Posted by By Kenny Ashaka, Kaduna on
For the residents of Kaduna metropolis, penultimate Saturday was a mournful day.
For the residents of Kaduna metropolis, penultimate Saturday was a mournful day. A mishap, involving students of the elitist Abuja Capital Science Academy For Gifted Children, had inflicted mortal harm. The boat in which about 68 SS1 students of the Academy were traveling had capsized, drowning eight students.
The students had gone to the Trappco Resort located near the Kaduna Airport, about thirty minutes drive from Kaduna metropolis. But the adventure turned sour when the boat emptied all its occupants into the 26-metre deep lake.
However, the tragedy seemed to have a touch of paradox. Young Mahmoud Dabo, son of the former Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Alhaji Aminu Dabo, who was not sailing in the boat had got drowned. As at press time, his body was yet to be recovered in spite of efforts by local and foreign divers.
Attracted to the scene by distress calls while on a polo ride within the resort, Mahmoud instinctively took a plunge into the lake on sighting his sister, Bilkisu Dabo, gasping for breath. But in the ensuing melee to save a soul, he got drowned.
The ‘lake of death’ is part of the legacies left behind by a construction company, which mined the spot for rocks while building the Kaduna Airport. It was later abandoned after they struck water. Trappco Resort management saw the sprouting water which had formed into a lake, a veritable site for picnicking and bought it.
Bright J. Charles, the Disaster Preparedness and Response Coordinator of the Red Cross Society told Sunday Sun that they were yet to be told how the disaster occurred: “We were only told that the boat capsized. As at the time we came only two students had been rescued. We assisted in giving first aid. The two, a boy and a girl are alive. It was after this that we were told that eight more students were still in the water. And by the time the traditional divers came, it was too late. They couldn’t discover any more corpse until the evening of the following day.”
According to Charles, the divers were able to recover seven of the eight bodies which were taken to the 44 Army Reference Hospital in Kaduna.
Some corpses were later taken to Abuja for burial while those who hailed from Kaduna were released to their parents.
Meanwhile, the management of Trappco Resort has condoled the families, friends and the Academy on the tragic incident. The condolence message reads thus: “The Management of Trappco Resort conveys their condolences to the families, friends, and Capital Science Academy Abuja on the tragic incident that occurred at Trappco Lake and we grieve with all concerned. May the Almighty God grant us the strength and fortitude to bear this painful loss. And we pray that Almighty Allah grant them eternal rest.”
The management also informed the public that the lake facilities in the resort had been closed down with immediate effect.
However, the cause of the mishap remains a mystery as Trappco Resort officials were not particularly forthcoming.
Spokesman and Group Commercial Manager of the Resort, Mallam Abdullahi Gadau told Sunday Sun that “Because of on-going investigations, sorry, we cannot sit down and tell you what is really on the ground. We will prefer if you allow us to grieve with the families of the deceased, a kind of element of silence to enable us pray for the repose of their souls. My director’s children go to the same school. This thing could have happened to anybody. It is God’s work. We just pray for the repose of their soul and may Allah in His infinite mercy grant their families the wherewithal to bear the loss”.
Nevertheless, a pained relative of Alhaji Dabo, Nurudeen Dabo whose nephew’s body was yet to be recovered, expressed anger over the cause of the incident. A visibly angry Dabo took a swipe at the management of Trappco Resort and officials of the Abuja Science Academy on what actually went wrong at the lake which resulted in the tragedy.
He said: “You see, all the stories did not tally. When you go to the management of the school, they will give you one story and when you go to the management of the resort, they will give you another and all their stories do not tally. In one version, they will tell you that the engine developed a fault or that the diesel finished and the students got panicky and started jumping into the water. But up until now, I am still wondering why they have not gotten diesel to run the boat.”
Dabo’s statement put the management of Trappco Resort in a corner that requires them to give an explanation. Dabo had claimed that Trappco officials initially tried to hide the list of students and that there was nothing on the ground for rescue operations, an allegation the officials denied saying the students were all wearing life jackets while in the boat.
Meanwhile, the police in Kaduna have arrested five managers of Trappco Resort. Commissioner of Police, John Hamza Ahmadu said that the Principal of Abuja Capital Science Academy would also be invited for questioning. The Resort has been closed by the Kaduna State Government.
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