It is a season of accidents, it seems. A day before the helicopter crash that killed former Kaduna State Governor, Mr. Patrick Yakowa, former National Security Adviser (NSA), Lt.- Gen Andrew Owoye Azazi and four others, the convoy of a former governor of Gombe State, Senator Danjuma Mohammed Goje, was involved in a ghastly road accident that killed an 18-year-old man, Haruna Maigari. Two other persons- Jalo Bappa-Sabo and Umar Adamu- sustained injuries in the accident, which occurred in Tumu village of Akko Local Government Area of Gombe State.
An Investigating Police Officer (IPO), Musa Yakubu Salisu, confirmed to reporters in Tumu village that the Pindiga Police Post reported that the accident occurred on Friday at about 7pm. According to him, "On Friday, around 7.30 pm, we received a call from the police office in Tumu that there was a serious and fatal accident; that our assistance was needed to enable them to take the victims to the hospital." He said when he received the call, he rushed to the hospital in Tumu, and he discovered that the victims were in the Accident and Emergency Ward already receiving treatment.
The policeman said he left the hospital when he saw the victims receiving treatment and that it was from there that the injured persons were referred to the Federal Medical Centre (FMC), Gombe. According to him, based on investigation, Goje came to Tumu to condole with the family of Alhaji Maigari Maimanja, father of Haruna, who lost a sister. Salisu said investigation showed that when the senator's convoy arrived, there was a large crowd around it and when the convoy was leaving, one of the cars crushed Maigari who died in FMC Gombe, while Bappa-Sabo died owing to injuries he sustained on his heads.
The death of Haruna was a double tragedy for Maimanja, who being consoled over the loss of his sister, lost a son while two other children who were critically injured were hospitalised. Eyewitnesses blamed the accident on the usual rough and dangerous manner "big men's" convoys are driven in most parts of the country. The eyewitness who did not want to be named noted that "they drive as if there is insurance against death. They drive at such ungodly speed that you would think the drivers are under some external influence."
The Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) has often campaigned against dangerous driving by drivers in the convoys of top government functionaries. It is the poor adherence to the FRSC caution that has often led to fatalities whenever such convoys are involved in accidents. Many are also worried about the trend where at every movement, top government functionaries and politicians are heralded with a long convoy of cars.
Indeed, the impression is that the longer the convoy, the more important the personality is in the eyes of the public. There is little consideration for the overall economic wastage that goes with such display of vanity. The source queried the wisdom of "taking such a long convoy to a small village, just to pay condolence", asking rhetorically, "Couldn't the man (Senator Goje) have quietly gone to pay his condolence with just a car or two?
Why a long convoy of cars and the accompanying fanfare?" Goje, a former governor of the state, is bound to attract attention; especially in a rural community such as the one the accident took place. That should ordinarily call for greater caution among the drivers in the convoy. The father of the deceased confirmed that Goje visited him to commiserate with him over the death of his sister.
He added that after the evening prayers, Goje left the town at about 7 pm with his convoy, stating that the convoy crushed his son and two others while it was leaving Tumu town. According to him, the police took his son to Tumu cottage hospital from where he was referred to the FMC, Gombe where he died.