August 26, 2020, will forever be remembered by many families in Gusau town, the Zamfara State capital, as the day 18 men perished in a fatal road accident along Tsafe-Gusau road in the state.
The accident involving a trailer and four vehicles occurred around 4.30 pm near Fegin Mahe village in the Tsafe Local Government Area of the state when some supporters of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party went to welcome the state governor, Alhaji Bello Matawalle, who was returning to the state after some weeks of official engagement in Abuja.
One of those who survived the accident, Mallam Bello Bakada, said everything happened in a twinkling.
Bakada said there was a downpour on that day which made it difficult for motorists to clearly see oncoming vehicles, as the driver rushed to catch up with the governor’s convoy that passed a few minutes then.
He said, “It was seriously raining on that day. We could hardly see oncoming vehicles when suddenly a trailer truck belonging to a firm appeared from the opposite direction and ran into one of our vehicles. The seven persons in that vehicle died instantly. Two other vehicles also rammed into the trailer resulting in the death of another 11 persons. The death occurred so fast.’’
Bakada added that it became impossible to evacuate the bodies of the seven persons in one of the vehicles on the spot. He said the vehicle was towed to the Yariman Bakura Specialist Hospital, Gusau, where the charred bodies were removed. He named those in the vehicles whose bodies were evacuated to include Mansur, Shamsu, Dansarki, Abdulhamid, Uzairu and Mustafa.
It was gathered that the governor who was approaching Gusau town when the incident happened had to return to the accident site where he spent several hours to ensure that the corpses were evacuated to Gusau town for burial. Those who sustained varying degrees of injury were rushed to the hospital.
One of the survivors, Shehu Musa, while speaking on his sickbed at the Yariman Bakura Specialist Hospital Gusau, said he did not know what exactly happened that day, adding that “I only found myself in the hospital.”
Musa stated that he was unconscious for two days and when he woke up, he found himself with a broken leg and injuries in other parts of his body. “All I could remember is that I saw a trailer coming towards our direction and I woke up to see myself in the hospital,” he said.
Another survivor, 35-year-old Jamilu Mohammed, whose backbone was affected, also said he was said to be unconscious for two days, adding that when he woke up he found himself in the hospital.
He stated, “I was not aware that I sustained an injury until when I tried to get up from the hospital bed but couldn’t do so. That was the time my friend, Bello Bakada, told me what happened to me. He told me about the accident and how some of our friends died.’’
A father to one of the deceased, Mallam Lawali Abubakar, said his son, Shamsu Lawali, left home that day in company with some of his friends who went to welcome Governor Matawalle, adding that “he was among those who died in the ghastly motor accident.’’
Abubakar said preparations for the wedding of the deceased were in top gear, lamenting that, “he has gone forever.” He, however, said he had taken the incident in good faith.
He thanked the state governor for giving cash assistance of N1.5m to the family.
Abdul Aziz is also one of those who died in the accident. His wife, Suwaiba Abdulaziz Dansarki, nursing a five-month-old girl, refused to talk when our correspondent tried to interview her. She only nodded her head and remained silent.
But Abdul Aziz’s father, Alhaji Mohammed Dama, who summoned the courage to speak on behalf of the family, said the late Abdul Aziz was the family’s breadwinner.
He said, “His demise is a great loss to the entire family. We really missed him but that was how God destined it to happen.”
To express his sympathy to the families of the departed, the governor declared three-day mourning in the state and also announced a donation of N2m to each family of a married victim and N1.5m to each family of an unmarried victim.
Similarly, the governor approved a monthly allowance of N50,000 to each of the families of the deceased till the end of his tenure.
The governor also proposed a death penalty law for reckless driving in the state, noting that the law would drastically reduce overspeeding in the state.
Meanwhile, the management of the company whose vehicle was involved in the accident had paid a condolence visit to the governor and the Emir of Gusau, Alhaji Ibrahim Bello.