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Emotions High As Katsina Flood Survivors Recount Ordeal



Jibia, a popular Nigeria Niger border town in Katsina State has remained enveloped in grief, as it has been particularly hard-hit, as families,  farmers an Since the heavy down pour of over four hours that almost brought Katsina State to its knees penultimate Monday, July 16, 2018 hardly,  a day ever passes without survivors  and bereaved family members recounting their  ordeals. ANDY ASEMOTA captures the trauma and tears. d their  livelihoods were swept away by the devastating flooding.

Jibia, a popular Nigeria – Niger border town in Katsina State has remained enveloped in grief, as it has been particularly hard-hit, as families,  farmers and their  livelihoods were swept away by the devastating flooding.

It has been days of tears and testimonies in Jibia as survivors and bereaved families , mostly the aged and widowers narrates their nightmarish experiences after the  killer flood wrecked havoc on their town.

It would  be recalled that the downpour, which lasted hours, claimed lives of about 49 persons, left 20 missing, over 500 houses destroyed, 260 livestock dead and farmlands , as well as electrical installations were destroyed in the area.

Life in about six communities in Jibia, hitherto known for their up tempo character, has remained shrouded in mourning caused by the flooding of Monday, July 16, 2018.

While twenty lifeless bodies have been retrieved and committed to mother earth. At least, seventeen additional corpses have been recovered as the water receded further.

As more bodies are  exhumed from hitherto submerged houses as well as those seen floating from neighbouring Niger Republic, scores of mourners have continued to throng the home of identified  victims or the temporary abode of the displaced family members,  particularly the inconsolable relatives.

The survivors are presently resettling  at makeshift camps in schools and government is supplying food items and medicals to them.

The sad occurrence was however attributed to the backward flow of Jibia river, following the heavy downpour which lasted from 12midnight Sunday, July 15.

The dreaded flood which sent shivers down the spine of affected  Unguwar Kwakwa, Unguwar Maikwai, Tudun Tulkari, Dan Tudun, Sabuwar Tikari and Tsoho Tudun Tikari has left them with the sad tale of collapsed drainage, wells, buildings and wreckages.

Many of the victims who survived the ugly incidence shared shared what they describe as horrific experience, considering the fact that houses situated along drainages, stretching up to a kilometer were destroyed by the heavy water which gushed in high volume into their communities.

Some of the victims spoken to described their experiences as horrifying, adding that the memories will last forever.

Ibrahim LB, who lost a 12-year old girl Muhissiya, said “I was holding my other children while my wife was holding the hand of our daughter, the rain continued and the water level kept rising.

“Right before my eyes, a forceful wave cuts in between my wife and daughter and that was the last I saw of my daughter. She was later removed from under the rubble dead,” he said.

Another victim, an elderly man Malam Ali, said he survived by holding on to a branch of tree.

“I held on to it with all my life, and luckily it didn’t give away; I saw how the heavy water flow was carrying people and properties,” he said.

Bishir Falalau of Kukan Dan Maciji village said his house’s fence gave up less than an hour into the rain.

“I, my wife and two kids luckily escaped. We heard the sound of our fence collapsing, even though it was dark. I managed to get out of my house to my neighbour’s who lost three children in the flood.”

Buhari Ashiru said since he moved into the town 15 years ago nothing of such had occurred.

“Water level in my house reached my neck, you can’t open the door because water has shut it, only our little windows were the outlets, it was horrifying experience that you don’t pray even for your enemy to witness.”

How I saved 18 Lives – Maiku, a butcher

For 50 years old Alhaji Shuaibu Maiku, it is a story of joy and grief at the same. He said though his family escaped death, they lost their home and valuables to the disaster.

“I am a butcher. I have three wives with 15 children who narrowly escaped death with only the clothes we wore. In fact, what I am putting on now was given to me by a friend.

He said as they made efforts to protect their home,  the drainage beside their house kept increasing, before the collapsed of his house.

Given the enormity of the danger, they had no opportunity to remove any valuable from their home before the family fled to safety. He said no sooner had they left the house than the powerful flood submerged their home. We returned the following morning, to meet a heap of sand, cement block, pieces of wood and twisted iron rods.

Bereaved Mother Laments

Few families were as fortunate as the Maiku’s. A bereaved  woman,  identified as Aunty Mallama, said  she tried helplessly to save three of  her kids but was overwhelmed from the violent flood which was shoulder high in some places she crossed to safety.

Faced with imminent danger, although she couldn’t swim, she escaped through the murky water that was fast rising. With her baby strapped to her back while holding on to the other children with both hands, she dashed into the rampaging flood.

Mallama noted that she was worried that her children were drowning after the water covered up to her shoulders and the lads were gasping for breath but she didn’t know they had given up the ghost until she made it to dry land.

Exhumed Boy’s Mum Also Laments

Twenty four hours after 40 years Amina Shuaibu, said  it to the displaced persons camp,  the whereabouts of four of her daughters and her 20 month old son, Safar remained unknown untill Tuesday, July 17, when Safar’s lifeless body was found.

Amina Shuaibu, who broke down and wept while her mother in -law and sympathisers  consoled her, lamented that as they ran in different directions in confusion her son disappeared under the flood.

Inconsolable Husband

For Sani Yahaya (33), his wife, Hanatu Abubakar (22) had a premonition of her death as Jibia and its immediate environments were being plummeted by heavy rainstorm. He left the town some months back with high hopes and with a promise to come back with goodies for her, but alas, he returned to an empty home as Hanatu was among the casualties of the flood.

Sani’s pain at the moment knows no bounds as his plan was to settle in Jibia with the lady he married last year had been shattered.

With tears streaming down his cheeks as he spoke with newsmen in the IDPs camp, he said: “I was on my way home and fate played a cruel one on me on July16. “My wife called to inform me that she was suddenly really feeling quite ill at ease. I asked her to pray and catch some sleep.”

“That was the last discussion I had with her that night. The next call came from my elder brother, who told me that they didn’t see my wife and our teenage sister that slept in the same room with her. He told me that there was flood in our neighbourhood and both of them were missing after part of our compound collapsed.”

Sani disclosed that her remains were found in Madarumfa in Niger Republic, while his sister was miraculously saved by wreckages which stopped her from being dragged by the flood to Jibia River that flows several kilometres into Niger Republic. He lamented that he had lost a gem that could not be replaced.

Osinbajo, Masari promise assistance

Katsina State Governor Aminu Masari, who visited the affected communities, wept saying “I can say that I have never seen this kind of disaster in my life.”

He said “The water level is above 10 feet high and it is a purely a natural disaster as the government had constructed drainages that were emptying into Jibia river.

“The water from the river moved in a reverse order and come back to the town and caused the flooding.

“I have seen a young groom of three days old who loss his bride and still searching for her.”

Masari, while commiserating with the victims, said he had since informed President Muhammadu Buhari of the happenings, adding that president directed NEMA to visit the area and see how it can support.

The governor said he has already ordered for the release of 13 trailer load of relief materials to the victims which was expected today.

He said the state ministry of environment had equally been directed to look at the possibility of diverting water flow into the community from the river.

The District Head of Jibia, Rabe Rabiu described the disaster as alarming and called for urgent attention for the surviving victims.

The Katsina State Commissioner of Police, Mohammed Wakili, has assured the community of the command’s readiness to ensure adequate security.

Governor Masari disclosed that the state government is working with the World Bank to spend N50 billion to tackle erosion, desertification and flooding in the state.

He said the money would be provided through the Nigeria Erosion and Watershed Management Project (NEWMAP), adding that the World Bank would soon launch the project in the state.

Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, visited the state, assuring that the federal government will assist victims affected by the  downpour, which resulted in flooding that wreaked havoc in Jibia Local Government Area of Katsina State.

Vice President Osinbajo who was in company of Governor Aminu Masari; Director General, National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, Mustapha Maihajia; and his State Emergency Management Agency, SEMA counterpart, Dr. Aminu Waziri, visited the makeshift camp for the internally displaced persons at the Muhammadu Rabiu Model Primary School complex, Jibia.

Addressing the displaced persons, Osinbajo said he was in the state on behalf of President Muhammadu Buhari.

According to him, “the President has told me to assure everybody that where compensation is necessary, we will compensate.

“We shall make sure that this sort of thing does not repeat itself. We pray this kind of thing does not repeat itself again.

“As Nigerians, we all deserve to live our lives happily, we deserve to be treated well, and the president has assured everybody that working with the state government, we will do all that is necessary.

“Where compensation is necessary, we will compensate, where rebuilding is necessary, we will do so.”

Too many victims in a sorry state of despair. And after listening to the speeches, they no doubt would heave a sigh of relief that the town would be saved from further carnage,  while they mourn the Irreplaceable loss of their loved ones.