The year has gone and many incidents have taken place. They were disasters that would have been averted, however we can learn from them to forestall a replay of them in the future. A lot of incidents occurred in 2016 but here are our top five. They were ones that left a sad impression in the minds of those who witnessed and heard it.
Death of James Ocholi, Federal Minister: This was arguably the most publicized safety-related incident of 2016. On March 6, the Minister of State for Labor and Employment, James Ocholi (SAN), his wife, Blessing, and son, Joshua, died in a car crash at Kilometre 57, along Kaduna-Abuja highway, close to Doka village. The minister’s driver and orderly sustained serious injuries. The crash was blamed on a burst tyre which caused the Toyota Lexus LX570 to somersault. The death of the minister and his family left many in tears across the country, especially his family members, friends, Nigerian lawyers and the ruling All Progressives Congress. The incident also generated controversy when the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) said that the driver of the SUV, Taiwo Elegbede did not have a valid driver’s license.
Lekki building collapse: The sad tale of the Lekki building collapse on March 8 is one that cannot be easily forgotten for many residents of Lagos. The loss of lives and properties, and collateral damage to public infrastructure has ranked this incident among the top on our list. The incident, which experts believed could have been avoided, claimed over 30 lives while many others were left seriously injured. Many of the victims were workers and squatters who slept in the building, among others. According to reports, the building sunk before collapsing. The Lagos state government is presently prosecuting the building’s owners, Lekki Worldwide Estate Ltd and Get Too Rich Investment Limited, and seven others, for adding two floors to the government-approved number of floors.
According to a December 14 statement by Lagos State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Kazeem Adeniji, “Following the conclusion of investigation by the Nigerian Police Force and technical reports of relevant Experts, my Office has concluded its Legal Advice and decided to prosecute the suspects for failure to obtain Planning Permit contrary to the provisions of the Urban and Regional Planning and Development Law, Ch. CU2 and Involuntary Manslaughter contrary to the provisions of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, Ch. C17, Laws of Lagos State, 2015 respectively.”
- Kano market fire disaster: According to the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), the fire incident that devastated the Sabon-Gari Market in Kano between March 25 and 26 was the worst market fire disaster in the nation’s history. Little wonder then that it made this list. The agency also said that no fewer than 3,800 shops were destroyed in the incident. Although no life was lost, the affected traders pegged the value of goods destroyed at N2 trillion, about a third of Nigeria’s total budget for the year. The Sabon-Gari market traders’ association added that 75 percent of the market was razed. While the cause of the fire was not established, it started in the night when nobody was around to combat it.
- Kano Flood: No fewer than 5,300 houses were destroyed by flooding in 22 local government areas of Kano in August. The flood lasted for two weeks. The most affected LGAs include, Bebeji, Dawakin Kudu, Kiru Shanono, Bagwai and Garun Mallam. The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) said 18 people died and properties worth N700 million were destroyed.
- Akwa-Ibom church building collapse: The December 10 tragedy at Reigners Bible Church building in Uyo, Akwa Ibom is taking another spot on our list for the sheer number of victims. The unfortunate incident which occurred during the bishopric consecration of the church’s founder, Apostle Akan Weeks claimed over 32 lives (some media reports put it at 100 or more), with many others injured. This particular incident also put the life of the state governor, Mr. Udom Emmanuel at risk; he was lucky to escape. The incident, which has been described as the worst in recent history in the state, prompted the state government to set up a Commission of Inquiry. It also attracted the intervention of different bodies, including the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), which called on the public and churches to desist from having services in uncompleted buildings.