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Ajayi Crowther University shut, following violent students’ protest

On 6 February, the authorities of Ajayi Crowther University, a private institution owned by the Anglican Communion in Oyo town, Oyo State, ordered the immediate closure of the school after its students had gone on rampage. The students were protesting the death of a colleague who passed away at the institution’s health centre.

According to local sources, Elvis Abu Paul, aged 22, a 300-level Computer Science student, was rushed to the health centre on Sunday 5 February, after he had suddenly taken ill. The doctors on duty immediately placed him on oxygen. The accounts said Elvis allegedly died after men of the Works Department mistakenly switched off the generating set which was powering the oxygen machine at the health centre.

Another source further claimed that attempts to rush Elvis to the general hospital in town were frustrated by security men at the main gate, on the contention that the university’s ambulance that was taking him out had no exit pass.

The university management was yet to issue an official report on the circumstances in which the student died.

However, alleging that Elvis’ death was caused by the “carelessness and negligence” of the institution’s management, hundreds of students trooped out on a street protest. Chanting war songs, they barricaded the entrance to the institution and set up bonfires on the Oyo-Ogbomoso highway.

The students then destroyed the university’s health centre, pulled down part of the perimeter fence by the main gate and burnt down the Accounting and Economics Department, including research materials, books and vehicles belonging to some lecturers.

Alarmed at the destruction, the university management hurriedly ordered an immediate and indefinite closure. The Public Relations Officer (PRO), Mrs Wale Ademowo, said students had been directed to leave the campus for their homes. Armed policemen from the Oyo Division were drafted to Oyo town to prevent further breakdown of law and order, while students evacuated the campus.

Sources said this breach of peace and order on the campus is unprecedented in the seven years since the university was established.

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FLOODS IN NIGERIA: FACTFILE ON A SILENT DISASTER

Residents gather in shock around a collapsed bridge in Ibadan

BY NNAMDI OBASI

The flood disaster in Ibadan, Nigeria, which has now claimed over 100 lives, has been described as “one of the worst natural disasters in the country’s recent history”. Unfortunately, it occurred while Nigerians were still in shock, following the bombing of the United Nations House in Abuja – and it didn’t come with a bang. It has therefore been under-reported in the media.

With the flood waters gradually receding, the worst days of the nightmare may have passed; yet major challenges remain. This document presents some basic facts about the disaster, the response so far and the pressing needs.

What happened and where?

Between Friday 27 and Sunday 29 August, massive rainfall produced flash floods in and around the city of Ibadan, in southwest Nigeria.

The city, located about 150km (90 miles) north of Nigeria’s former capital, Lagos, is a mighty metropolis with an estimated population of seven million. One of Nigeria’s largest cities, it is also overcrowded, with its predominantly low-income residents living mostly in haphazardly constructed slums.

After a massive tropical rain had pounded the city for several hours, the Odo Ona River overflowed its banks and the Eleyele dam apparently collapsed. Water from the swollen river and dam swept settlements, leaving many dead or displaced from their homes, and a lot of property destroyed. The areas most affected are Elebu, Oluyole, Apete, Apata, Odo-ona, Odo-ona Elewe, Ologun-eru, Challenge-Orita and Yemetu Alawada.

How many people were killed?

On 31 August, the Nigerian Red Cross reported at least 102 people dead since the rains and floods started. Many of the victims were washed away by the floods; others trapped in collapsed buildings. Most were children; in one case, seven of them from the same family all died!

However, officials cautioned that the reported 102 may not be the final figure. They said a final figure will require more time, as the rains were continuing in some areas, water levels remained high in some neighbourhoods and some victims may still be trapped in collapsed buildings whose rubble were yet to be cleared. They said more victims may also be found in remote areas that rescue teams had not yet reached.

How many people were displaced?

The earliest media reports had estimated about 1,500 residents displaced, but this was soon found to be a gross under-estimate and the figure has been revised as the full scale of the tragedy became evident. On 28 August, an official of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) said an accurate head count of the displaced many not be possible but that it was “definitely in the thousands”. More recent estimates report about 15,000 people may have been displaced.

How much of infrastructure and property was destroyed?

Homes turned to lagoons

The floods swept off fixed structures including three bridges, houses and electric poles, as well as mobile assets like cars and motorcycles. Many vehicles were submerged. Many residents, who were away from their homes when the flooding started, returned later to find such homes turned into lagoons. At the University of Ibadan, the nation’s premier university, some lecture halls were overtaken by water. One source reports over 200 houses. 

Why was the damage so severe or extensive?

The rains have been unusually heavy this year. Although flooding is common in Nigeria during the rainy season, meteorologists say this year’s rains have been well above the average.

The settlements surrounding the city were developed largely informally. The Nigerian poet J. P Clarke once described the city and its settlements as a “running splash of rust and gold, flung and scattered among seven hills, like broken china in the sun”. Like in most other cities across the country, Ibadan had grown, over the years, with scant regard for town planning regulations. Zoning laws were rarely heeded or enforced, and there had been inadequate considerations for drainage, flood management and public safety.  

Many homes, built by low-income residents, were poorly constructed: they were so feeble that they were easily washed away when the water rushed through.

The flooding was exacerbated by rubbish and debris clogging drains, in a city where drainage systems are often poorly maintained.

How else has the disaster affected lives in the city?

The collapse of bridges has created difficulties for human and vehicular movements in some parts of the city. In such areas, people now have to walk long distances while trying to get from their homes to other places. As some roads are presently out of use, there are serious traffic gridlocks on some of the usable roads, with workers facing greater challenges in getting to work and back. Fallen electricity poles, submerged transformers and flooded offices have prevented the restoration of electricity to many neighbourhoods.

Was there any early warning ahead of the disaster?

It was generally known that flooding could occur in any part of the country, as it sometimes does during the rainy season typically running from May to September. Last year, an estimated 500,000 people were displaced by several flooding incidents in various parts of the country.

For this year in particular, NEMA had warned that rains will be heavier than last year. The agency had alerted state and local governments that floods were particularly likely in areas with inadequate drainage and improperly disposed trash. But many governments did little or nothing in response to those warnings.

What has been the response?

Various governments and agencies have responded to the disaster, with the Oyo State government and NEMA – a federal government agency – on the frontline.

The Oyo State governor, Chief Abiola Ajimobi (1) procured the services of a helicopter for rapid assessment of the affected areas, rescue of trapped victims and distribution of relief materials; (2) ordered immediate establishment of two camps at the Apete and Odo Ona areas of the city to shelter displaced persons; (3) ordered immediate procurement of blankets, mattresses, drugs and food for affected persons; (4) enlisted the support of the GOC, 2nd Mechanised Division, in providing bailey bridges across the two rivers whose bridges were swept off.

Alarmed by reports of the flooding, in addition to the Abuja bomb blast, NEMA’s Director General, Mohammed Sidi (1) cut short his annual leave in Saudi Arabia and flew home to coordinate the response to both incidents; and (2) ordered all staff of the agency’s Ibadan zone office that had been on annual leave back to work immediately, and (3) drafted Search and Rescue officers in Lagos to Ibadan, to complement the efforts of the zonal office.

Furthermore, NEMA, in collaboration with the Police, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), Red Cross and other voluntary organizations conducted assessments of the flooded ares and the number of dead, displaced and at risk persons.

The agency, along with its state counterpart (the State Emergency Management Agency, SEMA) and the Red Cross, has also been involved in providing relief materials to about 1,500 displaced persons being sheltered in centres established by the state government. Relief materials being provided include emergency food rations, mattresses, blankets and rubber mats.

What needs to be done now?

The materials which the Oyo State government and NEMA are providing, in efforts to stabilize the conditions of injured and displaced persons, are not enough. Th quantities of these materials being provided need to be sharply increased to meet the crying needs.

Beyond the most pressing needs, there are also longer term requirements for the resources which impacted communities need to ward off health risks and which displaced persons need to rebuild homes and livelihoods.

The Deputy Governor, Chief Moses Adeyemo, has said the state needs federal government help to resettle displaced persons, and to rebuild the bridges and water channels that were destroyed by the flooding.

NEMA is urging the Oyo State government, as well as the local governments, to strengthen and enforce regulations on waste disposal, particularly stopping the indiscriminate dumping of refuse, in order to forestall a recurrence of the flood.

Is there any risk of further flooding?

NEMA warns there could still be more flooding in Ibadan and other urban areas before the end of the rainy season, particularly if drains remain blocked by un-cleared waste.

Gunmen kill Justice Ruth Oyetunde, former Chief Judge of Oyo State, in Ibadan

A former Acting Chief Judge of Oyo State, Justice Ruth Oyetunde (rtd), has been assassinated in Ibadan, capital of Oyo State.

Sources said gunmen invaded her residence on Ondo road in the Old Bodija area of the city, overpowered the securitymen at the compound, before they got into the house and killed her. The gunmen made away with her car.

The Commissioner of Police in Oyo State, Mr. Moses Oniteri, who confirmed the assassination to some newsmen, said the command was investigating the circumstances surrounding the killing. He said it was “a case of murder”.

Justice Oyetunde was appointed acting Chief Judge by former Governor Rasheed Ladoja in 2005, to succeed Justice Isaac Olukanmi.  She served for three months, but her appointment was not renewed thereafter.

Police re-deploys 27 Commissioners to State Commands and Force Headquarters

On 11 July, the Inspector General of Police, Mr Hafiz Ringim, ordered the immediate redeployment of 27 Commissioners of Police (CPs) to state commands and and to departments at the Force headquarters in Abuja.

Details of the new postings, which were contained in a release from the office of the Force Secretary and dated 12 July 2011, are as follows:

Commissioers of Police appointed to new States:

1. CP Baba Adisa Bolanta, formerly in Oyo State, deployed to Sokoto State.

2. CP Ibrahim Mohammed is redeployed as CP for Katsina State.

3. CP Simeon D. Midenda, formerly CP Federal Operations, moved to Borno State.

4. CP Ibrahim Idris is the new CP for Kano State.

5. CP Ikechukwu Aduba is the new CP for Bauchi State.

6. CP Michael Zuokummoh, formerly of Niger State is new CP, Federal Capital Territory.

7. CP Mohammed Jinjiri Abubakar, formerly of Borno State is new CP Jigawa State.

8. CP Emmanuel Ayeni, formerly of Ebonyi State is now CP Plateau State.

9. CP Lateef Abiodun Junaid is new CP for Kebbi State.

10. CP Emmanuel Obiakor, formerly of Nasarawa State is now CP Benue State;

11. CP Ibrahim Maishanu is now CP Niger State.

12. CP Musa Abdusalam Daura is now CP Nassarawa State.

13. CP Haruna John, formerly of the FCT, now takes charge of Federal Operations.

14. CP Saliu Argungu Hashimu is the new CP in charge of Oyo State.

15. CP Nicholas Nkemdeme is the new CP for Ogun State.

16. CP Tambari Y. Mohammed is now CP in charge in Imo State.

17. CP Adeola Adejiri is now CP in charge of Ebonyi State.

18. CP Charles Abutu is now CP in charge of Ondo State.

Commissioners of Police appointed to new posts at Force Headquarters in Abuja:

1. CP Sabo Ringim Ibrahim, formerly of Katsina State now CP in charge of X-Squad Force Criminal Investigation.

2. CP Hassan Adamu is now in charge of Homicide FCID.

3. CP Ikemefuna Okoye is now CP Training at ‘E’ Department.

4. CP Emmanuel K. Udeoji is now Deputy Force Secretary at Force HQ.

5. CP Buhari Tanko is now CP ‘MSD’ F Department Force HQ

6. CP Joseph Ibi is now CP in charge of General Investigations at FCID;

7. CP Mohammed A. Indabawa is the new CP in charge of Administration at Police College, Kano.

8. CP Sani J. Magaji is the new CP in charge of ‘Admin’ at ‘E’ Department at Force Headquarters.

9. CP Fabian Orji is now CP Anti-Fraud Squad FCID.

The announcement of the new postings by the Force Secretary, said they are all with immediate effect.

President of Nigerian medical students, Auwal Shanono, killed in transport workers’ fight in Ibadan, Oyo State

A scene of the violence around Iwo Road, Ibadan

On 5 June, the national president of the Nigerian Medical Students’ Association (NIMSA), Mr. Auwal Bala Shanono, was killed in a fight between factions of the National Union of Road Transport Workers, in Ibadan, Oyo State.

Auwal was a 500 Level medical student at the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. He met his tragic death on his way back from Ile-Ife, Osun State, where he had attended a national conference on preventing maternal mortality in Nigeria (UNICEF’s State of the World’s Children Report 2009 says “one out of nine global maternal deaths occurs in Nigeria”).

Innocent students caught in a senseless fight

Reports say Auwal, along with four other students, had stopped over at Iwo Road, Ibadan, to board a night bus to Kaduna. On getting there, they were caught in an ambush laid by one of the NURTW factions which had been locked in a vicious struggle for control of public motor parks in the city. Reports say Auwal was shot dead and burnt beyond recognition. The other four students escaped death by the whiskers.

His remains were laid to rest on 8 June, at the Unguwar Kanawa Muslim cemetery in Kaduna. The burial was attended by hundreds of tearful family members, relations, neighbours, friends and course mates.

Griefing Family Seeks Justice

His immediate elder brother, Haruna Bala Shanono, who spoke for the family, lamented that Auwal was their future, “our last hope on this earth”. The grief-stricken Haruna said the late Auwal “was the first person to study Medicine in our whole family, including the extended one consisting of over 500 people. He was everything to us”. He pleaded with President Goodluck Jonathan to ensure that the killers are brought to book.

The National Association of Kogi State Students has also called on the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Hafiz Ringim, to arrest and prosecute all those involved in the killing. The association’s president, Mr. Dare Zacheus, who made the call in Lokoja on 8 June, further urged the Oyo State government to inaugurate a high-powered panel to investigate the incident and compensate innocent victims.

26 killed in motor accident and inferno in Ibadan, Oyo State

On 27 May, 26 people were burnt to death in a huge inferno resulting from a motor accident in Ibadan, Oyo State. About 25 vehicles and other equipment worth several millions of naira also perished in the tragedy.

The accident occurred around 10.30 a.m. in front of the popular Yaoland Fuel Station along the intra-city Iwo Road-Ojoo route in Ibadan. Local sources said it involved a petrol tanker which, in trying to avoid collision with an 18-seater bus, ran into an electric pole. As the tanker was loaded with petroleum products, its contents spilled and then it burst into flames.

All 18 passengers in the bus were burnt to death. A nursing mother, who was selling engine oil by the roadside, died while trying to save her baby trapped in the burning wreckage. Witnesses said about eight roadside mechanics also died in the inferno, while many others were seriously injured and rushed to various hospitals. The fire, which spread up to about 100 metres, also affected about seven buildings in the vicinity, including a church.

For hours, officers of the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) and the Nigeria Police Force battled the chaotic traffic situation created by numerous motorists who were frantically trying to get past the obstruction caused by the accident. However, the Sector Commander of the FRSC in Oyo State, Mr Godwin Ogagaoghene, later said his men had brought the situation under control.

SSS arrests printer with 7,000 ballot papers in Ibadan, Oyo State

On 6 April, men of the State Security Service (SSS) arrested a man for printing ballot papers illegally in Ibadan, Oyo State. At the time of his arrest, the man had printed 7,000 copies of the ballots.

According to security sources, the man was nabbed at his printing press in the Mokola area of the city around 4:30pm. He was immediately taken to Mokola Police Station for interrogation, and later moved to the State Criminal Investigations Department (CID) of the Police Command for further questioning. It is not clear who he was printing the ballot papers for.

The new Commissioner of Police (CP) for the State, Mr Saliu Hashimu, confirmed the arrest to newsmen. He said he had instructed his deputy to handle the matter and to brief him properly on Thursday 7 April.

ACN member killed, 4 others injured in Ogbomoso, Oyo State

On 2 April, a member of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), Mr Isiaka Ademola, was killed by people suspected to be supporters of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Gbede, Surulere Local Government Area, near Ogbomoso, in Oyo State.

Local sources say the incident occurred during the accreditation of voters for the National Assembly election which was later postponed. The circumstances leading to the death are not clear, but a source said the suspected thugs attacked the late Ademola with machetes and he died shortly after. The source said Ademola’s body was taken to the Police Area Command in Ogbomoso where a formal report was made. Four other persons, who were injured, were taken to a nearby private hospital for treatment.

The Oyo State Police spokesman, Mr Olatunji Ajimuda, confirmed the incident. Supporters of the deceased have vowed to seek judicial redress.

Bill against violence: Rights activist Okei-Odumakin urges action

Dr JOE OKEI-ODUMAKIN, President, Women Arise

On 22 March, Dr. Joe Okei-Odumakin, President of Women Arise, a non-governmental organisation, called on Nigerians to prevail on members of the National Assembly to pass the Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Bill 2010 into law. The bill is currently awaiting third reading in the House of Representatives.

Okei-Odumakin, a leading human rights activist, made the call in Ibadan, Oyo State, at a lecture titled ‘100 years of International Women’s Day: What situation for Nigeria?”. The lecture was organised by the Nigerian Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ), Oyo State chapter, to mark the 2011 International Women’s Day.

Explaining the background to the bill, Okei-Odumakin observed that despite the fact that Nigeria was not at war, its citizens suffer a high level of physical, sexual and psychological violence. She noted that women and young girls were disproportionately victims of such violence. She also argued that equal access to education, training, science and technology, as a pathway to decent work for women, could only be achieved in an environment free of violence and discrimination.

She explained that the bill now before the National Assembly seeks to eliminate all forms of violence in both public and private life; prohibit physical, sexual and psychological violence and harmful traditional practices among others. She recalled that a public hearing on the bill, which was supported by relevant committees in the National Assembly and non-governmental organisations, took place on 17 February 2011. She therefore urged the law-makers to expedite their deliberations and pass the bill into law.

The organisation, Women Arise, works for women, helping them to break the culture of silence, to express themselves in the social, political and economic relations in Nigeria, and to stand together in resisting misuse and abuse by the male-dominated society.

Gunmen abduct Julius Olaoye, Accord Party leader allied to Rasheed Ladoja, in Ibadan, Oyo State

On 20 March, a leader of the Accord Party (AP), Mr Julius Olaoye, was seized by men suspected to be factional members of the proscribed National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital. Olaoye is believed to be a strong loyalist of the former Governor of Oyo State, Senator Rasheed Ladoja, who is now the AP governorship candidate.

The incident reportedly occurred at the Accord Party office in the Iyana Church area of the city, at about 7pm. A factional leader of the NURTW was said to have led the armed men in a Mercedes Benz jeep. They were said to have stormed the AP office at Iyana Church area of the city, forcefully flung Olaoye into their jeep and rough-handled those who attempted to stop them. A member of the party, Mr. Ajasa Balogun, and his wife, Kehinde, were injured, while reportedly putting up a fight against the suspected kidnappers. Olaoye was whisked away to an unknown destination. 

The AP House of Assembly candidate in Lagelu Constituency, Mr. Temitope Olatoyin (a.k.a Sugar) told newsmen that the case had been reported at Monatan police station. He said the party had also petitioned the State Commissioner of Police, Mr Adisa Bolanta.

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