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It’s miraculous we cheated death after two hours inside cab crushed by container –LASPOTECH student Walter
Three friends and a cab driver who survived a fallen tanker accident in Lagos on Sunday, September 19, 2021 recount the chilling experience in these interviews with TOPE OMOGBOLAGUN
What is your name and what do you do?
My name is Oghenetejiri Walter; I work as a marketing executive on the Island with an organisation that sells kitchen appliances.
You are one of the survivors of a fallen tanker accident at Ojuelegba in Lagos on Sunday, September 19. Can you narrate how it all happened?
On that day, we were all coming from school – Lagos State Polytechnic – and going to a food joint in Surulere. I was telling my friends that I hadn’t eaten ofada rice before and that I hoped my first time would be a nice experience. I was asking them, “What does it taste like?” I had been asking that question out of curiosity even before we got into the cab. So, when we were in the cab, my friend was showing me pictures of ofada rice and other dishes they sell at the restaurant. I rested on her while checking the things on her phone.
The articulated vehicle was behind us, so we never expected such a thing to happen. But all of a sudden, as if it was hand-picked from somewhere, we just saw the container falling on our cab. It came to us unexpectedly, perhaps if the truck was beside us, we would have told our driver to drive faster and move away quickly. But there was nothing we could do about it, not even our driver could save us, we were all helpless. But thank God that I was not sitting upright because if I was, perhaps, I would have been seriously injured.
When you saw the container coming down on your vehicle, did you make any attempt to jump out of the vehicle?
Running out of a moving vehicle could have been too risky for us, we couldn’t do anything. And it happened too suddenly. It was like the container came out of the blue. The only thing we did was just to shout Jesus. We kept shouting Jesus! Jesus! till the container fell on our vehicle.
I sat on the left side of the vehicle behind the driver. It was so scary that I couldn’t do anything. I saw the way the thing (container) was coming down, and all I could do was tilt backwards, as if wanting to dodge the container from falling on me; it was just a reflex action though. While I was doing that I kept shouting Jesus till the container fell on the car and we heard the sound of the fall and the crumbling of the vehicle. It sounded like a nylon being squeezed or egg shells being crumbled.
What happened after the container fell on you?
When the container fell on us, we were all trapped. We kept shouting help! help us! We were alive. So, we heard people saying, “They are alive. Hold on! Help is on the way.” My friend, Motunrayo, was saying, “T.J, is this how we are going to die?” I told her not to worry, to hold on that we would not die; that we would be rescued, seeing that people were already trying to get us help.
How were you able to breathe since you were trapped under the container?
Thankfully, we were able to breathe even while we were trapped. Although it was so dark under there, I was just touching my friends at first to know that they were alive. Nobody could recognise anybody. I was touching the drivers’ head, thinking it was my friend Austin’s head. It was when I was calling the name that the driver said he was the one. Then my friend responded. We could talk well at first. In fact, I could recall telling everyone not to move because the more we attempted to move, the more we would hurt our bones. I was resting on Motunrayo’s legs before the incident occurred, so she was trying to remove her leg. My neck was on her leg and as she was trying to remove her leg, I was choking.
Soon, it became difficult for us to breathe as air wasn’t really coming in. I remember telling others that we should open our mouths, so that air could come in. Later, we all started gasping for breath. We could not breathe. God did a wonder; that’s all I can say. It was God.
Did you at any point think that you were going to die?
By the time the container was eventually removed, I was already tired. I could no longer breathe well. Just before then, I had concluded that I had held on for long enough and was tired. My hands dropped like I was surrendering at that point, then in like two seconds, I came alive again. Even my friend Motunrayo was also going. At some point, she couldn’t even respond again while we called her name. So, when Austin was calling, I would hold her hand and shake her. But Austin kept calling our names at intervals to ensure that we were fine.
What kept you going in the middle of those moments?
It was God, because every time I felt like I was giving up, it looked like someone did a cardiopulmonary resuscitation on me and I came back to life. Also, the people that were around while we were stuck under the container were very helpful. They kept hitting the container as if trying to break the container while the emergency service of the government had yet arrived. It gave me hope that people were there and were trying to help us. I am grateful to God for that person that kept hitting the container.
Did you sustain any injury?
No. I didn’t even have a scratch, just a little bit of body pains. In fact, that has been the most amazing part of our testimony that despite all of that, none of us sustained any serious injury or fracture. The highest was just a minor cut on the hand. Before we were removed, I could no longer feel anything in the right part of my body. In fact, I was trying to close my palm but I couldn’t. I was scared that the right part of my body was gone but the moment the container was removed, I was relieved. I felt very good. Despite the fact that the car was crushed so badly, we are alive and more so, we came out without fractures and wounds.
How would you describe your survival?
This is more than a miracle. For each and every one of us that were trapped in that vehicle, our testimony is more than a miracle. Neither us nor the people that were there could actually explain or comprehend what exactly happened to us. It is more than a miracle because the word miracle is too common these days. It is more than a miracle and we are just grateful to God. God shielded us; in fact, I would say God was there with us in the vehicle because how does anyone explain this, that we were all intact despite the magnitude of the incident? When we came out, I was just crying because no one could believe that we were in that crushed car.
What effect does the whole experience have on you?
It was a very traumatising experience. I am yet to recover from the effect. At one point, I was crying when my friend was no longer talking. I was just crying and begging her to talk to me. I don’t pray that my enemy go through what we went through that night. No human deserves to go through any of that. We merely escaped by the grace of God because I wouldn’t even say that we are so faithful in our service to God.
How did your relatives find out about the incident?
My boss called me that Sunday evening while we were stuck under the container. I couldn’t pick. But I dialed back his number with my left hand and told him that I was involved in an accident and currently stuck under a fallen container at Ojuelegba. He was like, “How can you make a call while involved in an accident?” But I kept telling him that I wasn’t joking that I was currently involved in an accident. I was just shouting, ‘Start coming.’ He lives in Irawo just before Ikorodu. Immediately after the call, my phone fell from my hand, so I couldn’t bend down to pick the phone anymore even when the phone was vibrating just beside my legs. When I later got my phone, I saw like 30 missed calls. That means that after my call with him ended, he must have called my family members to inform them.
Do you still have flashes from the incident?
Yes. I have not totally got over the shock. Once I close my eyes, the images of the incident still play in my head. I would literally see the container falling on my head. I will open my eyes with fear all over my face. It’s the people around me that have been talking me out of it; telling me to calm down, “You’re home in your room.” It’s such a terrible experience. I have always heard about this trailer and container falling on people, but experiencing it is so different for me. I have never thought that I could be caught in such a web.
Were you given proper medical attention?
Yes. We were taken to the hospital. I was given some drips. They did an X-ray to check if I had any bone issue and after the X-ray showed that I was fine, the hospital also checked for internal injury but there was none; so, I was discharged alongside others.
Who paid the hospital bill?
My elder brother did. They are yet to find the owner of the truck.
We haven’t got over shock, still have traumatic flashes – Augustine, Motunrayo
What is your name and relationship with others involved in the accident?
My name is Augustine Egwu. The two ladies are my friends while the other man is the driver of the cab we ordered.
Can you remember what happened?
I can’t really remember a lot of things because I am still trying to get over the shock. What I remembered was that I heard a loud noise from behind, a container fell on the vehicle and we were trapped there for a while.
What was going on in your mind in the middle of that episode?
I can only give thanks to God that I was alive to witness all of what was happening.
When you heard that sound, what came to your mind?
When I heard the sound from behind, I thought it was a danfo (a commercial yellow bus) that hit us only to see a container falling on us from the left side of the car. At that moment, all I was shouting was Jesus till the container finally fell on us.
What happened thereafter?
The people there tried their best to bring us out but they couldn’t do anything until the emergency service came about two hours later. The incident happened around 6.30pm-7pm. We were trapped under the container till about 9pm-9.30pm when we were removed from under the container.
Will you say you have got over the trauma?
I won’t say yes, neither will I say no. I just know that I still experience flashes. I also try not to remember the incidents to avoid the shock. It was a troubling experience.
Did you sustain any injury?
I had just a mild cut on my hand. An X-ray was carried out on the four of us and funnily enough, there was no fracture or dislocation whatsoever.
What is your name and how do you feel?
My name is Motunrayo Ajetunmobi and I am getting better.
Have you fully recovered from the incident?
No. I am still in shock and a bit too weak but I am so grateful to God. Only God could have done this. I am grateful. There is no internal bleeding, just that I am weak and can’t walk well. I am still a bit overwhelmed by the events and the calls from people. So, I am still very weak. Austin can speak for us and narrate what happened. I am just grateful that I could survive such a terrible incident.
Doctor was amazed I had no fracture, ordered second X-ray – Cab driver
What is your name and what do you do?
My name is Tunde Adio. I work with the Lagos State Government under Alimosho Local Government Education Authority.
What was your relationship with other passengers in the vehicle?
I also work as a cab driver with one of the ride-hailing services. On that eventful day, the other three people in the car ordered the ride on Bolt. I picked them up from LASPOTECH gate, Ikorodu and we were headed to Surulere before we got involved in that accident at Ojuelegba.
When did the incident happen?
The incident happened on Sunday evening. I was just driving and all of a sudden, I saw a truck with a container that was landing on the car that I was driving. The incident happened around Ojuelegba going towards Stadium Road. There was no pothole or anything, it came as a surprise to all of us.
How did you get out of the vehicle?
From the picture I saw it was a long container. While we were trapped under the vehicle, we just kept hearing people’s voices calling us to know if we were alive. We were shouting back that we were alive and trapped there but they couldn’t do anything other than stay around till state emergency responders came and the container was removed.
For how long were you trapped in the crumbled cab before the container was removed?
I can’t say precisely but I know we were under the container for not less than two hours.
Were you still conscious by the time the container was removed?
Yes. I was weak but not totally unconscious of the events that happened around me. I was the first person that was helped out of the vehicle. When they removed the container, I raised up my hand faintly to show that I was still alive.
When were you discharged from the hospital?
I was discharged the next day, which was on Monday. I was discharged after they carried out an X-ray on me and found out that nothing was damaged in my body. The doctor had to run another X-ray on me to be sure that I was fine because he couldn’t believe that one could survive that kind of an accident without injuries.
Are you having any pain?
I am much better now but I still feel some pain around my neck. I am just experiencing some pains on my shoulders and neck but since the X-rays have certified me okay, I believe that the pain would subside over time. I am getting better generally. I am still on a neck guard though to ease the pain.
Are there talks about fixing the vehicle for you?
I am not sure the vehicle can still be fixed. But for now, I am not having any of such conversations. The police are yet to see anyone show up as the owner of the truck. This is according to the feedback I got from my brother. I haven’t been strong enough to start the running around to the police station, but my brother has been giving me feedback. The case was reported at the Ojuelegba police station.
The car is my means of livelihood, I have a lot of people dependent on me. I have two children, aged parents and even siblings to cater for.
I have been blackmailed, vilified despite my effort – Gov Ortom reels out achievements [INTERVIEW]
After a project tour of Makurdi, Gboko, Otukpo and other communities in Benue State, DAILY POST Managing Editor, Ali Adoyi engaged His Excellency, Governor Samuel Ortom in an exclusive interview on the success of his administration, especially in the areas of security, infrastructure, workers’ salary and sundry issues.
In this interview, the Benue Governor takes our editor on a voyage of his administration’s success story, his challenges and other obstacles militating against his transformation agenda for the State. According to the People’s Governor, despite those daunting challenges, the State has recorded tremendous progress especially in the area of security and infrastructure, an indication that no, ‘’challenge is insurmountable once there is the will.’’
According to Ortom, his people (Benue) must stay alive to enjoy the effort of his administration in the area of infrastructure; the reason he has sacrificed so much in trying to secure them against all forms of incursion by suspected herdsmen and other criminal elements.
DAILY POST in the tour visited the Aper Aku Road in Gboko, the brand new Tor Tiv Palace, the reconstructed Aper Aku Lodge, Government House in Makurdi, Armstrong Road in Otukpo, Awaji rural electrification project in Konshisha LG, some government Secondary schools and LGEA primary schools, the State Primary Health Care Complex in Makurdi, the reconstructed Fire Service, the Bengis Complex, Isaac Shahu Road in Gboko, Prof. Matin Dent Road, Gboko, Capt. Down’s Way, Gboko, Bridge on Ahmedu Bello Way, Gboko, over 300 capacity block for inmates in Makurdi, the Ochi’Idoma Place, BIPC Housing Estate, orphanage buildings, LGEA Primary School, Igede, the Benue Television Complex, new Deputy Gov’s office, BENCEDI, Office complex of the State Governor, Bridge on River Guma, High Court Complex, Gbeji-Afia Zaki-Biam Road, Mobile Barracks Welfare Quarters Road, Makurdi, Sen. Gabrial Suswan Road, Makurdi, Oshigbudu-Obagaji Road and others.
DAILY POST also revisited the Gbajimba Road that was under construction in 2018 when the organization visited for an inspection.
Que: I was in Otukpo, Gboko, some parts of Markudi and other communities, and I saw wonderful projects amid the challenges posed by COVID-19, insecurity and paucity of funds. How were you able to achieve all that we saw?
Gov. Ortom: Well, I would say that it’s just our determination and then, I really want to appreciate God for the wisdom to handle the scarce resources and to make an impact in the sands of time. I’m grateful. Commitment also played a major role. I know it’s an extra duty for me to ensure that every single kobo that comes into the purse of government; that gets into the single treasury account is appropriated rightly. There are challenges, no doubt. I still have the problem of pension, gratuity, and all that and even salaries being owed in arrears. Of course, this is what I inherited. When I came in, it was still there because of the scarcity of funds – just as you said, the recession we had in 2016 orchestrated by the fuel and oil crisis led to a huge drawback and also in 2020, we had the COVID-19 setback. So every single step we had taken is to ensure that we address these challenges whether salaries, pensions and gratuity and then the infrastructure because Benue State is an agricultural state and we need the people to be connected. We need some basic things that the people need in order to support them to live well. So health facilities in all our communities are also our priority. We are working towards connecting them with good roads so that they can be motorable throughout the year. We want to ensure that our schools, especially the primary schools that were abandoned are fixed. This government believes that the primary, secondary and tertiary schools should measure up to the standard. The tertiary schools should be very strong but the secondary schools should be stronger. The primary schools must be the strongest because that is the foundation of every child. So if you get it right at the primary school, then you have no problem. We have been able to impact on the primary schools as over N20 billion has been expended in collaboration with the UBEC and we have marshalled all the allocation to UBEC. We have also handed money from the state government to support the schools. So this is ongoing, so we appreciate the impact from our secondary and tertiary and primary schools. At a time, the Benue State University were on strike and we were able to settle with them and since then, they have not gone on strike and we are now paying them faithfully. We are not owing the University as we were able to fulfil our obligations. So what we are saying is that this depends on our determination and commitment to ensure we put something on the ground. In the case of the arrears of pension and gratuity, we have also taken a step back by introducing PENCOM law. We have already been able to invest up to 1.3 billion Naira. Government is paying 10 percent of the staff’s salary and the staff themselves contribute 8 percent. So this administration has found a permanent way of resolving this matter of pension and gratuity and in paying salaries. Because once we have enough money paid into the pension account, we can always find a way of borrowing and paying back. Since 2018, I have been able to pay all salaries of staff. It was recently we were starting to have some problem because of the shortfall we are receiving. We have arrears, but the impression being created that Ortom doesn’t pay salaries is not true. These are lies from the pit of hell. They are not true and the impression being created that there is no single project is false. These are from enemies, from the opposition going round to play down our achievements. Thank God you have gone round and you have seen things for yourself. That is the whole thing.
Que: Let’s talk about the Tor Tiv and the Och’ Idoma palaces. What inspired the projects? Many past leaders never thought of the project.
Gov. Ortom: Just like I said, it’s God’s wisdom and determination to execute what He directed us to do. As for the past leaders, I think it was an oversight. For me, the Tor Tiv palace is a symbol of the Tiv nation, the Och’ Idoma’s palace is a symbol of the entire Idoma nation. Whether you are from Europe, America or Asia, you should be proud that you belong to one of these ethnic nationalities in Benue State. So it should be a befitting place. It’s a reflection of what the people have. I believe that in no distant time, looking at what you saw when you came in 2016 in Tor Tiv’s palace and then in Och’Idoma’s palace and what it is now, I believe that by the grace of God, God is just trying to tell us that moving forward, we are laying a good foundation that will give befitting status to either Tiv or Idoma people. I remember before the commissioning of Tor Tiv’s palace, the Tor Tiv his majesty was very-very happy. I could read it on his face. I could see it around him. He could dance. This is a new beginning for the Tiv nation. And eventually, when we went to do the groundbreaking ceremony in the Och’Idoma’s palace, he was there and he was really excited. He came out in his full self and was excited. Everybody is connected to the palace of the Och’ Idoma or the Tor Tiv, whether Idoma or Tiv. I believe that what God has inspired us to do will go a long way in giving new faces to these two ethnic nationalities.
Que: People say your biggest achievement has been in the area of security; how were you able to do what you have done so far?
Gov. Ortom: About this again, I appreciate God, otherwise, I have been intimidated, I have been vilified, blackmailed and several other things. I mean well for our country Nigeria. I believe in Nigeria and that is why you see me carrying the colours of Nigeria and the colours of major ethnic nationalities in Benue State; the Tiv, Idoma, Egede and then the Nigerian flag. So I believe in Nigeria. United we stand and divided we fall. Our strength is in our unity in diversity. And I believe that our people should work together. But one thing that beholds on us is that I took the oath of office holding the bible, the president took the oath of office holding the Quran and so my understanding about the symbol of holding the bible or the Quran is that we will always say the truth. We will always protect the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. This is what I stand for. We will always fight for equity, fairness and justice. This is what we should stand for and so I’m surprised that when I say things that can add value, things that can transform this country and make it better, people take offence against me and vilify me, they insult me, they say all kinds of things against me. The federal government has refused to help me in terms of ensuring that we clear the arrears of pension and gratuity which I inherited. It wasn’t my fault. Aper Aku had arrears of salaries and gratuity, Akume had, Adasu had, Suswan had and I also have. I also inherited it. 70 billion arrears of pensions, salaries and gratuity. It is not a new thing. The federal government gave me N28 billion and I appropriated it and unfortunately, it was not enough. Other people have been given more, but the federal government, because of my stance in saying the truth, they have refused to give me support. People came to me and say if you move to APC, we will support you and I said I cannot sell my people out like others are doing today, I can’t sell my people, I remain committed with the people. They elected me, their pain should be my pains and for whatever reasons with the number of people we have here, if you send them away from their ancestral land and take over, where do you want them to go?
Now, we had a population of less than N40 million in the 50s. Today in Nigeria we have over 200 million people, so those places that people can go and farm and do other things are no more there. So for me, I remain committed to the service of my people. Like I keep saying, the insecurity now is no longer just in Benue State, it is all over the country and if the president wants this problem to finish, it will end, and the day the presidency wants insecurity to finish in Nigeria, everybody will be happy. They have the capacity, they have demonstrated it in the south-east, they have demonstrated it in the south-west and they are demonstrating it right now as I am talking to you in Zamfara, Katsina and all that. My point is why is it that these Fulanis that are coming here can’t be stopped? They are not even Nigerians, yet there are Nigerians Fulanis. They are coming from Mali and Niger and they are not hiding it. They say it. Most of them that are arrested here speak French, they cannot speak Hausa or Fulfide and so it is a matter of the government deciding that ‘look, we must stop this.’ But it is clear to me now and that is why I said that the body language of the current presidency is that they are happy with what is happening. They stopped IPOB in the Southeast, and branded them, terrorists. If I were to evaluate what was happening in the Southeast and the Southwest, what the Fulanis are doing here is worse. The weapons they have are more than what they have in the southeast and southwest. I don’t support all those secessionist agitations by those individuals. I don’t support it, but the truth is that we should ensure equity and fairness. We should ensure justice for all. What is good for the goose is good for the gander. So why are we separating other people as if they are slaves? And then you bring Fulani from outside to come and terrorize your country and you allow them? The president himself accepted that these ones that are terrorizing us are not Nigerians. So why are you allowing them? Why have they refused to brand them as terrorists? Why have they refused to ban them? Why have they encouraged Miyetti Allah to be killing our people? Even as I talk to you, most of our places here in Benue are under their occupation; when the farmers go there, they kill them. We have over 1.5 million IDPs and then you want me to keep quiet as a leader? I am not against Fulani people. President Shehu Shagari was president of this country and nobody in this land ever said anything against anybody. He was fair and ensured justice and equity; so everybody was happy. Here, we had several appointments under him. President Yar’Adua; when he came, he was the president of Nigeria and listened to everybody. But this one that the presidency is doing, will make him look like he is the president for Fulani. That is the whole thing because they are committing more atrocities and they cannot be dealt with. You know that more than 100 security men have lost their lives because the weapons that these people use are superior to even what our security men are using. No adequate funding and all that. Here we are struggling to pay salaries and we have to try to support them. Now, it is limited and that is the truth. The military, police, civil defence, DSS, and others need additional support. But when they said we should not talk, I don’t understand what that is as this is democracy. I am not against any Fulani man but I am against impunity and lawlessness. Here our law prohibiting open grazing allows everybody, Fulanis, Hausa, Igbo and all that do legitimate business. Here we don’t have religious issues. Here in Benue State, people are free but when you want to impose religion on us, we say no. I can’t allow Christianity to be imposed on Muslims and I don’t want Islam to be imposed on Christians or pagans. Here, everybody is free. This is a democracy, freedom of speech, freedom of association, freedom of expression is what I stand for. And that is all, and if the presidency decides that it will do the right thing, everybody will be happy.
Que: On the VAT controversy, what is your position?
Gov. Ortom: I am somebody who believes in the rule of law and due process. The matter is already in court and whatever the decision of the court, is what I will do. I know that here, I don’t have businesses and it wouldn’t favour me, but we have to work hard. It may be something that will help us. You know it is said that ‘necessity and challenges are the mothers of invention.’ So once we know that the kind of money we get from Abuja will not be enough to take care of some basic things, we have to devise other ways. I understand it will affect us if that happens, but I want to leave that to the judiciary. Once they come out with a verdict, we have no choice. I’m happy that my colleagues from Rivers and Lagos States have taken to pursue it legally and it should be everybody’s right instead of being lawless. Instead of fighting to do the things that will bring anarchy and all that, you go to the law court and once they take a decision, you accept it the way it is. So whichever way it goes, it’s fine. I’m not against VAT collection but honestly, people who will collect VAT should use it. The whole thing should be localized; which is okay.
Que: Any final words:
Gov. Ortom: I will say it’s well. God will help us. All these things they are doing; the day of reckoning is coming. I can assure you. All these injustices; all the things that I have suffered on behalf of my people; the day of reckoning will come for all these blackmailers who have come out now to cause confusion in Benue State. The same people had benefited immensely from our people who voted them, but they are now turning our state into IDPs camps. God will judge us. And because they want to be National Chairman, they want to remain as Ministers, they do press conferences, they insult the people and walk on their graves and across their dead bodies. The day of reckoning is coming. Watch my words! I serve the living God.
Open Grazing: Uzodinma embarrassed us with his comments – PDP scribe blasts Imo Gov
The Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Imo State and former member of the state House of Assembly, Nze Ray Emeana has lambasted Governor Hope Uzodimma for saying there is no law in Imo State banning open grazing.
Emeana in this interview with DAILY POST said it was most embarrassing and shameful for Uzodinma to say there is no anti-grazing law in Imo State when there is one.
The former university teacher said, come 2023 governorship position must come back to the Owerri zone adding that it is not negotiable.
”No amount of intimidation, harassment and arrest will stop it. Owerri zone will rise strongly, determined, united and wrestle power from this failed administration like never before, he averred.
The PDP scribe also gave his assessment of the ruling APC administration in Imo State among other burning issues.
DAILY POST: How do you see the statement of Imo State Governor, Senator Hope Uzodinma declaring that there is no anti-grazing law in the state?
EMEANA: It is unfortunate because I won’t say that the governor lied but I think this is the highest display of ignorance of law governing the state where Uzodinma is the governor. It also shows the kind of government that exists in the state. I would have thought that the governor was misquoted but having seen the video myself. I feel the Attorney General of Imo State by now would have come out clearly to correct the governor and guide him and Imo people appropriately.
It is most unfortunate that we have a system where there is no thought process, no engagement on the system of government in place of the key critical stakeholders and other arms and parts of government before a pronouncement of this magnitude is made. For the avoidance of doubt you know that the South Governors met and agreed to ban open grazing in the whole of the South and for our governor to come out open and absent Imo State from that agreement makes us a parallel state among committees of South States, even Northern states have come to say open grazing is outdated that the only way to go is ranching. The security crises we have in Imo State today, we can not go far without attributing it majorly to open grazing of cattle.
For the avoidance of doubts, Imo State Law No.9,2006 signed by Chief Achike Udenwa, former Governor of Imo State on 19th January 2007 made it very clear and the Law is called a Law to prohibit the grazing of cattle in restricted areas in Imo State and matter related thereto.
The law made it very clear that rearing of cattle means breeding of cows and others, taking cattle out on streets, and taking cattle out for grazing in Owerri Capital Territory within 5km radius measured from Douglas Road post office, Owerri and every part of Imo State is hereby prohibited.
A cattle rearer can not take his cattle into cultivated land within Imo State. Anybody who contravenes section 3 and some of these laws is guilty of an offence liable to a fine of N50,000.00. In the case of section 4, they will pay compensation to the crop owner to cover the total cost of crops destroyed by the cattle in addition to a fine which may be proscribed by the magistrate court.
This is completely clear and unambiguous. It shows that this grazing thing is not new. You and I know that this has been pervading in this state for many years back and to solve all these problems Imo State House of Assembly in 2006 passed this bill into law and it was assented by the governor of the state.
For a sitting governor of the state to wake up and say there is no such anti-grazing law beats my imagination and that of every right-thinking person. It is most embarrassing to say no anti-grazing law in Imo State.
It is most embarrassing that our governor on national television says there is no anti-grazing law when there is one in Imo State. He went further to say there is an agreement between the farmers and herders, so where is the agreement and with which farmers? Our people will take time to plant cassava, corn and yam, people will come with their hungry cows enter into their farms, ravage their crops and kill the plants and the owners of the crops goes home with nothing and the governor does not consider it a responsibility to protect the owners of the crops. It is most embarrassing where we find ourselves in the state.
Even the 1999 Constitution clearly gave the control of pests and animals as the responsibility of the Local Government. It is in the Nigeria Constitution that the Local Government should control the movement of pests and animals. This is why in a local government system there is a department called animal handlers. Their duty is to go from village to village and get animals that wander into other people’s farms. It is a fundamental function guaranteed by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
DAILY POST: what is your assessment of the current administration of the ruling All Progressive Congress, APC in Imo State.?
EMEANA: People can hardly have three square meals in Imo State today. We can’t even go home again once it rains. Owerri zone as a hub of entertainment and tourism can not even function because by the time it is 6pm everybody will start running home. Many people have lost their jobs especially those in the hotel or hospitality business. Even eateries where young men and women are employed have all sacked their staff because the patronage is no longer there and they can not pay staff salary.
Uzodinma is almost 2years in office what can he show for it? Is it in the healthcare sector, is there any person in this state that go to government hospitals apart from Federal Medical Center? In the area of Agriculture, is there any striving farm? Look at Nekede zoo, the road has been cut off, completely unaccessible and people living around Old Nekede can not go home. We have a similar situation at MCC Road. Look at the heaps of refuse on our roads. We are even lucky there is no epidemic in the state today.
Look at the rate of burial happening every Thursday and Friday in our state what do you think is even responsible for it? When there are heaps of refuse in all parts of the state, no hospitals and people are not been paid salaries, pensioners are there dying without being paid. Which critical aspect of our lives is functional today and Uzodinma says it doesn’t matter why should we break our heads?
DAILY POST: Let’s talk about the zoning of governorship position in Imo, do you think Owerri zone indigene deserves a slot come 2023 or Uzodinma should be allowed to complete his 2nd term in office?
EMEANA: I attended a conference in Lagos organized by Ripples Nigeria two days ago where the governor of Delta State, Ifeanyi Okowa was the chairman of the event. The governor in his opening speech said Delta State has been consistent with its zoning arrangement. The zoning of governorship rotates among the three geopolitical zones and was unequivocal that after him governorship will move to the next zone. If you go to EnuguState, zoning is almost sacrosanct. You are aware that in Anambra State, one of the reasons why many did not get the ticket is because the people insisted on zoning. You go to Abia State it is the same story. Governorship rotates among three senatorial zones.
We are here shouting that we are being marginalised by the Hausas and Yorubas and yet by 2023 a particular zone or section in Imo State would have ruled the state for 24years. This zone called the Orlu zone became governor through the instrumentality of the Owerri zone that insisted that governorship should be rotated among the three zones in Imo State. It was ID Nworgu when he was the Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP and other leaders of Imo State that insisted that Sam Mbakwe had gone, Owerri had gone even though it was 18months, it has tested it, let it go to Orlu. After Orlu it will come back to Okigwe and back to Owerri. It got to Orlu and they have held it hostage. Is that fair, equitable and justifiably? Where are our consciences as a people in Imo State? Today in Imo State all the institutions of governance be it in education etc are all from the Orlu zone particularly Oru East, nobody cares about equity, fairness yet the Nigerian constitution provides for Federal Character. The shame of all these is that some of our brothers from Owerri zone because of a pot of porridge and crumbs that fall off the table have sold their conscience to the devil and they are busy saying it doesn’t matter. I want to tell you let them continue to be slaves to Orlu people, let their children and grandchildren continue to be slaves. I will not be and my children will not but come 2023 governorship must come back to the Owerri zone.
It is not negotiable and no amount of intimidation, embarrassment and harassment will stop it. Owerri zone will rise strongly, determined, united and wrestle power like never before. We are committed to it. Forget the fact that for every twelve there is a Judas like those sons and daughters of Owerri zone who are supporting Orlu to rule them forever. These are people without any roots. They have no followers. They always lose elections even in their booths and they know that if things are well done they will lose their livelihood which is likely illegitimate that is why they find it convenient to sell their conscience.
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