More facts emerge about mudslide that killed four siblings

MUDSLIDE

Site of the mudslide in Orisha area of Isheri-Magodo, Ojodu. PHOTOS: GODFREY OKPUGIE

NOT much has been heard about the recent mudslide that hit a bungalow in Orisha area of Isheri-Magodo, Ojodu, Lagos State, sending four children of the same father to their early graves.

For those who only learnt about the sad news through the media, it would be impossible to imagine or fathom how it all happened.
But The Guardian visited the scene last week to find out how it happened and to ascertain the remote and immediate causes.

The Guardian discovered that the affected house was built on a plot of land with an upslope at the backyard which resulted following the commercial excavation of laterite with pay loaders by sand mongers years ago.
The cliff-like hill, stretching through the backyards of the houses on one side of the street to the end, poses danger to the buildings at the bottom whenever it rained heavily.

What makes the place more dangerous is the fact that the weight of the houses built at the top of the hill act as pressure that make the earth give way at any time.

A commercial motorcyclist, Monday Okewo, operating in the area, told The Guardian that the whole area was undeveloped as at early 2002 and that the overpopulation in Lagos gave rise to the rapid urbanization of the place.
“People came in here in droves to build houses between 2002 and 2010. Those who could not afford or get land to buy resorted to acquiring the plots of land at the base of the steep upslope to build their houses, not minding the risk that could result from doing so.”

But Mrs. Odia, one of the wives of the father of the four children killed by the mudslide, told The Guardian that her husband did not acquire the land because he was desperate to build a house.

According to her, Odia bought the land before the land sellers (Omo onile) began to excavate laterite there for sale.
She said it was when her husband’s attempts to stop the omo onile failed that he was compelled to build a house at the half plot left at the base of the hill that resulted from the excavation. The other half was at the top.

She said the omo onile sold the remaining half portion of the land at the top of the hill to another person, who built a big house there.
“My husband tried to stop the man from building a house there because the land belongs to him (my husband). He reported to the police who arrested the man.

But though they were at the police station on many occasions, my husband’s protest that erecting a house there could induce a mudslide on his house below was to no effect.

The man used his financial power and influence to bring to naught my husband’s protests
“It is the pressure of the building up there at the top of the hill that caused the mud to slide down to hit the back wall off our building on to the children’s room and kill the four children, who were sleeping inside” said the woman amid sobs, adding, “the owner of the house together with other occupiers of the house had fled since the mudslide occurred.”

Odia was not at home at the time The Guardian visited the place.
He was said to have gone to an undisclosed hospital in Yaba for hypertension treatment, an aftermath of the incident.
Three of the dead children were of the same mother, while one belonged to his second wife.

mudslide1

Survivors of the mudslide incident, Mrs. Odia (right) and Lucky, brother to the deceased.

National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) explained that a mudslide slipped from a hill, hit a three-bedroom bungalow, causing a partial collapse of the building and trapping the children.
Rescue efforts failed as all four were brought out dead.
The children affected were Sylva, 23; Sayo, 15; Clinton, 11; and Endurance, eight.
The woman, who gave birth to three of the deceased, was said to have sustained minor injury and was rushed to Yaba General Hospital for treatment, NEMA said.

It was discovered that about five of Odiah’s children, who were not at home at the time of the incident are the only children the man has now. Of these, two are undergraduates from University of Benin (UNIBEN, Benin City, Edo State capital.
One of them called Lucky is the eldest child and was among those that welcomed The Guardian’s reporter to the area.

The family seemed to have relocated temporarily to the neigbouring house for shelter for the time being.
At the time of The Guardian’s visit, all the houses had marks of demolition put on them by the Lagos State government but sources in the area said some of the landlords were lobbying to be spared and allowed time to do something to secure their houses against future re-occurrence.



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