By Dan Amasingha:
For those familiar with the story of Suleja a major town in Niger State, which serves as a gate way town to the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, it is often that of one tragedy or the other. Nigerians cannot forget in a hurry the Christmas day bombing at Mandella, a settlement situated a few kilometres from Suleja City Centre which claimed no fewer than one hundred lives and the tragedy in the area heralded terrorism in Nigeria, at least on a large scale.
Friday July 7 was to many residents of Suleja and its environ like any other day. It was a day the Muslim faithful had besieged the various mosques in town and adjourning settlements to pay supplication to Allah. Mallam Saidu Abubakar was among the several worshippers on that fateful day, but unknown to him event that would place his name on major news electronic news channels and newspapers all over the globe were just few hours away from unfolding.
Perhaps, like most resident of Suleja, the Abubakars after their dinner together as a united family that Saturday evening might have been thankful to the Creator for the forming cloud that evening, like most Nigerians who now consider sleeping with power a luxury due to the epileptic public electricity, the coming of the rains is often seen as a big relief in the hours of night.
The family of nine after saying their good night wishes all retired to their various beds in their respective rooms. In fact the family were in a festive mood as a result of the new addition to the house hold, the professional carpenter and tea seller was in good mood over the manifold blessings bestowed upon him by Allah,but a few hours later his life was completely shattered as he lost eight members of his family to the rampaging flood occasioned by the down pour that started on Saturday night and lasted into the early hours of Sunday from which the bustling town is yet to recover almost a week after.
Speaking to DAILY ASSET in an interviews, the grief –stricken father who was the worst hit by the tragedy, accounting for eight out of the 16 death toll recorded in the ravaging flood that resulted in loss of lives and destruction of properties worth millions of Naira said on that day in question he was sleeping with his family members who all together were nine, without a glimpse of the tragedy lurking in the corner.
According to him, the flood caught them unawares as it led to the collapse of a wing of the five room mud apartment which collapsed on them, trapping them, and before some of their neighbours could wake up to the tragedy, his household the whole building had been sub merged.
He narrated his harrowing experience further: “ I started calling my family members to wake up so that we could get out of the house and take shelter in a safe place but unknown to me, because every where was so dark and the water of the flood was just gushing into the house , we started chanting INA lilahi bilahi laina bilahi Alahi”
He disclosed that he was with one of his children and two wives as the tragedy was unfolding, adding that one of the wives had a new baby and she was holding tight to the child because she was just delivered of the baby and was not feeling too well, but all of a sudden the roof of the building caved in and came crashing on them along his motorcycle.
“I was holding one of the children all this while but the flood suddenly swept me off my feet and I lost contact with my family members but I keep holding unto the child on my hand. But the flood landed me on top of a big rock few metres away from my resident I managed to climb it and made a distress call to my neighbours, but everywhere was in darkness as there was no light as AEDC as unusual as taken light,”
Mallam Saidu said with the help of some good Samaritans, he returned to his settlement and discovers that the whole neighborhood has been evacuated, “ we were forced to make a quick retreat ,but I went back to the bank of the river around 3 am with the help of torch light but he was unable to trace any member of his family”
He said: “We made another retreat and went for the the first Muslim prayers in the morning’ thereafter he went back and found a dead body of one of his family member, which turn out to be his first male child.
“It was one of my male children and another body which turn out to be that of his mother, apparently they were together, after that we saw an additional two dead bodies of my family members bringing the total Numbers of bodies to four”
“But up this point am talking to you the remaining four are yet to be recovered, the names of my children are Hikma, Musa, Yusuf, Zainab,Asmau and Nana Khadijat”.
As the dust of this latest tragedy’ to hit Suleja is yet to be settled, time has come for both the Federal government and the Niger state government to take more than a passing interest in the affairs of the town that gave up its name for the Federal Capital Territory, if the fruit be told most of the major tragedies hitting the town are human induced as the town lack basic amenities for its inhabitants.