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We lost everything in building collapse – Survivors –

Going round the area with our reporter, the survivors drew the attention of the reporter to the unpleasant smell perceived within the vicinity and claimed…

Going round the area with our reporter, the survivors drew the attention of the reporter to the unpleasant smell perceived within the vicinity and claimed that it could be the about-to- decompose body of Francis.

They bemoaned the treatment meted to them by government officials and emergency workers. David Ibrahim, one of the survivors who escaped through the window of the second floor of the building, said it was unfortunate that with their condition, they had to off-set their medical bills themselves.

“We were taken to the Asokoro General Hospital almost unconscious but we paid our bills ourselves as the rescue workers who delivered us to the hospital with an ambulance just dropped us off and left. The medical treatment we received was not really comprehensive. As I am talking to you, my chest is still hurting. No X-ray was conducted on me as well as the others.’’ He showed our reporter some receipts given to him at the hospital. He complained of lack of assistance from government. “Except for one of our neighbors, a security guard in the adjacent building who has been feeding us in his own capacity. He gave us akara and pap yesterday and today.’’

David said the National Emergency Management Agency’s (NEMA) officials were at the spot but did not give them any sort of relief materials. “Look at where we are sleeping now, a security post. It is very cold and we don’t even have blankets to cover ourselves, no food to eat, no temporary accommodation, nothing .We lost everything in the building.’’

He said his elder brother who also escaped the disaster miraculously lost his wife, her brother and his little son and has travelled to the village in Adamawa State for their burial. “We didn’t have money to charter a van or ambulance that would convey the corpes.We thought the government will assist us since all the top government functionaries came and expressed  sympathy.’’

David said it was a Good Samaritan who works with Bauchi State Government that hired the vehicle and gave his brother some money to convey the corpses. He further said, if they can be assisted with transport fares, they would travel to their villages to go and mourn the people they lost and even reflect on their lives.

Like David’s sad tale, one of the survivors, a young man, probably in his early twenties who gave his name as Lucky Ediale, said he happened to have escaped without any bruises but he lost everything in the building as well.

He was also on the second floor of the building when it collapsed. “I had to break the door and yell at my brother to quickly join me. That was how we escaped. As we got out of the building, it did not take up to 10 seconds when the whole structure came down, the whole building collapsed within seconds. It was like a movie.”

The survivors are appealing to rescue workers and the caterpillar operators to continue the search and clear the other heap of rubble so that they can recover the body of Francis. The workers are saying they are done with the operations. Meanwhile, the families of Francis are threatening his cousin whom Francis was living together. “That corpse is there, we are still perceiving ordour,’’he emphasized.

Weekly Trust learnt that three days before the building collapsed, one of the security men supervising the place threatened to sack all the occupants and they had to beg for more time to plan moving out.

As for the final clearing, they are contemplating appealing to National Emergency Management Agency to assist if the people handling it refuse to get to the foundation of the building in order to recover Francis’s body. They claimed to have called the emergency line of NEMA but it was not going through as at the time of filing this report. It was gathered that out of the 14 survivors, among whom 7 were taken to the hospital are all recuperating presently.

Our reporter observed that in spite of the presence of some military personnel, some hoodlums have been trooping to the scene and making away with iron rods, alluminium roofing sheets, windows and sundry building materials.

Meanwhile, the Secretary, FCT Health and Human Services Secretariat, Dr. Precious Kalamba Gbeneol, has called on the Council for the Regulation of Engineers in Nigeria (COREN) as well as other relevant authorities responsible for regulating building construction in Nigeria, to intensify efforts to reduce the incidence of building collapse to the barest minimum.

The Secretary, while visiting the Asokoro District Hospital where the victims of the disaster are receiving treatment, directed that the victims be treated free of charge and for the bodies of those that lost their lives to be kept pending when they are claimed by relatives. But as some of the victims claimed to have off-set their medical bills, who flouted the directives by Dr. Gbeneol that the victims be treated free-of-charge? The answer appears to be under the rubble as well.

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