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Lagos train accident: Survivors recount experience of black Thursday




Thursday began on a good note for about 100 Lagos State civil servants when they set out for work. But it soon turned ugly when the bus they were travelling in was rammed by a train at the Shogunle railway crossing.

By the time the dust from the crash cleared, six of them had died while 79 were left injured with varying degree of inuries and battling for their lives in the hospital. At least, two women died on the spot,

The train’s registration number is 2215; the staff bus’ number is 04A-48LA.

The victims blamed the driver for being reckless as he made to cross the level crossing at PWD, close to Shogunle on the rail corridor.

A survivor, Kazeem Abiola, who sat by the door, said the bus was midway through the rail at the Shogunle level crossing when the train crashed into it.

He said the bus had sped past the train around Ladipo Bus Stop on the Old Agege Motor Road.

When they got to the PWD level crossing, they warned the driver to slow down and wait for the train.

“He shouted us down, thinking he could speed past before the train would catch up with us,” Abiola said.

“We warned him to allow the train to go, but he was adamant.

“Everybody was shouting, cautioning him, but he cared less.

“Half of the bus had crossed the rail track before the train hit us.

“The last I heard was the crash and I passed out.

“I regained consciousness here (LASUTH Emergency Unit).”

The train, on Iddo-Ijoko Mass Transit Train Service, was operated by the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC).

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The victims who suffered various degrees of injuries spoke at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH), Ikeja.

Anuoluwapo Musa, a staff of the Lagos State Emergency Maintenance Agency (LASEMA) said that the bus, which was coming from Ikotun, picked him up at Jakande Estate.

He said he jumped and broke his arm.

“I was at the back when the incident occurred.

“I heard the bedlam as those in the front row were shouting down the driver. Not quite long, we were hit by the train.

“I was conscious enough to jump out of the bus while the train was still dragging our bus on the rail track,” he said.

Another victim said she also jumped out of the bus. She also suffered an arm injury.

The bus, which was navigating inward to Ikeja, was trapped by the train’s magnets, it was learnt.

Commuters paused to offer assistance.

The NRC, in a statement by the Deputy Director of Public Relations, Mamood Yakub, said the passenger train was coming from Ijoko in Ogun State to Iddo Railway Station in Lagos.

The statement reads: “The general public may wish to note that NRC had put in place level crossing control and management procedures necessary for preventing accidents by deploying mechanisms and level crossing staff that work at the level crossing across the country to prevent accidents.

“The Corporation is and will continue to appeal to all and sundry to please ensure restraint and strictly observe caution signs and instruction from officials when approaching railway level crossing and completely stop their vehicles when directed to do so by the Level Crossing Keeper and officials to ensure seamless movement of trains and safe crossing of the motorist as well as pedestrians.

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“We must also be aware that the Railway has the right of way in any city that has the benefits of train services, hence, the Railway track must be kept free from walking and trading at all times.

“All level crossings are manned 24 hours and the management of the NRC will not relent in its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) of advising drivers and pedestrians to always comply strictly with instructions given by the railway staff at the level crossing.

“Meanwhile, we will continue to collaborate with Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), State Traffic Management Agencies such as Lagos State Traffic Management Agency (LASMA), etc, to ensure the prevention of incidents of vehicles colliding with moving trains.”

The Corporation commiserated with the people and government of Lagos and prayed for the repose of the dead while wishing the injured a speedy recovery.

Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu and the Minister for Transportation Mu’azu Jaji Sambo expressed deep shock and sorrow over the accident.

The governor confirmed that six passengers died.

He said two died on the spot, four died in the hospital, and 79 others sustained various degrees of injuries.

Sanwo-Olu described the accident as “totally avoidable.

He said the driver only needed to exercise a little patience and follow proper transportation protocol, which requires a driver to wait at a level crossing.

The governor sympathised with the injured workers and commiserated with the families of those who lost their loved ones.

Sanwo-Olu declared three days of mourning and suspended his political campaigns in honour of the victims.

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He also directed flags to be flown at half-mast throughout the period.

Declaring it “a trying period” for the state, Sanwo-Olu directed that all offices should close at noon today.

“Lagos is in a state of mourning and for the next three days, I am suspending all campaign activities.

“All flags will be flown at half-mast and tomorrow (today) all civil servants will work till noon before returning home to be with their loved ones during this trying time,” he said.

The governor added: “There were 85 passengers on board the bus and the accident claimed the lives of six workers.

“According to the LASUTH classification scale, there are 42 moderate, 29 serious and eight mild injuries.”

Sambo, in a statement signed by his media aide, Samuel Idiagbonya, commiserated with the families.

He ordered a detailed investigation of the train incident.

Commissioner for Transportation, Dr Frederic Oladeinde, said the accident was caused by the recklessness of the driver.

According to him, rather than wait when he was flagged down by the flag man, the driver ignored the warning and drove against the oncoming train.

He said the driver was in custody and would be interrogated once he is stabilised.

The commissioner wondered why the driver refused to obey the flagman when warned of the approach of the train.

Oladeinde said the Shogunle axis where the accident occurred was on the Red Line Rail corridor.

He said it was one of the spots for which an overpass was being constructed by the NRC.

When construction is completed, the level crossing would be cordoned off to traffic, he said.

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Troops repel terrorists’ attempt to attack INEC collation centre in Borno. neutralize 60





Hours after Governor Babagana Zulum cast his vote at the Ajari Ward polling unit 001 in Mafa Local government, over 60 terrorists suspected to belong to the ISWAP faction, attempted to infiltrate army base serving as collation center for the March 18 Governorship and State Assembly elections by troops of the Nigerian army, but they met their waterloo.

Available reports from military sources have it that the terrorists stormed Mafa town in gun trucks and motorcycles around 2:00am and headed towards the military base where Collation of votes for the local government was ongoing.

Troops of Operation Hadin Kai annihilated the terrorists following an aggressively executed counter-attack operation which was supported by air taskforce fighter jets dispatched to the scene which bombarded the fleeing terrorists, killing a huge number while few who managed to flee, left with fatal wounds.

A source confirmed that the bodies of 60 terrorists recovered were ridden with bullets. A Hilux vehicle, several weapons and ammunitions were also recovered from the fleeing terrorists.

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NDLEA intercepts heroin consignment at Lagos Airport, seizes 1.2m pills of Tramadol





No fewer than One Million Two Hundred and Five Thousand Two Hundred and Sixty (1, 205, 260) pills of opioids were seized in two interdiction operations in Kogi and Gombe state by operatives of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, just as anti-narcotic officers at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Ikeja Lagos disrupted the activities of a drug syndicate that operates between Nigeria, East Africa, and Europe, with the arrest of two members of the cartel.

Operatives at the Lagos airport had on Monday 13th March intercepted a member of the drug syndicate, Ejezie Vitus Ifeanyi, during screening of inward passengers on Ethiopian Airline flight from Malawi via Addis Ababa at the arrival hall.

When a search was conducted on him, it was discovered that one of his two bags has a false bottom concealment. During preliminary interview of the suspect, he confessed that a member of the syndicate was waiting at the airport carpark to pick him. An immediate follow up operation led to the arrest of Chukwu Franco Bright, who was waiting in a grey colour Mercedes Benz C180 coupe, marked EKY 973 GQ to receive the drug consignment.

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After his arrest, a proper search of the bag was conducted before the two suspects leading to the recovery of 3.00 kilograms of heroin. Findings reveal that the drug syndicate networks between Nigeria, and Malawi, Mozambique in East Africa and Europe. While Chukwu who lives in Lagos is responsible for the recruitment and coordination of the activities of mules on behalf of other members of the cartel based in Mozambique and Malawi, another set operates from the South-Eastern part of Nigeria.

Meanwhile, NDLEA operatives at the SAHCO export shed of the MMIA on Wednesday 15th March intercepted a jerrycan of palm oil going to Dubai, United Arab Emirates. At the point of examination, it was discovered that 600 grams of cannabis sativa were concealed inside the jerrycan of palm oil. A suspect, Tunde Ogunbowale who presented the consignment for export to Dubai was immediately arrested.

This is even as attempt to export 2.7kg cannabis packaged as part of dried onions to Dubai through a postal service firm was frustrated by NDLEA officers attached to the courier company, who seized a carton filled with colourful sachets of dried onions, used to conceal the illicit consignment.

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In Kogi state, a total of 530,160 pills of tramadol and 99,000 tabs of diazepam were seized along Okene-Abuja highway from a bus driver, Suleiman Oyedokun, 41, coming from Onitsha, Anambra state and going to Kontagora in Niger State on Monday 13th March. Same day, 576, 100 pills of tramadol concealed in bags of rubber slippers were intercepted by NDLEA officers at trailer garage, old mile 3 road area of Gombe metropolis, Akko LGA, Gombe State.

Four suspects: Usman Suleiman; Ya’u Yusuf; Saidu Suleiman and Abubakar Umar have so far been arrested in connection with the seizure.

In Kaduna, 367 kilograms of cannabis sativa were recovered from a vehicle with registration number FKJ141DX. Two suspects: Monday Suleiman, 62, and Sama’ila Mohammed, 30 were arrested while a bribe of One Million Two Hundred Thousand Naira (N1,200,000) offered NDLEA officers were documented as part of exhibits to prosecute the suspects.

Operatives in Delta state also on Wednesday 15th March arrested a local female distiller of cannabis sativa and dry gin, Ebi Akpotudua, 52, to produce a cocktail drink popularly known as monkey tail. She was arrested at Ugboroke by river road, Warri with 19.5 litres of monkey tail and 22.2kg cannabis.

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Chairman/Chief Executive Officers of NDLEA, Brig. Gen. Mohamed Buba Marwa (Retd) commended the officers and men of MMIA, DOGI, Kogi, Gombe, Kaduna, and Delta Commands for their professionalism and staying focused.

He charged them and their colleagues across the country to intensify the heat on drug cartels.



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Jobless man steals church chairs, water, remanded in prison





An Upper Area Court in Karu, Abuja, on Friday, remanded a job applicant, Shedrach Johnson, who pleaded guilty to stealing 100 pieces of plastic chairs.

The police charged Johnson with criminal trespass and theft.

The judge, Malam Hassan Mohammed, deferred the sentence and adjourned the case until March 24 for sentence.

Mohammed ordered that the convict be remanded in the Keffi Custodial Centre.

Earlier, the prosecution counsel, Mr Olarewaju Osho, told the court that the matter was reported by one Pastor Uche Eke of Gidan Daya, Orozo, Abuja.

Osho told the court that the convict criminally trespassed into the complainant’s church and stole 100 plastic chairs and three bottled water.

He said the convict was arrested with the help of security men on duty and three plastic chairs were recovered from him and a pack of bottled water.

Johnson pleaded guilty but begged for leniency.

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