At that moment that the Nigerian Air Force jets that were being deployed for rehearsals in preparation for the Independence day celebration crashed, fifteen-year-old Elizabeth Elijah happened to be the on-ground teenager who was wounded by shrapnel from the crashed jets.
She is currently recuperating at the Maitama General Hospital, Abuja, where she was contacted by Adelani Adepegba of The Punch.
Tell us your experience on the day of the crash of the Air Force jet.
I was in the farm when the incident happened. My younger brother, our co-tenant’s daughter and I, went to the farm around 11am to fetch firewood. After working for some time, my brother complained of thirst; so, we all went in search of water to drink at the nearby stream.
As we were returning to where we were fetching firewood after drinking water, we saw the plane coming towards our direction from a far distance. My brother saw two parachutes and said, ‘look at balloons’. But I told him, ‘It is parachutes and not balloons, look for a way of escape’.
As we were trying to run, strong breeze from the jet pushed us and I fell on a stick. I noticed that some shrapnel from the crashed plane had injured my right foot. Right there, I could not stand and I started shouting for help. My brother and the girl came to my rescue. They struggled to remove the object that penetrated my leg.
What happened next?
I was bleeding and they needed someone to carry me home. The two young people who were with me could not lift me because they are not strong enough to do so. As we were thinking of what to do, a Nigerien came around.
He claimed he knew my father and offered to take me home. My father later took me to a nearby hospital where the nurses cleaned the wound and he brought me back home but the pain was still much.
After a few hours, the owner of the hospital came to our house and told my father that the Chairman of Bwari Area Council has given an instruction that I should be returned to the hospital for the wound to be stitched. They took me back and stitched the wound and after a while, I was taken back home.
Who brought you to the Maitama General Hospital?
The next day, which was Saturday, while my mum was selling in the market, a man overheard her telling someone about my condition and the man offered to help. He immediately called the Human Rights Radio, Abuja, and narrated everything to them and the management of the radio station came to pick me from home at about 11pm alongside the management of the Maitama General Hospital. Apart from my leg, I also have pain in my hand and back, but I am getting better.
How do you feel about the scholarship awarded to you by the Federal Capital Territory Administration?
I am happy about it because it would assist me to study medicine at the university. I appreciate the government for the gesture.
Tell us about your education and family.
I completed primary school education in 2017 and could not proceed to secondary school due to lack of funds. My father is presently unemployed while my mother sells foodstuffs. We would have been nine children in the family but four are dead. I am the oldest among the remaining five. We live in Chikoko near Mpape in Abuja.