through tears, smiles and eyes filled with pain, the survivors of months in the hands of the Islamic extremists told their tragic stories to The Associated Press on Sunday, their first day out of the war zone. "We just have to give praise to God that we are alive, those of us who have survived," said 27-year-old Lami Musa. (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba)

Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has described the 55th anniversary of independence today as “unhappy birthday for hundreds of victims of Boko Haram who continue to suffer the consequences of the conflict in the Northeast of the country.”

SERAP in a statement dated 1 October 2015 and signed by its executive director Adetokunbo Mumuni said, “Independence Day should ordinarily be an anniversary to cheer and celebrate but this is unfortunately not the case for hundreds of victims of bomb blasts and their families in Nigeria. The case of Hope Musa from Tabara State who recently died as a result of untreated injuries suffered from bomb blast is a sad reminder of the trauma and neglect that many victims continue to face.”

The group called on “the government of President Muhammadu Buhari to investigate the spending of the over N80 billion under the Victims Support Funds to ensure transparency and accountability and adequate support, assistance, and care for families and victims of Boko Haram across the country,” adding that “Nigerians would like to know how exactly is the over N80 billion disbursed, with details on the number of victims and their families that have so far benefitted from the funds,” the group said.

The group also said that, “It is clear the plight of victims of bomb blasts won’t end unless and until the funds are appropriately and transparently spent. If Nigeria is to celebrate its 56th independence anniversary in better shape than it is today, the victims of bomb blasts and other victims of Boko Haram including the internally displaced persons need to know that they will never be forgotten in their difficult moment.”

The group also urges President Buhari to “in conformity with his fight against corruption set up a framework that would identify the real victims of Boko Haram and facilitate their access to the Victims Support Funds to ensure that victims and their families can live in dignity, access appropriate medical and other care, and enjoy basic necessities of life. The Bomb Victims Association and other stakeholders should be fully consulted and involved in the disbursement of any funds.”

The group also quoted the Bomb Victims Association of Nigeria as saying that “Victims are dying needlessly, deaths that are avoidable if urgent and continuous medical attentions are provided. We have cases of first-degree burns, cornea opacity, compound fractures and orthopedic cases, limb amputees, tympanic membrane and osicular bone damages on the ear, keloid skins, intensive nerve and tissue injuries and so on, which are in need of urgent medical attentions.”