The gory tales of the fire tragedy of last Wednesday in Upper-Iweka area of Onitsha in Anambra State was one preventable disaster too many.
The Chairman of the House Committee on Emergency and Disaster Preparedness, Hon. Tunji Olawuyi, who stated this in a statement in Ilorin on Saturday, said the Committee was shocked and saddened by the sad event.
According to him, the Committee is initiating an inquiry to unravel the immediate and remote causes of this preventable tragedy which has led to loss of precious human lives and enormous economic dislocation.
The Committee, he said, is working in earnest with the leadership of the House of Representatives to unravel the factors responsible for the apparent dismal level of response of fire service officials in this index case, adding that the committee would not neglect the associated factors that occasioned the petrol tanker fire in the first instance.
This inquiry, according to Olawuyi, would afford the Committee an opportunity to review countrywide disaster prevention, mitigation and response mechanisms, collaboratively with multilateral stakeholders.
13 killed, 10 injured as truck crushes two buses on Lagos-Ibadan Expressway
Kunle Olayeni, Abeokuta
No fewer than 13 persons were killed on Wednesday in a multiple accident along the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway.
Ten other persons were injured in the fatal crash, which occurred around Saapade, Remo North Local Government Area of Ogun State.
The state Public Education Officer, Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), Florence Okpe, confirmed the incident in a statement made available to New Telegraph.
Okpe disclosed that the mishap happened about 5:00pm where a diversion was created by a construction company working on the highway.
The official said the crash involved three vehicles – a yellow Mazda bus marked KTU93XW, white Toyota bus with registration number KEY847XA and a MAN Diesel truck with registration number KAB97XA.
She explained that the Lagos-bound truck, which was speeding, suffered a tyre burst and veered off its lane colliding into two commuter buses heading towards Ibadan.
According to her, a total of 37 people, comprising 20 male adults, 15 female adults and two female children were involved in the accident.
“The people injured in the crash were 10, comprising four male adults and six female adults, which unfortunately killed 13 people which comprising four male adults, seven female adults and two female children,” she said.
Okpe stated that the injured victims were rushed to Victory Hospital, Ogere for medical treatment while the corpses of the dead were deposited at a mortuary in Ipara, Ogun State.
She quoted the Sector Commander, Clement Oladele, as requesting relations of the crash victims to contact the FRSC command in Ogere.
She added: “The Sector Commander has again reiterated that this incident would have been avoided where motorists driving along diversion areas at construction zones, observe maximum speed limit of 50 kilometres per hour and avoid overtaking till clearly out of diversion areas to avoid head on collision.
“Passengers inside vehicles being driven recklessly should caution their drivers and where they refused to be cautioned, the FRSC should be contacted on the FRSC toll free number 122.”
Bandits kill three policemen at Kaduna checkpoint
Bandits on Tuesday gunned down three policemen at a checkpoint in the southern part of Kaduna State.
The policemen were said to be serving at Fadan Karshi Outpost in Sanga Local Government Area of the state.
The attack occurred at a checkpoint between Fadan Karshi and Sabon Gida village within the same local government area. The state Police Command has confirmed the incident and gave the names of the policemen as Inspector Bobai Bature, Inspector Daniel Dogo and Sergeant Mamman Ahmadu.
The Vice-Chairman of Sanga Local Government Area, Hon Abubakar Abba, also confirmed the incident. Abba disclosed that the bodies of the slain policemen had been deposited at the Gwantu General Hospital mortuary.
He said: “Two among the policemen died on the spot, while the third died on the way to the hospital.”
Abba expressed worry over the wave of criminal activities in the area and called on security agencies to rise up to the challenge.
The state Deputy Police Public Relations Officer (DPPRO), Suleiman Abubakar, said a manhunt for the culprits was ongoing as no effort would be spared in bringing them to book.
He said: “On November 12, about 1p.m., the police operatives attached to Safer Highway with code No. KDS 018, deployed to Gwantu Divisional area, were ambushed by gunmen while on patrol at Aboro village, on Fadan Karshi-Nimbia Forest Road in Sanga Local Government Area of Kaduna State. The gunmen opened fire on them through a thick bush in the opposite direction.
“The operatives engaged the hoodlums and in the process, Inspector Bobai Bature, Inspector Daniel Dogo and Sergeant Mamman Ahmadu paid the supreme sacrifice while other team members escaped unhurt. Reinforcement has since been deployed to the area for general combing to ensure that the culprits are arrested and brought to face justice.”
Abubakar added that the state Commissioner of Police, Ali Janga, was greatly saddened by the incident and commiserates with families of the gallant policeman.
Janga, according to the DPPRO, also called on members of the general public to assist the police with relevant information on the whereabouts of suspicious persons in order to rid communities of bad elements.
He said: “The commissioner of police has also assured members of the public that the culprits will not escape the long arms of the law. The command is doing everything possible to arrest those behind this dastardly act.”
Serial fraudster, impersonator convicted, gets N750,000 fine
Justice M. T. Tukur of Kaduna State High Court yesterday sentenced Mr. Mukhtar Bello to three years imprisonment for defrauding people several times and for impersonation.
The convict was, however, given an option of fine.
Bello, who was arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), was convicted on a three-count charge of impersonation and obtaining money by false pretence.
The 43-year-old graduate of the University of Tampa, Florida, United States, was arrested on October 31, 2019 after he failed to honour his obligations on a financial transaction with some ladies.
The EFCC spokesman, Wilson Uwujaren, said: “A scene was created at an ATM point of one of the new generation banks in Kaduna metropolis, where some ladies tried to compel him to make withdrawal, to pay for items he bought from them. An officer of the commission, who had come to make use of the ATM at the time, was shocked to hear Mukhtar repeatedly harassing the ladies saying, ‘I am an EFCC staff, I will deal with you all’.
“The curious EFCC worker sought to know what the problem was. Mukhtar told him he was from the Abuja office of the commission, but was in Kaduna on leave. Further questioning led to the discovery that he was an impostor. He was brought to the Kaduna Zonal Office, where another officer, who had previously encountered Mukhtar at a relaxation spot in Kaduna immediately, recognised him, ‘as the EFCC staff from Abuja.’”
Uwujaren said statements of other witnesses were taken, affirming their encounters with Mukhtar, the fake EFCC operator.
Investigation revealed that the suspect was known for harassing and defrauding unsuspecting members of the public by dropping the names of public agencies. Before now, he had claimed to be a worker with the Federal Character Commission (between 2003 and 2007).
Upon arraignment, the defendant pleaded guilty to the charges. Consequently, Tukur convicted and sentenced him to three years imprisonment with an option of N250,000 fine on each of the three counts totalling N750,000.
Lagos monarch’s kidnappers to die by hanging
Justice Oluwatoyin Taiwo of an Ikeja Special Offences Court, yesterday sentenced three men, who kidnapped the traditional ruler of Iba in Lagos State, Oba Goriola Oseni, to both life imprisonment and death by hanging.
The judge convicted and sentenced the three men – Duba Furejo, Reuben Anthony and Yerin Fresh – on a seven-count charge bordering on conspiracy, murder, attempted murder, armed robbery and kidnapping.
The trio, alongside Ododomo Isaiah (now late), abducted the 74-year-old monarch in his palace at Iba about 8p.m. on July 16, 2015. The convicts also shot dead two people, a palace guard, Sunday Okanlawon and a commercial motorcyclist, Joseph Okeke.
The prosecution team led by the Solicitor General of Lagos State, Titilayo Shitta-Bey, said that the convicts also attempted to murder Abosede Oseni, wife of the monarch and took away her cell phone.
Shitta-Bey said that the offences contravened Sections 223, 230, 297, 299, 411 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2015.
According to the judgement of the court, the trio is to serve a total prison sentence of 153 years; 30 years for each of them for conspiracy to commit murder, armed robbery and kidnapping, while 21 years each was slammed on them for kidnapping.
The convicts were further sentenced to life imprisonment for both attempted murder and armed robbery.
While pronouncing her judgement, Taiwo said the defendants, who appeared to be first time offenders, clearly understood the gravity of the offences and the consequences of their actions.
She said: “I have no doubt in my mind that the defendants were involved in the crime. I also have no doubt that the defendants knew that their actions would cause injuries to the victims, especially by the use of weapons, as proven by the prosecution. The prosecution has proven its case beyond reasonable doubt and I find the three defendants guilty as charged.
“A clear message needs to be sent to people who think they can get away with such actions. Families of victims are made to look for ransoms just to save their loved ones and this must be stopped. Such crimes don’t only affect the victims, but also the society at large. Lagos is not a lawless society. I hereby sentence the defendants to 10 years each on Count 1 (conspiracy to commit murder); to death by hanging on Count 2 for the murder of Sunday Okanlawon and Joseph Okeke (a security guard); to life imprisonment (attempted murder) for shooting the Olori, Abosede Oseni, in the abdomen on Count 3; to 10 years in prison for conspiracy to commit kidnapping on Count 4; to life imprisonment for armed robbery on Count 5; to 10 years each for conspiracy to commit armed robbery on Count 6; and to 21 years imprisonment for kidnapping on Count 7.
“This would send a clear warning to like-minded persons, like the defendants, that such acts are not acceptable in Lagos State.”
Flood killing us, residents tell Ogun River Basin Authority
Residents of Isheri-Olofin community in Ogun State have called on the management of Osun-Ogun River Basin Development Authority (OORBDA) to ensure that the communities along the river are not flooded each year the dam is opened.
The residents, whose community was flooded recently, addressed journalists at Isheri-Olofin on the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway.
They said the management of the River Basin should strive to exploit the best practice in monitoring the Oyan Dam to check flooding in communities in Lagos and Ogun states.
The Chairman, Riverview Estate Residents and Stakeholders’ Association Mr. Abayomi Akinde, said the initial design of the Oyan Dam was to store water for supply to Abeokuta township and the Lagos State Water Corporation, its height later increased to accommodate water for irrigation and next for turbines power generation.
He said: “The rain fails issue the management claimed caused the flooding was meant to confuse the public, as the level of rainfall could only arise from extreme weather annual rainfall in the catchment area of the dam.
“As we cannot control rainfall occurrence, the only flood control measure available to the River Ogun is through proper management of the water levels and of the release of water from the reservoir. The flooding in 2018 was around the communities along the River Ogun. But that of 2019 was greater than the previous year.
“’There is only one major channel of the River Ogun all year round which is adjacent to Lagos flood plain. When the huge volumes of water are released from the dam automatically it flows into Ogun and Lagos communities.”
Akinde added that the plain land which, according to him, the Isheri and other parts of Lagos fall to, are the disaster areas created by the management of the River Basin in order to release water from the dam”.
He said: “We have lost billions of naira to four weeks flood; we also lost a journalist who resided in one of the estate to the flood. There are also displaced people from the community, even some people are not planning to return to their houses.”
Corroborating Akinde’s views, a resident, Dr. Akintola Omigbadun, said the flood had brought an untold hardship on them for four weeks now.
Omigbadun said they had gone through a lot in the community emotionally and physiologically as a result of the flood.
He said: “In our community, we cannot boast of government infrastructure. We have paid different revenues to both Lagos and Ogun states.”
Yet, we cannot point to a meaningful project in our area for over 13 years’ existence of the estate.
“If the estate is fully developed, hundreds of millions of naira will go to government. But they are only looking at now; they don’t look at the future prospects of the area. We have about 1,500 houses and companies, government can generate revenue if they can open the place up.
“Some of us are sleeping in hotels and you know what that means. Those who couldn’t afford it had to take their children to their brothers and cousins’ houses, while some are sleeping in their churches. This is hardship we have gone through. Both Lagos and Ogun states should look into our plight.”
LASU student, five cultists shoot victim’s private parts
A 25-year-old student of the Lagos State University (LASU), Shittu Saheed, was yesterday arraigned alongside five suspected cult members of the Aiye confraternity (Black Axe Movement) for armed robbery.
They were also accused of shooting a man, Oke Oscar, on his penis with a locally-made pistol.
Saheed was arraigned before an Ikeja Special Offences Court, Lagos alongside Victor Otobo (28), Suleiman Musa (34), Ibrahim Kolade (33), Ayinla Muiz (30) and Lateef Alowonle (21).
The six defendants were arraigned on an 11-count charge bordering on conspiracy to commit robbery, armed robbery, attempted murder and causing grievous harm.
The state prosecutor, Mr. Olakunle Ligali, the defendants committed the offences at different times and locations within Pipeline area of Okokomaiko, Lagos, in 2018.
Ligali told the court that the offences were committed sometime on September 14 at 8.40p.m., around Pipeline (PPL) area, within the LASU premises and also on October 2nd and 4th at 9p.m., at Ahiawu Apeke Street, Pipeline, Okokomaiko.
The prosecutor said that the offences contravened Sections 299, 297(2)(a), 230(a), 245 of the Criminal Law, CH. C. 17 Vol. 3 Laws of Lagos State, 2015.
The charge sheet reads: “Victor Otobo (Marine agent), Shittu Saheed (student), Suleiman Musa (music producer), Ibrahim Kolade (baker), Ayinla Muiz (unemployed), and Lateef Alowonle (carpenter), at Dubai hotel, Pipeline area of Okokomaiko did belong to an unlawful society called ‘Aiye confraternity’ – Black Axe movement.
“That Victor Otobo, Shittu Saheed, Suleiman Musa, Ibrahim Kolade and Ayinla Muiz on October 2, 2018, about 9p.m., at Ahiawu Apeke Street, Pipeline, Okokomaiko, caused grievous harm on Oscar by shooting him on his penis with a locally-made cut-to-size pistol.
“Also that the five defendants at same date and place, while armed, robbed one Isiaka Adeshina (m) of the sum of N25,000 and also caused grievous harm by shooting him on his left armpit with a locally-made cut-to-size pistol.
“The five defendants also, at same date and place, attempted to kill one Chinedu Onwuka (m) by shooting him on his back with a pistol.
“While Ibrahim Kolade and Lateef Alowonle did rob one Itohan Omorodion (f) of her Tecno W3 mobile phone valued at N40,000 within the LASU premises on September 24, 2018″.
The six defendants, however, pleaded not guilty to all the charges.
Justice Josephine Taiwo thereafter adjourned the matter till December 18, 2019 for trial.
Businessman arraigned for importing 13 containers of substandard cables
A businessman, Ifeanyi Okoli, was yesterday arraigned by the Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON) at a Federal High Court in Lagos for allegedly importing 120,000 brands of substandard electric cables in 13 containers.
Okoli was arraigned alongside a firm, Nature’s Breeze Limited, before Justice Nicholas Oweibo on a three-count charge of conspiracy and importation of substandard goods. He, however, denied the alleged offence.
Afterwards, Okoli’s lawyer prayed the court to grant him a short adjournment so that he could bring his client’s bail application.
He also prayed the court to remand Okoli in police custody, pending a date to hear his bail application.
In the absence of any opposition from SON’s lawyer, Babatunde Alajogun, the judge granted the defendant’s prayer and directed him to bring his bail application before February 28, 2020 when further hearing in the matter would resume.
Alajogun had earlier told the court that both defendants conspired to import “about 120,000 different brands of substandard electric cables in 13 containers which did not comply with the Standards Organisation of Nigeria Mandatory Industrial Standard before importation”.
He added that Okoli, 34, of No 5, Igbeyin Adun Street, Shibiri, Lagos, and Nature’s Breeze of the same address, committed the offence on or about October 31, 2019 and at the latter’s warehouse.
The offences, Alajogun added, contravened Section 516 of the Criminal Code Act, 2004.
Count one of the three-count charge marked, FHC/1/388/2019 reads: “That you, Ifeanyi Okoli, 34 years, of No. 5, Igbeyin Adun Street, Shibiri, and Nature’s Breeze of No 5, Igbeyin Adun Street shibiri on or about 31st day of October, 2019, while at a warehouse at No 5, Igbeyin Adun Street, Shibiri, did conspire to ‘commit a felony to wit: imported about 120,000 different brands of substandard electric cables in 13 containers which did not comply with the Standards Organisation of Nigeria Mandatory Industrial Standard before importation and thereby committed an offence contrary to Sections 516, 26(2)(b)(iii) and (3)(a) of the Criminal Code Act CAP C39 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004 and punishable under the same Section.”
Guber Polls: Don’t be partisan in politics, CP urges policemen
Bayelsa State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Uche Alozie, has charged policemen in the state to avoid partisanship in the Saturday gubernatorial poll in the state.
Alozie stated this yesterday in Yenagoa at a workshop, while enlightening policemen on the need for professionalism, before, during and after the election.
The commissioner, who spoke through the Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) in-charge of Administrations, Salem Amachree, said the importance of police to electioneering conduct could not be over-emphasised.
He added: “This programme is apt because for us, Bayelsa is set to go to the polls in the next few days to elect a governor that will govern the state in the next four years. Police in this state have been working round the clock. We have taken steps to ensure that the election will be conducted under a safe and secure environment.
“We have been consulting with stakeholders, youths, political gladiators, traditional rulers, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and they have assured us that they were going to play by the rules.
“Distinguish colleagues, ladies and gentlemen; the summary of my message to you is as follows: I believe I am speaking to members of the Nigerian Police Force. My message to you is that, you should be professional and avoid partisanship. Avoid being in any situation that will be compromising or that will present the Nigeria Police Force in a bad light.”
The Executive Director, Academic Associates Peace Works and Convener, Niger Delta Dialogue, Dr. Judith Burdin, said the workshop was also to educate policemen on the need for quality delivery.
She said: “We feel that it is very important that the police and citizens work together to have a peaceful election. We have developed a Code of Conduct for the police, which have to do with Alertness, Promptness, Professionalism, among others.”
Threatened by landslide, tremour
Many houses in Umuchime, Amuzukwu in Umuahia North Local Government Area of Abia State are sitting precariously on the precipice. If no urgent steps are taken by relevant authorities to check it, more lives and houses would be in jeopardy as a result of a landslide or earth tremour, that has already claimed its first victim. IGBEAKU ORJI, reports
No one knows the cause of the earth movement that almost took the life of a young mother and her two months old baby in Umuchime, Amuzukwu Ibeku in Umuahia North council of Abia State two weeks ago. Those who have tried to explain what the incident is or the possible cause of it could not explicitly pin it to any of the known natural occurrences that could trigger such disaster.
Similarly, none could say what it is, landslide or earth tremour. All efforts to explain what it is are only conjectures. But it is certain that the disaster is not caused by erosion. There is no flooding there, neither is it precipitated by rain.
It is obviously an ecological disaster far beyond the scope of the community or residents of the area to contend.
Ecological disasters are common in Abia State. Almost every community, especially in the Central and Northern parts of the state are prone to one ecological challenge or the other.
In Isuikwuato Local Government, erosion has sacked many communities, washing farm lands and houses. Recently, the member representing Isuikwuato/Umunneochi federal constituency, Hon Nkiruka Onyejeocha, raised the alarm that the scope of the ecological disaster in her constituency was far beyond the community’s capacity to handle.
She recommended that the ecological fund given to states should be separated from the federal allocation account. Also, the member representing Ikwuano/Umuahia federal constituency, Hon Sam Onuigbo, drew the attention of his colleagues to the devastating erosion that has threatened the residential houses and exposed the NNPC/PPMC oil bearing pipes at Umunwanwa in Umuahia South Local Government Area.
This is in addition to the flood that sacked a community in Ohuhu in Umuahia North council area. The list is endless.
But the landslide at Amuzukwu, Umuahia North Local Government Area took everyone by surprise. Though, there is a deep valley in the area, it has been dormant so as long as the villagers could remember. It only became active a few years back, pulling in houses built on the edge of the valley and pushing inwards for more.
Some residents of the area including, Mr Ikechukwu Sunday Ayoka, have brought a superstitious dimension to the incident. According to him, some people in the community have attributed the incident to the anger of a deity, whose abode was encroached upon by land speculators.
But it is obvious that the pressure on the area as a result of human activity has increased from what it used to be. Before now, nobody lived there, or at least, very few people had anything to do with the hitherto serene environment.
The increase in population is another factor. All the houses in the area are new, so the increase in human traffic and activity is the plausible argument for the incident. Though the residents of the area including, Mr Jinanwa Azubuike, a director of Information at the Government House, Umuahia, said there is no flooding there when it rains and the slide is not caused by rain, the extraordinary rain this year contributed largely to the development as the soil is made softer and weaker by the rain.
After the slide pulled down the house of Mrs Ijeoma Emmanuel, where she narrowly escaped with her two months old baby, the rest of the residents of Umuchime Amuzukwu live in perpetual fear.
Even the only access road to the area is threatened and if it crosses the road no house will be spared. In spite of the directive by the Abia State government to the residents to a relocate to safer areas until a permanent solution is found, Mr Azubuike said he has nowhere to go to. He however agrees that with the cracks on the walls, fence and floor of his house, it is only a matter of weeks or months before his house will follow the fate of that of his neighbour.
He painted a pathetic picture of hopelessness regarding his decision to live the danger.
“Well, I don’t have a choice. If I leave here, where will I run to. It’s something I laboured over the years to put up and it appears that in a twinkle of an eye one is going to lose it. It’s really a terrible situation. My appeal is that going by the extent of damage, of course, you’ve seen the devastation, it’s not something any individual or even community can handle. It requires the intervention of both the state and Federal Government. So, I am appealing to the state government and Federal Government and similar agencies to actually come to our aid. If not, in the next few days or weeks or months, no one knows what will happen here.”
He said the landslide developed and grew in dimension recently, arguing that nobody would have built on such danger prone area if it was active.
“ It was not like this when we came in. When we came in five or six years ago, there was nothing like that but we only noticed it two years ago when it started coming up gradually. We also tried to draw the attention of government but we couldn’t succeed because up until now, nothing concrete has been done. I understand a few government officials had earlier visited the area but that is just how it stands. Up till now, we’ve not seen any action.”
Narrating her ordeal, the victim of the destroyed house, and Mr Azubuike’s next door neighbour, Mrs Ijeoma Emmanuel, said she was grateful to God for saving their life even as all their belongings were lost in the incident.
The landslide, she said, swept their property down the great gully with the two bedroom house.
She said she and her baby would have been buried in the rubble if she did not step out at the time she did. “Day before yesterday being 28 of October, I was in my house. I heard a noise and I carried my child. I was looking at the house, the edge of the house was cracking. So, I carried my child and ran away. It didn’t last up to 20minutes after I stepped out, the building collapsed.”
The private school teacher, her husband, a trader and their two-months-old baby are presently taking refuge in a neighbour’s house, a few meters from theirs.
“One of my sisters in the Lord gave us accommodation after the incident. That is where we are in the meantime,” she said.
To Mrs Blessing Chibuzor, a shop owner across the road from the deep valley, there is an uneasy feeling in the area.
“I’m not happy with the occurrence. It’s painful to me. I want the government and relevant authorities to come to our rescue.” The 38-year-old mother of five said they live in fear, especially when it rains.
Ikechukwu Sunday Ayoka, an auto mechanic said he bought land and built house there in 2017. “When I bought the land, it was not like this. It became worse since 2018 because of the heavy rain. It affected one doctor. The erosion even ran far down. Some say it is a spirit/deity that owns the place; others say it is the spring source which makes the earth around there soft. Nobody will tell you it is the abode of a deity when you come to buy; all they care is to sell the land to you and collect money. If people knew this beforehand they would not come to buy land here.”
He appealed to Abia State and Federal Governments to “come urgently to our rescue.”
Hon Chief Loveday is the chairman of the community. He came to see for himself the level of damage and to sympathize with the victims. “I came to see the extent of damage and to sympathize with the victims. Before now, I have taken steps. I have written to the Governor about the incident as early as it started. The governor has photographs of this. I have also written the speaker of the State House of Assembly, Chinedum Orji. I copied Ministry of Environment, I copied SEMA , I copied the local government chairman including Eze of the land. I wrote these letters for them to see our plight . I think the Ministry of Environment visited the site. They took another measure, inviting an expert/consultant, who visited here and saw the plight of our people. Later SEMA came with NEMA. Some experts came here from the Ministry of Environment. They told me we should come forth with further reports. That’s why I am here to see for myself so that I can know what to do.”
Loveday corroborated the report of the residents on when the incident began. “The problem started two years ago when landslide like this occurred. Some of the buildings here were threatened. Many houses and fences are now affected including this very mansion owned by one of our sons. The young man has done a lot to preserve his fence and even his house. It’s a very big threat.”
He lamented that, “most times, when incidences like this occur, government will not respond proactively when they are needed. However, if they can come within a space of time to save others and possibly come to the aid of the victims, the remaining houses will be salvaged.”
The chairman of the community development further noted, “This morning, we heard on air of a nursing mother, who knows, tomorrow it may be a widow or widower. This nursing mother may have children in school. And she has no place to go. I am told she no longer sleeps there, where will the children be to prepare for school. That is my worry.”
According to another resident of the area, Mr Sunday Nwankwo, “I have been here for two years. I did not see this until recently. It is frightening and if nothing is done urgently, it will do more damage. Government should intervene to safeguard the people here before more damage is done.”
Mrs Oluchi Sunday, a trader, called on the government to take action immediately to save the lives and property of the people. “If nothing is done, in no time, all the houses here will fall into this gully.”
Mr Ijekpa Agwu Oge, a 59-year-old bricklayer, said they were overwhelmed and devastated. “We don’t know what to do especially as a family man with many children. I came here to stay and train my children. It was not like this three years ago that we came here. It was July this year, at the peak of the rain that we saw this and we are confused. We don’t sleep in the night when it rains. In fact, when there is heavy rain, we will all come out from our houses to watch and will be beaten by the rain.” The father of 10 said he had been beaten by rain about three times outside for fear of the unknown.
Also, Rev Joseph Igwe, affirmed that “we started noticing it about two months ago. It wasn’t like this all this while we’ve been here. I have been here over three and a half years. I never experienced such a thing but the way it is happening now, it’s so much we can’t sleep because the way the land is degrading and collapsing is frightening.” The clergyman called on the Federal Government to come to their aid.
“We don’t have peace of mind. We don’t know where to go. All efforts we made to build houses here, we don’t know where to go,” he lamented.
The landslide is over 500 meters in diameter and over 2kilometres in length. It has a depth of over 300 meters. Though Mrs Emmanuel’s house is the first to be swept away, the neighbouring houses are threatened by the tremour as the walls, fences and floors have deep cracks.
Over 20 houses are sitting precariously on the edge.
Concerns over abandoned constituency projects
Stakeholders in Uzo-Uwani Local Government Area of Enugu have called for the completion of constituency projects attracted to the area in the last three years.
The call was made during the presentation of Uzo-Uwani Community Constituency Project Tracking Report (2016—2018).
The report was sponsored by an Enugu-based non-governmental organisation, called Divine Era Development and Social Rights Initiatives (DEDSRI), in partnership with ActionAid Nigeria and the support of UKaid.
The Chairman of the Community Constituency Project Tracking Committee, Mr Christian Tagbo, said that some of the projects were attracted by Sen. Chuka Utazi representing Enugu North zone.
Others were attracted by Mrs Stella Ngwu, who represented Igboetiti/Uzo Uwani Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives between 2015 and 2019.
Tagbo said that the area was replete with abandoned projects attracted by the two lawmakers.
He said that out of about 10 borehole projects worth N150million and attracted to the area, only two were completed.
He said that the two functional boreholes were located at Ukpata and Ukpabi communities.
He said that other projects located at Ugbene, Nkpologu, Nkpunator, Odida Nimbo and another one in Ukpata had since been abandoned.
The chairman said that the situations in the affected areas were more complicated as the communities were subjected to adverse water scarcity.
“For instance, the projects in Ugbene and Nkpologu are rated as being completed but it is not functional.
“There are overhead tanks and power houses but no power generating set. The boreholes have not been dug,” he said.
Tagbo said that the situation was the same in most locations, adding that none of their benefactors had given any reason for the abandonment of the projects.
When contacted, Ngwu admitted to attracting an unprecedented number of water projects to the area but said that she was not aware that any of them was abandoned.
She said that she would draw the attention of the contractor that executed her projects.
Ngwu said that some of the projects she attracted were funded in batches.
Also, the Personal Assistant to Utazi, Mr Charles Ogbuanya, said that projects attracted by the senator were either completed or ongoing.
Ogbuanya said that some components of the borehole projects would be installed whenever another tranche of funds were released.
Earlier, the Executive Director, DEDSRI, Ms Ogechukwu Enwelum, said that the constituency tracking project was under the ‘Strengthening Citizens’ Resistance against Prevalence of Corruption’ project.
Enwelum said that the project was being implemented in six states of the federation including Enugu State and in six local government areas of the state.
She said that following a baseline survey by the organisation, it was discovered that the number of projects on ground did not tally with Federal Government’s expenditure since the constituency project regime started.
“Corruption is on the increase and this has affected the quality of life in Nigeria.
“The time has come for communities to rise to the challenge of fighting corruption,” Enwelum said.
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