No fewer than 30 male passengers perished in Adeosun area of Lagos-Ibadan expressway on Sunday morning when a trailer conveying them tumbled. Over 20 people sustained injuries in the crash. The accident occurred along the portion of the expressway which had been recently reconstructed, erasing the insinuation that the accident occurred as a result of the countless potholes on the road.
Our correspondent, who got to the scene of the accident about two hours after it occurred, counted no less than 25 corpses littering the scene of the fatality even as some deceased had earlier on been evacuated to the mortuary. Many of the victims of the accident, which occurred around 7am, were not evacuated until past 9am, reducing the chances of the survival of some of them.
A victim, who lost two relatives, covered the faces of the deceased with clothes and broke down inconsolably. Shouting the name of Allah as he wailed, the victim simply referred to as Mohammed, refused all entreaties as he knelt down between the two corpses and wept bitterly.
One of the survivors of the accident, who gave his name as Mohammed Seripino, said the trailer was coming from Kaduna and had travelled all night. He disclosed that each passenger paid N1,000 as transport fare, adding that the journey from Kaduna up until when the accident occurred, was smooth. “We are all Hausa. We were coming from Kaduna. Each passenger paid N1,000. This (accident) is not good,” he said. An eyewitness, who gave his name as Yinka Dada, said he was seeing his son, who was on the way to Lagos, off to the expressway when the accident occurred.
He said, “I saw everything. I was by the side of the expressway when the accident occurred. I was with my son who was going to Lagos when I saw two trailers speed excessively. “I think the other trailer driver was able to control the wheel while the driver of this trailer lost control, tumbled and spilled out the passengers one after the other.”
Officials of the Federal Road Safety Commission at the Ibadan Tollgate Unit, who came for rescue operation, refused to talk to our correspondent, telling our correspondent to come to the tollgate unit for proper briefing.
“We cannot talk to you now. I am not the boss here. I have bosses who can talk to you later if you come to our unit at the tollgate. You can see we are busy now,” an official told our correspondent.
A senior official who was accosted by our correspondent for an official reaction also declined comment. A police patrol van with two officials also visited the scene. One of the policemen in the van told less critically injured victims to help carry those with critical injuries into the police van. However, a twist crept into the rescue operation as sympathisers who saw the poor response of both the police and the officials of the FRSC began to rain curses on Nigeria’s political class.
An Electrical Engineering student of the Abdul Gusau Polytechnic, Zamfara, who did not disclose his name, said government should be blamed for the poor response to the plight of the victims. The student said, “Our leaders have embezzled all the money that should be used to put infrastructure in place. This is why people are dying like rats and there’s no adequate response operation.”
A middle-age man, Onyekachi Otuonye, lamented rescuers’ response time to the accident. Otuonye said, “This is deplorable. Even slaves should not be treated like this. Human lives should be treated with respect and dignity.” Another sympathiser, Tony Abidogun, said it was absurd for some leaders to embezzle funds and still have the audacity to talk about human rights. “They (leaders) are denying these victims their own right to live. Therefore, their (leaders’) rights should be denied them. They should be tried and hounded into jails if found guilty,” Abidogun said.
A man in a cleric robe who attributed the accident to witches and wizards was shouted down by some sympathisers.