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How Three-year-old Boy Died In Lagos Flood Two Days After Birthday


When three-year-old Daniel Okpah left home for school on June 24, 2011, he was full of life. His father, Meshach, bade him farewell. But Meshach did not have a premonition that it was the last time he would see his son, who clocked three on June 22.
Daniel left school after the closing hour but did not make it home. He fell into a gutter and drowned after a downpour in the Alakara area of Mushin in Lagos.
While Daniel’s parents have come to terms with the reality that they would not see their son again, they are saddened that all efforts to retrieve his corpse since then have proved abortive. His body was washed away by the flood.
Meshach told PUNCH METRO that Daniel was coming home from school when he slipped and fell into a big gutter, which immediately swept him away.
He said, “Daniel attended Alakara Nursery and Primary School, Mushin, with his seven-year-old brother, Samuel. They usually went to school and came back together because the school is just a stone’s throw from our home.
“On the fateful day, I was at work when a neighbour called me on the telephone, telling me to come home immediately. It dawned on me that something must have gone wrong as my neighbours refused to give me further information.
“On getting home, I saw a crowd gathered not too far from my house. They were all looking into the gutter as if they were searching for something.
“When I asked what was going on, I was told that Samuel and Daniel had fallen into the gutter. However, they were able to rescue only Samuel because he was wearing his school uniform and was easy to spot.
“However, after Samuel was rescued, he told the crowd that his three-year-old brother was also in the gutter but by then it was too late as the strong torrents had swept him away.”
PUNCH METRO learnt that Alakara Primary School, which most of the children in the area attend, lack adequate infrastructure and good security. This makes it easy for pupils to leave the school premises at will.
The spokesman for the Kudabar Community Development Association, Odi-Olowo Council Development Area, Mr. Ilari Ogun, said people in the community had gone to visit the school to find out why pupils were allowed to leave the school premises during downpour.
He said, “We went to the school and we discovered that security was very lax there. The school compound has become a thoroughfare as strangers come through the school to get to the next street.
“Also, the school’s fence is broken and touts come in there at midnight to sleep and carry out nefarious activities. In the morning, you will see stubs of cigarette and Indian hemp as well as condoms on the floor. This is the kind of school government has provided for our children.”
Ogun added that on that day, there was no one gaurding the school gate and the pupils were allowed to go home when there were floods everywhere.
“It is their duty to guard the pupils and prevent them from leaving the school premises under unsafe circumstances. However, for some reasons, nobody was around on that day to monitor the pupils,” he said.
Members of the community, who spoke to our correspondent, attributed the huge flood in the area to a bad drainage system, adding that the problem started after a Chinese company, which the government had given a contract to repair the railway, tampered with the drainage channels.
In a petition addressed to the then Commissioner for the Environment, Dr. Muiz Banire, dated September 15, 2010 and signed by the CDA Chairperson, Mrs. Sandra Alex-Oni, the community decried the deplorable state of the drainage in the area, especially on Kugbuyi Street.
“The drainage system is levelled with the road creating severe flooding in homes. During the rainy season, stagnant water is constant and all efforts to drain this water have failed,” the letter reads in part.
“The drainage channel was not done properly as the flow of water has been directed towards Bada Street, which is very wrong. Consequently, whenever it rains, the flood is always so intense that an adult could even drown,” a member of the community, who craved anonymity said.
Meshach hoped the death of his son would lead to positive changes in the community, adding that members of staff of the school had paid him a condolence visit.
When asked what efforts had been made to recover the body of his son, he said, “I think the strong torrent will have taken his body to the canal around Idi Araba. We’ll keep looking though.”
However, the Assistant Head Teacher, of the school, Mrs. Sherifat Omobola, said the school could not be held responsible for Daniel’s death because the incident occurred after school hours.
She said, “The area is always flooded whenever it rains. On that Friday, the school was flooded because of the rain. So, we waited for the rain to subside before guiding the pupils to dry land.
“Unfortunately, after escorting them to a safe place, Samuel and Daniel went somewhere else. It was on their way to the unknown place that they both slipped and fell on Agege Motor Road.
“Daniel lives on Daniel Street and we led him and his brother to Kugbuyi Street. So, what were they looking for on Agege Motor Road?”
Omobola added that on the said day, three other children who were not pupils of the school also fell into the gutter but were rescued by teachers from the school.
“It is very unfortunate that Daniel drowned. On that day, we rescued three other children. Even when we heard Daniel had drowned, we were at the scene trying our best to help and after the incident, we went to the home of the parents to commiserate with them,” she said.
Omobolanle also lamented the poor state of security in the area, which she said could easily affect the school in the event that violence broke out.

Source: http://www.punchng.com/Articl.aspx?theartic=Art201107111365998

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