How five corps members died in road accident – Survivor


One of the survivors of Wednesday’s road accident which claimed the lives of five young Nigerians who were on their way to participate in the mandatory National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) has revealed what went wrong inside the commercial bus before the incident.

The driver had fallen asleep on the car steering wheel, she said.

The bus was travelling at night from Uyo, Nigeria’s South-south, to Katsina, in the North-west region, when the accident occurred along Abuja-Abaji-Kwali Expressway on Wednesday around 4 a.m.

Four of the victims were from Akwa Ibom State, while one was from Imo State.

The Akwa Ibom State Polytechnic, Ikot Osura, confirmed that two of their graduates were among the dead.

The polytechnic Rector, Moses Umobong, in a statement on Thursday, identified the deceased as Innocent Ukpere and Victor Akpan, who were graduates of Mass Communication.

The other three have been identified as Miracle Asuquo, graduate of Psychology; Stella Ekikoh, graduate of Sociology and Anthropology; and Ezuruike Coleman, a graduate of History and International Studies, all of the University of Uyo (Uniuyo), Akwa Ibom State.

Christiana Essien, who survived the accident, told PREMIUM TIMES, Thursday, that all the occupants of the bus hired the bus just by the gate of the town campus of the Uniuyo, and that they departed Uyo around 3.30 p.m. on Tuesday.

Miss Essien, a Uniuyo music graduate, was going to Katsina for the NYSC programme.

Sixteen of them were inside the bus, she said.

Nine of them were going to Katsina, while others were going to Kano State, except one person who was going to Niger State.

Miss Essien said the driver occasionally dozed off while driving, and would sniff some snuff (dried tobacco), apparently with the hope that it could help him to stay awake.

TEXEM

“The speed he was using was too much, he was entering potholes on the road. I was complaining, ‘Sir, calm down, take it easy. We are not rushing anyway, we will get to Katsina. The man did not answer me. At some point, I was tired of complaining, and I slept off.

“A lot of people in the bus had slept off. The driver was sleeping, he fell asleep while driving,” she said.

She said the bus eventually collided with a tanker.

“When I heard ‘kpoom’, I woke up, the roof of the vehicle was no longer there, I told the girl that was beside me to jump out of the vehicle, (and) so she jumped out.

“When I came down, four people had died already,” she said. A woman had her head severed from the body, she added.

One of the victims later died at the hospital. The bus driver was alive, but had a small cut on his head, according to her.

Miss Essien said before the accident when the bus arrived in Kogi State around 1:20 a.m., the driver had rejected her appeal that they should park the bus at a filling station and spend the night there before proceeding on the journey.

About her state of health after the accident, Miss Essien said she was admitted at the NYSC camp clinic in Katsina and treated for minor pain. “I am fine,” she said.

Meanwhile, the NYSC Director-General, Shuaibu Ibrahim, visited Uyo on Thursday to commiserate with the Akwa Ibom State Government and the families of the late corps members.

Mr Ibrahim, a brigadier-general, said of the incident, “Yesterday was a black Wednesday in NYSC. We woke up with the sad news that five of our corps members lost their lives along the Abuja-Abaji-Kwali Expressway.

“I had to rush down to the hospital to really confirm if it was true, and at last, it was true.

“We are completely devastated and diminished because as parents we know what it takes to train a child to this level.”

He said the late corps members were “patriotic Nigerians”.

He, however, advised corps members against travelling at night.

The Akwa Ibom Governor, Udom Emmanuel, while receiving the NYSC director-general sent his condolences to the families of the late corps members.

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