The residents of Rikkos in Plateau State have been carrying out their normal businesses including teaching, farming and other menial labour without hinderance? or fear of any disaster lurking around the corner.
However, the quiet community apart from living with the threat of insecurity? plaguing several parts of the state, as they struggle to sustain their daily lives met with an unprecedented environmental disaster last month when a heavy downpour swept away many of the inhabitants resulting in the death of no fewer than 35 people including children.?
Apart from the human casualties recorded, properties worth millions of naira were swept away in the ensuing deluge.?
According to a survivor, Mr. Abdulhameed Hussaini, seven of his nine children were swept away by the flood. He explained: “the corpses of six of my children were discovered in the morning while the seventh child’s corpse is yet to be found”.
While appealing for government assistance to enable him rehabilitate his surviving family members, Hussaini? recounted that the incident occurred in the night when they were all asleep and could hardly be rescued from the flood which came with deafening force and submerged the entire building.
“I have lost six of my children, four girls and two boys, the eldest being 13 and the youngest being 90 days old. I am now left with only two surviving children, a girl of 17 and a boy of 2 years”.
Another victim, Indo Alhamdullilahi recounted her ordeal thus: “I was asleep when my husband woke me up and I saw water flowing into and taking over our compound, including all our rooms. We went into the room to carry the young boys, but we couldn’t because the wall had already collapsed. When our husband tried to enter he discovered that the flood had gone with them”, she concluded.
Hussaini and Alhamdullilahi’s predicament is similar to those of hundreds of other persons displaced by flooding in states such as Jigawa, Cross River, Kebbi, Kogi, Sokoto, Niger, Katsina and Sokoto.
Reacting to the flooding in the State, the Governor, Jonah David Jang said in a statement signed by the commissioner for information and communication, Pastor Yiljap Abraham, that the government was saddened by the unexpected natural phenomenon that brought grief to the people in its wake.
He stressed that the government had directed the State Relief Committee to step in with immediate effect and provide relief for the surviving victims while urging citizens to pray against any situation that might bring further pain and discomfort on the people.
On his part, the director, relief and rehabilitation of NEMA, Mr. Edward Maigida said that 50 people were still missing and that the search teams were still on site to recover more victims. He noted that the exact number of displaced persons was unknown but were still being registered in the camps where they would be provided with relief materials.
According to him, “we are going to sit with relevant government MDAs, because anything that has to do with flooding means that so many things? are wrong, especially town planning and so on. If we must address this, we must sit together and take a holistic look at all those factors that lead to flooding in the area”.
At the wake of such disaster, the residents of the affected communities who hardly construct drainage systems but choose to build on the designated sewage lines, bear the brunt alone.
Brief About NIMET, FME Mandate
It is worthy of note that the Nigeria Metrological Agency (NIMET) was established by Act no. 9 of 2003 and saddled with the responsibility of? providing weather, climatic and water information for sustainable development and safety among others.
On the other hand, the Federal Ministry of Environment (FME) is mandated to prepare a comprehensive National Policy for the protection of the environment and conservation of natural resources, including procedure for environmental impact assessment(EIA) of all developing projects, among others.
Apart from the federal laws, each state have enacted their own laws in a bid to fashion out ways of regulating environmental hazards especially in areas prone to flooding. The pertinent question however, is whether the laws have actually been enforced to guard against environmental hazards?
Most times, floods paralyse economic activities in the affected states and had resulted to the collapse of bridges, destruction of roads, houses, infrastructures and farmlands.
Every Nigerian is vulnerable to disaster whether man-made or natural disaster and every rainy season come with such disaster.
For instance, when such flooding occurs in Lagos state, the area boys use the opportunity to make quick money since the desperate residents would prefer to be carried across than wade through? the dirty flood water.
Flooding Claims Life In Lagos
In June, 2012, a 17-year-old apprentice, Abraham was carried away by flood waters in Mafoluku area of Oshodi at about 6:30am when he was salvaging some planks he had gathered beside Sadiku canal in the area.
A resident of the area, who identified herself as Lara, admitted that Abraham gathered the planks in order to sell them off the next day but met his untimely death while trying to pull out the plank from the swift flowing flood water.
According to her: “he struggled with the flood waters and raised his hands. I also tried to save him but I missed his hand”.
More Casualties Recorded in Ibadan Flooding
Another torrential downpour submerged some houses leading to the death of five people. Many living on the river banks also abandoned their homes to avoid being drowned in the flood which caused the river to overflow its banks.
It was learnt that the Iyiola family members searched fruitlessly for two of their children and their three friends, including two policemen from the Special Anti Robbery Squad who were on leave.?
The family members had earlier warned Sukanmi and Wole Iyiola not to go out to the club because of the rain but their pleas fell on deaf ears.
According to the Iyiola family, “the sixth person that would have gone with them reportedly changed his mind and said he would go in his own car. About an hour later, we became suspicious that something tragic had happened and we made calls to their phones and got no response. When the sixth person visited the 411 Club that they said they were going to, he did not find them.
We searched everywhere without their traces and we reported to the police who swung into action searching all the nooks and crannies for them.
3 Die In Cross River Flood
Last week, three persons were drowned in a similar flood that ravaged the Agwagune community in Biase Local government area of Cross River state.
The corpses of the victims aged between 12 and 55 years could not be recovered by the local divers in their frantic search that lasted for four days.
Drama At Environment Ministry
As LEADERSHIP SUNDAY visited the Ministry of Environment office at Mabushi – Abuja, she was referred to one Mr. Osunkoya, a director in charge of Erosion at the Ministry’s office in Maitama.
When the reporter put a call through to Osunkoyo, he said that he would be attending official meeting but referred the reporter to Mrs. Oyeleke, another senior staff.
At the ministry’s office in Maitama, the said Mrs. Oyeleke said: “I cannot talk to you except if I obtained permission from upstairs.
Another call was put to Osunkoyo informing him about Oyeleke’s refusal to comment on the issue but himself too claimed: “I am a civil servant and cannot attend to you without obtaining permission from the permanent secretary who incidentally is in a meeting and he is not picking my calls.
NIMET Insists 10 Govs Must Learn About Flood Before Media
At the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NIMET) office in Maitama, the reporters were told that the Director- General of the agency, Dr. Anthony Anuforom was not on seat due to his tight schedule but was referred to the DG’s office to speak with his Personal Assistant, Mr. Joe Alozie.
The PA however, pleaded with the reporters to return the next week (Wednesday) since they were gathering some documents to that effect.
However, when the reporter put a call through to Alozie, he said, “The DG wants to go beyond what you are requesting for and he intends to organise Press conference where LEADERSHIP will be invited and we want to do it as soon as possible.
“He cannot speak to you separately at this moment about this issue. I have told you that this particular report will be sent to 10 governors direct and we cannot send to you what we intend sending to the governors. We don’t want them to read it in the media before getting the information.