The Sun News

Flood fury

  • How 100 houses were destroyed, 13 killed, more missing in Niger
  • I’m done for, says man who lost 2 wives, 6 kids and home

From JOHN ADAMS, Minna

Rain, they say is a blessing as it is usually accompanied by bumper harvest, but the rain of Saturday night, July 8, 2017 came to exact a heavy price from the residents of Hayin Nasarawa Iku in Tafa Local Government area and Checheniya in Angwar Masallachi in Suleja Local Government area, all in Niger State.

For 43-year-old Mallam Sa’adu Abubakar, popularly called Sa’adu Na’Aisha, a tea seller at Checheniya, the rain should not have come.

After the five-hour downpour which began at 1:00am, Mallam Sa’adu lost everything he had laboured for all his life, except the dress he had on and his little tea shop from which he ekes a living with members of his family who all perished on the night of the disaster.

It was a night of pain, as Sa’adu watched helplessly his two wives, six children and his five-room apartment swept away by the flood which accompanied the storm.

From the testimony of the surviving head of the household, it was a situation of everybody to himself or herself and God for all, because although some of the children held him by his dress, crying for help, he was busy struggling to save himself from the deluge that hit the family home.

Sa’adu said after he regained a little strength, he ran to his people for help  , but when they arrived 10 minutes later, they did not meet a single block of what used to be his house. He moved into the house in January this year with his family after completing only three out of the five rooms the construction of which began in 2014.

Among the deceased was his sixday-old baby whose naming was slated for the following day.

Before the tragedy, Sa’adu told Saturday Sun correspondent that he came back from his tea shop at 11pm that night and could not sleep until about midnight because he was discussing arrangements for the naming ceremony with his second wife, Hajara.

He said there was no sign any serious of any serious down pour that night. It was also the first rain in the area, which turned out to be a disaster.

Sa’adu, who spoke in Hausa, explained that although the flood started to wreak havoc from his neighbours’ houses, as he heard them screaming, it was too late to wake up and evacuate his family, as his house was already shaking.

He said the mighty force of the flood immediately brought down one of his rooms in which his first wife, Sueba, and her five children slept. “Before I knew it the second room went down and the whole house was taken over by flood and my children were holding me, while my two wives were in the water struggling and calling me.

“Because the whole place was dark, I didn’t even know where to start from and the next thing, I saw myself in water and two of my children holding onto me had dissapeared.

“The water carried me about 50 meters away, but I managed to struggle to safety and when I regained my strength, I ran to my people for help, but by the time we came back, we couldn’t meet a single block”.

Sa’adu said the bodies of his second wife, the baby she backed and two others were recovered around 10:00am on Sunday. The rest are still missing.

Some mallams were assigned to stay around Sa’adu and to pray and counsel him, as he was yet to overcome the trauma.

Also at Checheniya a member of Man-O-War and security guard with a private company identified as Haruna, reportedly drowned while trying to rescue people in the area, leaving his wife and two children.

Similar fate befell a 25 –year- old Abu Abdullahi Gura of Angwan Kuspa, behind the Emir’s palace in Suleja. He died while trying to recover the floating body of an unidentified woman.

According to his elder brother, Mallam Mansur Abubakar Gura, the late Abu was outside on the fateful day brushing his teeth when he saw the body and immediately jumped inside the river to recover it. But in the process, he hit his head on a rock and bled from the nose.

“At that point he lost consciousness and the water swept him away. We organised a search team who followed the water way up to Gwagwalada, but they couldn’t find the body, and up till now, we are still looking for the body,” the brother of the deceased said.

Apart from the human casualties, over 50 houses were damaged by the rampaging storm in Checheniya area alone.

But in Hayin Nasarawa Iku, Zuma East, the damage was more on buildings and farm lands. Only two lives were lost, while two persons- Mohammed Musmiyu (17) and Jibrin Abdullahi  (15), who were injured, were taken to and treated at the hospital by a Good Nigerian were treated on Monday.

Medical Director, Suleja General Hospital, Dr. Adedokun Adebayo Adekunle said the victims had been discharged.

Among the dead was 19- year- old Shehu Suleman who just finished his Senior Secondary School Certificate Examinations (SSCE) from Government Secondary School, Nasarawa Iku.

His body was discovered on Tuesday morning under a tree.

However, that of another boy suspected to be an Almajiri with a Koranic school in the area, is yet to be found by press time.

The father of late Shehu, Mallam Suleman, a businessman told Saturday Sun that his late son left the house around 7:30 in the morning with the intent to help some people whose houses were submerged evacuate their belongings when he was swept away.

But, Sabi Yusuf, 47, his three wives and 14 children were lucky as they escaped unhurt, although they could not salvage anything from their house built right at the bank of the river.

He said he had lived in Hayin Nasarawa Iku since he was born, but never witnessed this type of flooding. He said the residents were lucky that the flood occurred when people were already awake around 7:00 in the morning.

Sabi Yusuf and his displaced family currently is housed in a make-shift trampoline.

Another victim, Mohammed Ibrahim, 38, said his 14- room- house inherited from his late father was submerged and the entire household’s property washed away.

The 18 occupants, including his wife and three children, all escaped, but could not salvage anything from the house.

Also Ali Mamsa, a native of Hayin Nasarawa, said the community had never witnessed a flood of this magnitude in his entire life, saying that although it rained for hours, it was a surprise it wreaked such havoc, as it was not as heavy as to cause the type of flood. According to him, although it had rained throughout the night, the level of water was only noticed to have increased at 7:30 in the morning, saying before he knew it, his apartment had been flooded.

“At that point, I immediately began to evacuate my family  to safety. When I came back to evacuate my property, the whole house had been taken over by water and I decided to retreat.”

He said there was a similar flood in 2009, but noted that it was not as devastating, adding that “this very one came with force such that nobody could go near it, that was how people watched their belongings being swept away.”

The desk officer Niger State Emergency Management Agency (NSEMA), in charge of Tafa Local Government, Abdullahi Alhassan, met taking inventory of the affected houses, confirmed that over 50 houses and shops were submerged in the area.

The Vice Chairman of the local government, Hon. Samuel K. Yako, also corroborated him, but added that the inventory taking was still ongoing.


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