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Richard Mofe-Damijo, Nollywood veteran and Delta State Commissioner, survives car crash

Mr RICHARD MOFE-DAMIJO

On 17 January, Nollywood veteran and Commissioner for Culture and Tourism in Delta State, Mr Richard Mofe-Damijo (RMD), was involved in a car accident in Delta State. He survived the crash.

Details of the accident are still sketchy, but Mr Mofe-Damijo and his driver were said to be travelling to Warri, when the accident occurred somewhere between Urhonigbe in Edo State and Warri in Delta State. The Toyota Prado jeep in which they were travelling somersaulted, after another vehicle rammed into them.

RMD, as he is fondly called, was rescued from the vehicle and taken to a hospital where he was treated for his injuries. Sources close to him said his injuries are not life-threatening.

However, his driver, who suffered more serious injuries, is said to be in critical condition at the hospital. The SUV in which they were travelling is said to have been damaged beyond repair.

An online statement reportedly issued by Mr Mofe-Damijo today, 18 January, said: “Contrary to the rumours yesterday that I was in a coma, unconscious and even dead, I am alive and well. God kept us (my driver and I) alive by His hands”. The statement thanked his fans, friends and the general public for their prayers and good wishes, and urged continued prayers for his driver.

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NEMA ambulance crashes while rushing bomb victims to hospital in Abuja

The crashed NEMA ambulance

On 25 December – Christmas day – an ambulance conveying some victims of the bomb blast which occurred near the St. Theresa’s Catholic Church in Madalla earlier in the day, to a hospital in Abuja, was involved in a road accident.

A statement by the Head of Media and Publicity at the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Mr Yusha’u Shuaib, said three officers of the agency were transferring 27 persons wounded in the Madalla blast, from the National Hospital to the State House Clinic, both in Abuja, when the ambulance crashed.

The ambulance somersaulted after the crash, but information on the circumstances of the accident remains sketchy.

14 die, 13 injured in motor accident in Zamfara State

On 11 November, 14 people died in a motor accident at Wanzamai Village on the Gusau-Zaria road in Tsafe Local Government Area of Zamfara State.

Local sources said the accident, involving a Peugeot J5 bus and a Volkswagen Golf car, occurred at about 9 p.m. The two vehicles collided on a narrow bend close to Wanzamai Village, on the boundary between Zamfara and  Katsina States. The bus caught fire instantly and many of the passengers on board were burnt beyond recognition.

The Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) Sector Commander in Zamfara State, Mr Cheche Orji, said apart from those confirmed dead, 13 others who were injured had been admitted at the General Hospital in Tsafe. Orji said the accident might have been caused by wrong overtaking and expressed the fear that the casualty figure could rise, given the critical conditions of some of the victims that were rushed to hospital. He pleaded with motorists to always drive with great care and to abide by traffic rules and regulations.

16 die in vehicle accident near Okene, Kogi State

On 7 November, at least 16 people including a pregnant woman were killed in a ghastly motor accident near Okene town in Kogi State.

Local sources say the accident on the Ogori-Auchi road, occurred when a vehicle coming from Benin was attempting to overtake another and in the process collided with other vehicles coming from Abuja.

The Kogi State Sector Commander of the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC), Mr Sunday Maku, said the accident involved a Toyota Hiace bus with registration number XT 911 FKJ and another Toyota Hiace bus XJ 700 USL. Maku said 16 people died, 10 were injured while four were unhurt. He said those injured were taken to the General Hospital at Okene, while the corpses of the dead were also deposited at the hospital’s morgue. There were fears that some of the most critically wounded may not survive.

The accident is reportedly one of the worst on that road in recent times. Attributing the crash to dangerous overtaking, the FRSC boss appealed to all drivers to drive with greater care, especially as Christmas is approaching and the volume of traffic on the highways is increasing.

Ambassador Saidu Pindar dies in car crash in Kaduna State

Amb SAIDU PINDAR

On 31 August, Alhaji Saidu Shettima Pindar, Nigeria’s pioneer Ambassador to Sao Tome and Principe, died a car accident. The accident occurred on the Kaduna-Zaria road in Kaduna State.

Details of the accident are yet to be confirmed, but sources said he was traveling to Kano at the time he died. One source said the accident was caused by the bad condition of some spots on the road, but this too, had not been verified.

Ambassador Pindar was born in Biu, Biu Local Government Area of Borno State, on 19 August 1954. He obtained an Electrical Engineering Diploma from Kaduna Polytechnic in 1976, Bachelor of Electrical Engineering Degree from the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, in 1980, and subsequently a Master’s Degree in Communication Engineering from the University of Manchester’s Institute of Science and Technology (UMIST) in United Kingdom.

He started his working life with the Borno State Civil Service, rising to become the Director of Engineering/Chief Engineer at the Borno Radio and Television (BRTV) before transferring to the Federal Civil Service in 1987.

In October 1998, he was posted to the Embassy of Nigeria, Rome, Italy, as Minister-Plenipotentiary and Extraordinary. While on that post, he received commendations from the Italian Ministry of Interior, the Italian Immigration and Frontier Service and a Christian NGO for his commitment towards combating human trafficking and for his compassionate treatment of trafficked Nigerians.

In 2000, he was appointed Nigeria’s pioneer Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Democratic Republic of Sao Tome & Principe. At that post, he was credited with contributing immensely to the ratification of the Treaty establishing the Nigeria-Sao Tome & Principe Joint Development Zone (JDZ). He voluntarily retired from the Federal Civil Service after 32 years of public service. In 2004, he was conferred with a National Honour, Officer of the Order of the Niger (OON).

Even in retirement, he remained active in private business as well as in political and public life. He was the founder and promoter of Maitama Amusement Park, a leisure and entertainment centre situated in the high brow Maitama district of Abuja. He was also the Executive Chairman of Subotech Engineering Ltd, a company supplying and installing broadcast equipment nationwide.

Politically, he was a member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). In October 2009, he was appointed by then President Umaru Yar’Adua, into the board of the Nigeria-Sao Tome and Principe Joint Development Authority (NSTP-JDA). He was later the deputy governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Borno State in the April 2011 general elections, but his party did not win.

Ambassador Pindar was a member of several professional bodies, including the Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE) and the Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria (COREN).

He was a founding member of the Biu Emirate Development Association (BEDA) and also the Biu Forum. In recognition of his contributions to the development of Biu Emirate, HRH Alhaji Umar Mustapha Aliyu, the Emir of Biu elevated him from the position of Jarma of Biu to Waziri of Biu in January 2005.

A philanthropist, he sponsored hundreds of students in various schools in Borno, Yobe and Bauchi State under the Shettima Pindar Foundation.

He was happily married and blessed with children.

In a condolence message to the late ambassador’s family, Borno State Governor Kashim Shettima expressed shock over the unfortunate incident. He described the late Pindar as a visionary, humble and de-tribalized man, who dedicated his life to the cause of transforming not only Borno State, but the Nigerian nation.

TRAGIC: 34 travellers killed in multiple crash in Ondo State

On 29 August, 34 people died in a multiple motor accident along the Akure-Owo Expressway in Ondo State. Sixteen of them were burnt alive.

Local sources report that the crash, which involved two Abuja-bound buses and a trailer, occurred around 7.45pm on Kilometre 14 of the Akure-Owo Road, near the Possibility Church in Ogbese town.

Briefing newsmen in Akure, the Police spokesman for the state, Mr Adeniran Aremu, said the crash occurred late on Monday. He said the two buses were on high speed, and that as one of them attempted to overtake the other, it rammed into a trailer marked XN769ABC, which was also coming at considerable speed from Owo.

He said the bus and the trailer went up in flames instantly. Efforts by the Police and other road users to put out the fire and save those trapped in the vehicles were apparently too feeble and ultimately futile. All passengers on the bus that directly rammed into the trailer were burnt to death, beyond recognition. Those in the other bus (marked XZ 976 AKD), though not burnt, also all died on the spot, after their bus crashed into the bush. The police spokesman said all the corpses had been taken to the mortuary at the Specialist hospital in Akure.

However, while Mr Aremu had reported 30 persons killed in the crash, the Sector Commander of the Federal Roads Safety Commission (FRSC), Mr. John Meheux, said the report he received indicated 34 persons dead. He said the casualties comprised 14 persons in the bus that collided with the trailer, two persons in the trailer, and 18 persons in the bus that crashed into the bush. He said three persons in the second bus survived with injuries.

A local source said the discrepancy in casualty figures may have arisen from the fact that some of the corpes in the first bus were incinerated almost completely, and therefore barely recognizable as human bodies. On why the bus drivers were speeding so recklessly, he said they may have been rushing to make the most of the large number of passengers at commercial vehicle parks, seeking to travel for the Eid-El-Fitri celebrations. The source added that there was now a need for closer monitoring of speeding on highways, and much higher penalties against over-speeding drivers.

Fire accident in Enugu: 6 feared dead, over 20 houses destroyed

Oil tanker fire (File photo).

On 28 July, about six people were feared dead, with scores of buildings and automobiles razed, after a fuel-laden tanker caught fire and exploded at a roundabout near the popular Ogbete Market in Enugu, capital of Enugu State. The Ogbete market is the largest market in the city.

Mr. Sikiru Raimi, Commandant, Enugu State Command of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), said the incident occurred when the tanker loaded with diesel lost control while negotiating the roundabout. Witnesses said the crash was followed by leakage of fuel from the tanker, operated by the Port Harcourt-based Shorelink Oil and Gas Services Company.

They said as the leaked fuel flowed into the barracks of the Enugu Central Police Station and some parts of the Ogbete market, the tanker driver raised alarm and ran to the police station to seek for help; one source said there was no immediate response, apparently as the police had no fire-prevention equipment. A short while later, the tanker exploded and went up in huge flames.

The Deputy Commissioner of Police in the state, Mr Steven Ekpei, confirmed three people dead. But local residents and witnesses said apart from the three charred bodies recovered initially, the toll may be up to six. Over 20 buildings, housing officers of the Nigeria Police Force and the Nigeria Prisons Service, were burnt. About 10 cars and several motorcycles were also in ruins. As the fire also destroyed poles and cables of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN), the company’s Principal Manager, Public Affairs, Mr Eseme Udo, said some facilities, including the Enugu Prisons, may run without electricity for some time.

Witnesses say personnel from the Enugu Fire Service, and their colleagues from other agencies like the NSCDC and Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), rallied to save the market and the police station from ruin. But they said fire-fighting vehicles could not get to some of the burning buildings as structures constructed without approvals blocked access routes. Some fire-fighters, injured while battling the inferno, were later rushed to Parklane Hospital.

Addressing reporters shortly after inspecting the scene of the accident, the Deputy Governor, Mr Sunday Onyebuchi, said the state government would do everything possible to minimise the damage from such accidents in future. He said as a first step, Governor Sullivan Chime had ordered the demolition and clearance of all illegal structures in the city, within the next two weeks.

He praised the Fire Service and other emergency agencies for their quick response to the incident and pledged the state government’s assistance to alleviate the suffering of the victims.

Five killed, 8 injured in vehicle accident on Kaduna bridge

On 25 July, five people were killed while eight others were seriously injured in an accident involving an 18-seater commercial bus and a trailer on the River Kaduna bridge, in Kaduna State.

Local sources said the commercial bus marked AE 262 DKA, was coming from Central Market and heading to Unguwar Romi in the southern part of the state. With 13 persons on board including the driver, the bus ran into the trailer which had broken down on the fast lane of the bridge, at around 9.30 pm. Witnesses say the bus was crushed under the trailer, killing four of the occupants instantly, while one more died later.

Personnel of the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) reportedly swung into action immediately they were informed of the accident, rescuing survivors from the wreckage and rushing them to Saint Gerard Hospital in Kauri. They also took the corpses of the dead to the same hospital.

The Sector Commander of the FRSC’s  Kaduna Sector Command, Mr. Harrison Pepple, blamed the accident on over-speeding by the bus driver. He said: “The driver was over-speeding and that was why he rammed into the trailer. There is urgent need for attitudinal change among road users in the country to avoid accidents”. Pepple added that: “Whenever a vehicle breaks down, the driver must report to us or police in order to evacuate it”.

The Public Relations Officer of the Command, Superintendent Route Commander Yunusa Ibrahim, added that the bus driver was not only on high speed, but may also have been under high influence of either drugs or alcohol, for him not to have seen the stationary trailer on the speed lane.

However, other sources further report that the bus was probably not roadworthy in the first place. They said it had failed to start on its own at the Central Market, until passengers pushed it to life. It also reportedly had no headlight, making it impossible for the driver to see into the darkness ahead, and thus avoid the broken-down trailer.

MANY CRUSHED TO DEATH IN MULTIPLE ACCIDENTS IN ABUJA

One of the buses crushed in the accident

On 18 July, at least 14 people died instantly, in two multiple road accidents along the Nyanya-Karu road, in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. Some unconfirmed reports say the casualties may have subsequently risen to over 30.

Local sources said in the first accident, which occurred around 2.15pm at Furniture Market, Kugbo, a trailer ran into a Toyota Corolla car, crushing its two occupants to death instantly.

Shortly after that, another trailer lost control around Mechanics Village, also in Kugbo, and ran into eight other vehicles, comprising three private cars, four commercial buses, and one taxi cab. Twelve people died on the spot. Ten others, suffering various degrees of injury, were rushed to hospitals in the Asokoro and Maitama districts.

Apart from those who died instantly, several others wounded are reported to have died as they were being rushed to hospitals or shortly after getting there. One source reports that the casualties may have exceeded 30, but this has not been confirmed.

Rescue workers from the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) and the police rushed to the scene to help survivors and recover bodies from the wreckage of the many vehicles that were involved in the accident.

As the second accident drew large crowds of rescue workers and other onlookers, it caused a massive pile-up of traffic for several kilometres in both directions of the highway.

[THIS REPORT WILL BE UPDATED AS MORE INFORMATION BECOMES AVAILABLE LATER TODAY].

MAJOR ROAD ACCIDENTS IN NIGERIA: JAN – JUNE 2011

1 February: 18 people die in an accident along Dutsin-ma-Kankara road in Danmusa Local Government Area of Katsina State killed 18 persons leaving five others with serious wounds.

8 March: 13 persons died in a ghastly motor accident in Bakiyawa Village in Batsari Local Government Area of Katsina State. The accident involved a Mitsubishi Canter bus with 26 passengers and an articulated tipper lorry belonging to a construction firm.

8 March: 14 persons died in a fatal motor accident along the Benin-Ore road in Edo State. According to some local sources, the accident occurred when the driver of a commercial bus, in the course of overtaking a truck, ran into an on-coming trailer.

12 March: Six persons believed to be members of the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP), died when their bus colided with a goods-laden truck,  in Oyo town. About 15 others were reportedly injured.

15 March: Seven people were killed when the motorcade of the Katsina State Governor, Alhaji Ibrahim Shema, got involved in an accident on Katsina-Daura Road. The governor was unhurt, but his Aide-de-Camp, Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) Aminu Ibrahim and eix others died.10 other persons sustained injuries.

19 March: About 18 people died, after an 18-seater commercial bus conveying passengers from the eastern part of the country to Lagos, plunged into the Ogbese River near Ugbogi Village, on the border area of Edo and Ondo States.

26 March: Two policemen died while four others suffered injuries, when a vehicle on the motorcade of the Zamfara State governor, Alhaji Mahmud Aliyu Shinkafi had a ghastly accident as the team was heading to a campaign rally in Maradun, headquarters of Maradun Local Government Area of the state.

1 April:  About 30 people were killed in a fatal road accident at a check-point in Narabi village, on the Bauchi State stretch of the Jos-Bauchi highway. The driver of a fuel tanker reportedly lost control and ran into several vehicles awaiting security clearance, at a check-point manned by police and military personnel.

12 April: 18 people were confirmed dead in Sabon Wuse, along the Abuja-Kaduna expressway, after an 18-seater bus travelling from Lagos to Kaduna crashed into a stationary trailer.

13 May:  At least 18 people died while 11 others sustained various injuries as two buses colided and caught fire instantly, near Potiskum in Yobe State.

23 May:  Alhaji Balarabe Musa, 34, who had just been elected to the House of Representatives at the 9 April polls, to represent Kumbotso constituency in Kano State, died in a car crash. The accident occurred on the Abuja–Kano highway, at a town called Tafa in Niger State.

27 May: 26 people were burnt to death in a huge inferno resulting from a motor accident in front of the popular Yaoland Fuel Station along the intra-city Iwo Road-Ojoo route in Ibadan, Oyo State.About 25 vehicles and other equipment worth several millions of naira also perished in the tragedy.

27 May:  Seven persons, including Alhaji Kolo Makama, senior special assistant on special duties/legal matters to the Niger State governor, Dr. Muazu Babangida Aliyu, died in a crash. along Bida road in Niger State. The accident occurred just about 48 hours to the governor’s inauguration for a second term.

1 June: 10 people were killed in a ghastly motor accident at Abukur village along Katsina-Kano road.

7 June: Seven students of Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria,died when the commercial bus in which they were riding collided head-on with a petrol tanker.

8 June: 21 persons, including two pregnant women and seven toddlers, died in an auto crash at Ilara Mokin, near Akure, capital of Ondo State.

20 June:  28 people died when buses operated by two Enugu-based transport companies (Peace Mass Transit, PMT, and the Enugu State Transport Company, ENTRACO) collided on the Enugu-Nsukka Highway; four of the casualties were members of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) who were returning to their homes after the national service in one  of  the northern states.

20 June: At least 18 people, died in an accident on the Ibadan–Lagos Expressway, according to witnesses. However, FRSC officials later said seven people died.

24 June: Five candidates for the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) travelling from Yenagoa in Bayelsa State to Port Harcourt, Rivers State, died in an auto crash at the Ahoada axis of the East-East road in Rivers State.

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