Zakari Dantani, father of three-year-old Hajara who was among the nine pupils of the Living Foundation Nursery and Primary School consumed by flood after a heavy downpour in Lafia, the Nasarawa State capital on Wednesday, has recalled with pain, how he discovered that his beloved daughter was dead.
“I was at home close to the school premises when the incident occurred. And when I heard of it, I went there to render assistance only to discover that my daughter was among the several dead bodies. I was indeed, traumatized and almost fainted”, he told Daily Sun weekend, at his residence. Dantani, who alleged that the school authorities was complacent in its reaction towards the incident, called for a probe, more so, as the building was erected on a water way. While reports had indicated that nine pupils perished in the disaster, Dantani introduced a new dimension to the casualty figure, claiming that he was involved in the rescue operation, and counted 13 bodies comprising eight Muslims and five Christians. But the head teacher of the school, Mrs. Theresa James dismissed his claim as false. She said contrary to reports, only four pupils died, and gave names of the deceased as Hajara Zakari, Khadijah Awal Muhammed, Sunday Igube Samuel, and Helen Obioma Nwankwo.
“Contrary to speculations that 13 pupils died, only four died. I have already visited the parents to condole with them over the incident, and by Monday (today), the school authorities will meet to decide on when we shall move to our permanent site at Tudun Kauri in Lafia Municipal Area Council,” she told Daily Sun in an interview in Lafia.
Theresa blamed the incident on illegal structures on the waterways, and appealed to the state government to construct drainage and sewage systems to forestall a recurrence of such disasters. Supervisor of the school, Mr. Ben Ajonu, described the incident as unfortunate. “I was informed of the development on telephone, and I felt sad when I heard it. We are going round to condole with the bereaved families”, he said in a chat with our correspondents.
Meanwhile, the state police command said the incident was being treated as a natural disaster. Deputy spokesman of the command, Cornellius Ocholi remarked on Friday, that efforts were in top gear to ensure the movement of the school to its permanent site to avoid further disaster.