Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
Donatus Arau, who lost four sons (two biological, two adopted) to the October 1, 2010 Eagles Square bomb blast in Abuja, has said though justice has been done eight years after, he is still greiving.
Arau said the Federal High Court’s sentencing of Charles Okah to life imprisonment for his involvement in the attacks in Warri, Delta state, on March 15, 2010, and Abuja on October 1, will not in any way bring back his sons nor change his near destitute state, saying he can barely survive these days with the rest of his family.
Sentenced alongside Okah was Obi Nwabueze. Both are said to have planned the attacks with Henry, Charles’ elder brother, who is serving his own jail term in South Africa.
Henry was the leader of militant separatist group Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta (MEND).
A South African court had in 2013 found the MEND leader guilty of masterminding the 2010 car bomb attack which killed 12 people. Okah, who was arrested in Johannesburg, a day after the two car bombs exploded, was convicted of 13 counts related to acts of terrorism.
He had denied the charges, even though MEND claimed responsibility for the attacks.
Arau, an indigene of Nsukka, in Enugu State, who was at the time a trailer driver with Julius Berger, is yet to come to terms with the fact that the twin bomb blasts of October 1, eight years ago, claimed the lives of his three sons Ambrose Onyeme Ozioko, his nephew (27), John Chidera Arau (11) and Paul Onyekachi (7) and the driver, Alfred Ona (32), an adopted son even though they were both working for the same company.
Alfred was on duty on that fateful day, as he was one of those who took Julius Berger workers to Eagles Square to participate in the Independence Day celebrations march past. Donatus and his wife Lovelyn had left the house as early as 7 a.m. for a family visit, and thus were not at home when the three boys decided to accompany Alfred to watch the show at the Eagles Square.
According to Arau, Alfred had always taken the boys out once in a while for a drive around town, especially when he was taking the Julius Berger workers to work. So, when he called their parents on phone to inform them that he had taken the them to Eagles Square, they never expected the worst, though they would have wished they had not accompanied him on that particular day.
When contacted on phone to react to the life imprisonment handed down to Okah and Nwabueze, Arua who now lives in Nasarawa State, said he still misses his children.
He repeated what he told Daily Sun in 2013 when the MEND leader was sentenced in South Africa:
“If they have convicted the man behind the bombing, all well and good; but please don’t ask me to comment. Will that in any way bring back my sons? I can barely take care of my wife and three daughters. It’s been tough on us as you can imagine. I lost my job as a result of this incident, though it was not immediate. Eight years after, even with the conviction, we are still in pain.”