Last weekend’s floods in Zuba, Gwagwalada Area Council of the FCT, and Suleja in Niger State left many residents wriggling in pain and lamentation.
While the Zuba flood claimed a woman and her four children in Giri community, Daily Trust Saturday gathered that the death toll in Suleja has risen to 24.
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Relations and neighbors of the victims who spoke to reporters in Zuba expressed shock and sadness.
They said the woman, whose apartment was close to the waterways died with her four children after the heavy flood submerged the apartment and other houses.
They said before a rescue could come, the flood had already swept them away.
A neighbor, Mrs. Grace Uche, said the deceased who had lived in the apartment for over a year after separating from her husband, was always jovial with neighbors.
“I didn’t know that the woman had separated from her husband until that day the incident happened, after which the Ebira chief came to the scene and I overheard some of her kinsmen discussing it,” she said.
Neighbors of the other two persons who died in Anguwar Paka Zuba said they were sleeping when the flood suddenly submerged the house and swept them away.
A neighbor, Ibrahim Aliyu, said the parents of the children had travelled to the eastern part of the country before the incident.
The village head of Kaura Quarters, Mr. Bako Ndazhaga, said contrary to reports that 30 people were missing, four people were missing while one death was officially recorded there. He said those missing and the dead were from the same family.
Bako said one person was found dead while the other four including a woman and her three children were missing while expressing fears on their survival.
Another resident of the area, Mr. Simon Baba, said the rain forced the resident to stay indoors, and the flood submerged the Gwagwalada Bridge and a hotel and destroyed properties.
Another resident, Ibrahim Shaibu, said the flood which started around 2am on Saturday took over a petrol station and swept away a truck loaded with petrol.
Daily Trust Saturday gathered that it also pulled down other buildings including a petrol station in Anguwar Abattoir.
The village head of Dagiri, another affected area, Alhaji Saidu Muhammad Ndako, said many houses close to the river bank were destroyed.
The chairman of the council, Alhaji Adamu Mustapha, who visited some of the affected areas, urged community leaders to make arrangements to get people out of flood-prone areas.
“We at the local government level will do our best to provide urgent palliatives because the incident has created havoc,” he said.
Minister orders removal of houses on waterways
Reacting to the incident, the Minister of State for FCT, Hajiya Ramatu Tijjani Aliyu, ordered the management of the FCT Development Control department to remove houses on waterways across the council.
Speaking when she visited some of the affected areas on Wednesday, she said the flood was a result of building houses on waterways.
She donated relief items to the chairman of the council, Alhaji Adamu Mustapha, for distribution to the victims.
The Director-General, Federal Capital Territory Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Alhaji Idriss Abbas, said: “Gwagwalada was flooded from Giri. A family of five was affected at Giri.
“We rescued six people and they are in hospital. The flood has damaged a lot of houses and property, especially at Gwagwalada,” he said.
Victims at the mercy of relatives, neighbors in Suleja
People affected by the flood in Suleja have turned to relatives and neighbors for temporal shelter, just as the death toll is reported to have reached 24, according to our reporter.
It was gathered that 10 people are yet to be found after the heavy flood swept the area Saturday following an early morning rainfall.
Unguwar Gwari, a community under Rafin-Sanyi District on the outskirts of the town was reported to be the worst hit, with the loss of seven persons, including five from a single-family.
At Rafin-Sanyi community, 10 people were reported to have died. Our reporter on Thursday went around Unguwar Sunday, Polosa and Unity wards, all within Rafin-Sanyi community
A resident, Sunday Nnamani, said he was sleeping when his attention was drawn to screams from his neighbor’s apartment.
“The next thing I saw was my phone rolling in the water, so I immediately got out of my room which I discovered was flooded all over, and I don’t know how I escaped,” he said.
A shocked Nnamani added that it was thereafter that he understood that the incident took the lives of his neighbor, a pregnant woman and two children within the compound. He said he is now squatting in a nearby house as he doesn’t have anywhere to go or money to look for another place.
Another woman close to the house identified as Mai-Kifi, was also said to have died along with two of her daughters. At Immaculate Street just across the stream, another woman popularly known as “Calabar” died with her two children and another boy who lived with his parents in the compound.
Another person died around Poloso area of Rafin-Sanyi, bringing the number of deaths in the area alone to 10.
Many residents faulted the claim that their compounds were marked, maintaining that they were only suddenly told that the houses would be pulled down after the flood disaster in 2017.
The village head of Rafin-Sanyi, Malam Zakari Madaki who acknowledged the visit of some government officials to the area after the incident, put the total casualty figure within the area, and that of Unguwar-Gwari where he supervised as Wakili, to 22.
Daily Trust on Saturday gathered that two other children died around Living Faith Church in Madalla, a neighboring community, just as a woman’s body was seen floating in the river around Chaza community, all within Suleja Area Council.
Man who lost wife, 4 kids grateful for the empathy
The man who lost four children and his pregnant wife, Mr. Obioma Thank God, expressed gratitude over visits from dignitaries that included the state governor, Abubakar Sani Bello, and the Emir of Suleja, Malam Muhammad Auwal Ibrahim.
He said apart from the condolences, the governor spoke to him at length, including how he got his land allocation for the destroyed house.
“The governor then told me he would get back to me while directing the chairman to communicate to me later. The same issue was raised by his highness, and after I answered him, he said I should try to meet him at the palace. I am still hoping and waiting, believing that something positive would come from them,” he said.
He added: “But is there anything positive that can come out more than my children? I think there is nothing like that in this world. They were my great assets and treasure, my best friends, all my trust is to God, that is the only one who can make the impossibility to be possible, and I handed everything to him.”
He said the stream that passes behind his house was previously a tiny one but kept expanding.
“It was a piece of wood that was used as a bridge across it, to tell you the size then.”
Speaking on how he got the land, Obioma said he bought the allocation paper from somebody who got the offer and proceeded to the area council where he got the necessary documents after verifying it to be genuine.
“It was when all the buildings within the old barracks were marked that our private buildings were included, but not because of their locations, as we were made to know then.
“We then approached the area council with our documents where they accused the previous administration of allocating lands at the wrong places.
“But all along they secured us after a kind of understanding and went ahead to demolish all buildings within the barracks. So it’s not right to come out now to blame us,” he added.
But while Obioma was lucky to get a visitation from prominent persons, others including a woman who lost her two children are yet to be that lucky.
Our reporter who also visited the area heard that as a result, the names of the affected people are yet to be captured as claimed, as according to them, no government official has so far visited them.
“A neighbor of the woman there, who lost two children, Christopher Acham, said a woman known as Majesty lost one of her children after a wall fell on him.
“Two others were pulled by the flood, one died and the third one was rescued,” he said.
He said while the mother of the two deceased children relocated to her sister’s home in Gauraka town along the Abuja-Kaduna high way, her husband relocated to his brother’s house in Madalla.
He said no government official visited them for any documentation, let alone donating any relief material to them. The same story was given by another victim of the flood, Wilson Williams, along with other victims.
Meanwhile, the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMet) recently released the 2020 Seasonal Rainfall Prediction (SRP) report, where it stated that Nigeria was expected to have rainfalls, ranging from 400mm in the North to over 3000mm in the South.
It predicted a total of 28 states for “highly probable flood risk” and that the flooding could affect a total of 102 local government areas across the 28 states while another 275 local government areas are categorized as “moderately probable flood risk”.
The states predicted to experience severe floods include Borno, Yobe, Gombe, Adamawa, Taraba, Bauchi, Plateau, Nasarawa, Benue, Niger, Kogi, Enugu, and Anambra.
Others are Imo, Abia, Rivers, Akwa Ibom, Delta, Edo, Ekiti, Osun, Kwara, Zamfara, Sokoto, Lagos, Ondo, Bayelsa, Kaduna, Oyo, Ogun, Abia, Kano, Kebbi, and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
However, torrential rainfalls in the last few weeks have led to serious floods in many states, such as Lagos, Delta, Niger, and the FCT, with consequent loss of lives and properties, while many people were reportedly displaced.