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The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.)

The February 10 deadline for the currency swap announced by the Central Bank of Nigeria has pitted Governors Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna, Yahaya Bello (Kogi) and Bello Matawalle (Zamfara) against 14 political parties which threatened to boycott the February 25 election, should the CBN extend the time limit.

This is as a High Court of the Federal Capital Territory has restrained the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), CBN, its Governor Godwin Emefiele and 27 commercial banks from suspending, stopping, extending or interfering with the currency swap terminal date.

The order was handed down on Monday by Justice E. Enenche following an application by four political parties.

That said, the three governors, who dragged the CBN and the Federal Government to the Supreme Court, were seeking a halt to the full implementation of the naira redesign policy initiated by the apex bank.

No date has been fixed for the hearing of the suit which is coming four days after the governors elected on the platform of the All Progressives Congress met with the President where they complained about the hardship occasioned by the currency policy.

Buhari had asked them to give him seven days to address their complaints, but apparently unimpressed by the President’s pledge, the governors on Monday headed for the Supreme Court to stop the policy.

The applicants in the suit were the Attorneys-General and Commissioners of Justice of Kaduna, Kogi and Zamfara, while the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN, was the sole respondent in the matter.

At a briefing held in Lagos earlier on, the CBN governor had maintained that the apex bank would not extend the deadline for swapping old naira notes with the newly redesigned ones, stating that the CBN and other stakeholders were already addressing areas where there were pressures.

Some prominent Nigerians, including Edo State Governor Godwin Obaseki, the Peoples Democratic Party presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, and his Labour Party counterpart, Peter Obi, Senator Ben Bruce and Accord Party Chairman, Mohammed Nalado supported the CBN policy.

Obaseki endorsed the policy in a post on his official Twitter handle on Monday while Atiku and Obi had argued in separate statements and a Twitter post that the merits of the new naira policy far outweighed the inconveniences Nigerians were experiencing.

But on Sunday, the Governor of Yobe State, Mai Mala Buni, lamented that people in the rural areas in the state were finding it difficult to get the new naira notes

In a Facebook post, he said, “I have ordered the opening of branches of the state-owned microfinance bank in the 17 local government areas of the state to enable the citizens to have access to financial services. As a government, it is our responsibility to look into all possible solutions to help our citizens access financial services. To achieve this, I have directed that the state-owned Yobe Microfinance Bank opens branches in each of the state’s 17 local governments.”

Fashola faults CBN

Speaking as a guest on the Channels Television programme ‘Politics Today’ on Monday, the Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola empathised with Nigerians over the hardship being experienced in obtaining the new naira notes across the country.

According to him, those who initiated the policy should reflect on it and ask themselves whether that was the intent of the policy to cause people pain, advising that the policy should be readjusted.

However, while asserting the rights of the citizens to reasonable notice, the three governors averred that the 10-day extension by the FG was largely insufficient to address the challenges occasioned by the policy adding that “there is no justifiable basis for the ongoing difficulties.”

The three northern states in a motion ex-parte filed on their behalf by their lawyer, Abdul-Hakeem Mustapha, SAN, urged the apex court to grant “an order of interim injunction restraining the Federal Government of Nigeria, either by itself or acting through the Central Bank Nigeria and/ or the commercial banks; its agents; agencies; corporations; ministries; parastatals; organizations or through any person or persons (natural and artificial) howsoever, from suspending or determining or ending on the 10th of February 2023 the timeframe within which the now older versions of the 200, 500 and 1000 denominations of the naira may no longer be legal tender pending the hearing and determination of the plaintiffs/Applicants’ Motion on Notice for interlocutory injunction.”

The plaintiffs also filed a motion on notice to abridge the time within which the respondent may file and serve his counter-affidavit to the suit and an order for an accelerated hearing of the matter.

Specifically, the states were praying for a declaration that the Demonetization Policy of the Federation being currently carried out by the CBN under the directive of the President was not in compliance with the extant provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), CBN Act, 2007 and actual laws on the subject.

They were also asking the court to declare that the three-month notice regarding the expiration of the old notes was in gross violation of the provisions of section 20(3) of the CBN Act, 2007, which specifies that reasonable notice must be given before such a policy.

Given the provisions of section 20(3) of the CBN Act, the governors contended that CBN had no powers to issue a timeline for the acceptance and redeeming of banknotes issued by the apex bank except as limited by section 22(1) of the Act 2007 which stipulates that ‘’the Central Bank shall at all times redeem its bank notes.’’

The applicants prayed the court direct the immediate suspension of the demonetisation policy of the CBN in compliance with the relevant provisions of the law.

Kaduna Attorney-General

The Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice of Kaduna State, Aisha Dikko in an affidavit deposed, in support of the suit stated that most transactions still required cash in exchange for goods and services.

She maintained that the Federal Government should make sufficient money available in circulation for the smooth running of the economy.

 It read in part, “That the majority of the indigenes of the plaintiffs’ states who reside in the rural areas have been unable to exchange or deposit their old naira notes as there are no banks in the rural areas where the majority of the population of the states reside.

“Most people in rural areas of the plaintiffs’ states do not have bank accounts and have so far been unable to deposit their life savings which are still in the old naira notes.

“There is restiveness amongst the people in the various states because of the hardship being suffered by the people, and the situation will sooner than later degenerate into the breakdown of law and order.

“The plaintiff state governments cannot stand by as they are duty-bound to protect citizens in their states and prevent the breakdown of law and order.

“I know that if the Federal Government of Nigeria had given sufficient and reasonable time for the naira redesign policy, all the current hardship and loss being experienced by the plaintiffs’ state governments as well as people in the various states would have been avoided.

“I know that the 10-day extension by the Federal Government is still insufficient to address the challenges bedevilling the policy. I also understand that the Federal Government cannot bar Nigerians from redeeming their old naira notes at any time, even though the senior notes are no longer legal tender.”

Among other reasons, the applicants claimed that the new notes were not made available by the government and that many citizens from the three northern states have not set their eyes on the redesigned notes.

They further argued that there had been an acute shortage of the redesigned notes in Kaduna, Kogi and Zamfara States which has affected commercial activities in the states.

“Despite the assurance of the Federal Government of Nigeria that the new naira notes would be in circulation by mid-December 2022, the new notes were not made available by the government to Nigerians.

“Many citizens of Kaduna, Kogi and Zamfara states have to date not seen the newly redesigned notes let alone exchanged their old notes for the new notes.”

“Since the announcement of the new naira note policy, there has been an acute shortage in the supply of the new naira notes in Kaduna, Kogi and Zamfara states. Citizens who have duly deposited their old naira notes have increasingly found it difficult and sometimes next to impossible to access new naira notes in order to go about their daily activities”.

“This inadequacy of the notice coupled with the haphazard, cack-handed manner the exercise is being carried out and the attendant hardship same is wreaking havoc on Nigerians has not been well acknowledged even by the Federal Government of Nigeria itself”.

“The naira, whether old or new, is scarce. Economic activities are furiously grinding to a halt. The vast quantity of official work time is spent looking for scarce notes and hunger stalks the entire landscape of Kaduna, Kogi and Zamfara states. The states are on the verge of anarchy,’’ the governors submitted.

14 parties

But opposing the moves to extend the deadline for the currency swap, 14 political parties under the aegis of Forum of Chairmen of Nigerian Political Parties and Candidates of the 2023 General Election, said they would back out of the general election if the CBN further extends the February 10 time limit.

The members of the group include governorship, senatorial and House of Representatives as well as House of Assembly candidates.

The Spokesperson for the FCNPPC and chairman of Action Alliance, Kenneth Udeze, who addressed a news conference in Abuja on Monday said both the February 10 deadline for the currency swap and February 25 date for the presidential election remained sacrosanct.

He also alleged that an unidentified group sought the association’s support for a subversive plot to derail the election.

Those who attended the press conference included the National Chairman of the National Rescue Movement, Chief Isaac Udeh; Mohammed Nalado (Accord Party); Alhaji Yusuf Dantalle (Allied Peoples Movement) and Chief Uchenna Nnadi of Action Peoples Party.

Udeze said, “We hereby announce our resolution that at least 14 of the 18 political parties in Nigeria will not be interested in the 2023 general election and indeed we shall withdraw all our participation from the electoral process if the new naira policy is suspended or cancelled or if the deadline is further shifted.

“Having stated our views clearly, we now bring to the notice of the nation and particularly the security agencies that we have intercepted very credible intelligence of a well-financed plot to instigate violent disturbances, incite and provoke civil unrest aimed at undermining the President and causing a shift in the election date or causing his administration to come to an abrupt end.

“We were approached to lend our support, generous promises were made but we believe that Nigeria comes first before any other mundane consideration.

“Painfully, we must state that this voice of dissent is coming from within the political party of the President. Elements of the party that should have been the first to embrace these policies are the party championing the opposition against it.”

He recalled that in the past few days, there have been a lot of interactions among the political party chairmen and the candidates, particularly the presidential candidates on the issues of the new naira notes and cash withdrawal policy of the CBN.

Udeze further stated, “You must have seen some of them issue personal statements and state their personal views. We have all heard the position of the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Waziri Atiku Abubakar and also that of Peter Obi of the Labour Party and it is obvious from their positions that both men see the positives in the policy and have also called for action to ameliorate the current suffering of the Nigerian people visited upon them by some unscrupulous elements in the sector.

“After robust engagements amongst ourselves, we are nearing a consensus and it is my pleasure to announce to you all that the political parties in Nigeria and candidates for election in the 2023 general election support the naira redesign and cash withdrawal limit policy of the Central Bank of Nigeria.

“Except for one major political party which has not given cogent reasons why it insists that the policy must be stopped, a majority of Nigerian political parties and candidates see the immense benefits of the policy.’’

Parties tackle govs

Udeze told The PUNCH that his association would join the suit filed by the three governors.

He said, “Yes, we will join as defendants. We are going to join because we are interested and it affects political parties in Nigeria. We have gotten an order from the court.

‘’It has to do with our intention to stop any authorities from stopping the policy of the CBN on the directive of Mr President. The court granted the motion ex parte.’’

In consolidation of its support for the CBN policy, the Action Alliance, Action Peoples Party, Allied Peoples Movement and the National Rescue Movement have obtained an order restraining the FG, Emefiele, the CBN and 21 commercial banks from halting the policy or extending the February 10 deadline.

In a motion ex parte filed by five political parties, Justice Enenche also granted an order directing the Chief Executives of the banks and their alter egos ‘’to show cause why they should not be arrested and prosecuted for the economic and financial sabotage of the country by their hoarding, withholding, not paying or disbursing the new N200 N500 and N1000 bank notes despite the supply of such notes by the CBN.’’

In the 27 grounds filed by the applicants, they claimed that politicians in possession of illicit funds were the ones who wanted the policies suspended.

Commenting on the case filed by the governors, the Senate spokesperson, Ajibola Basiru said the red chamber was not aware of the matter.

He said, “If the case is already in court, there is nothing we can do and since we are not a party in the case, it is out of our purview.

“We are not even aware of the case until now that you’re informing us. And since we are not joined as a party, it is not our business.”

Basiru implored the executive to prevail on the CBN to release sufficient naira notes to address the hardship caused by the currency scarcity.

“There is no need to take the case to court; the president should do the needful and ensure that the CBN does not truncate the economic life of our people,’’ he pleaded.

In their respective reactions to the litigation, the Presidential Campaign Councils of the PDP and LP said they had yet to meet to discuss the suit filed by the governors.

The spokesman for the Atiku/Okowa Presidential Campaign Organization, Kola Ologbondiyan told one of our correspondents that the council was likely to issue a statement after its meeting.

Reacting to the governors’ action, Minister of State for Labour and Chief Spokesman for Tinubu-Shettima Presidential Campaign Council, Festus Keyamo, stated, ‘’It is not the first time that state governors are dragging the FG to court. They had done it on a number of occasions like in the case of the judiciary autonomy, state House of Assembly issues, economy and other areas.

“It is not left for me to say whether it is justified. But it is part of the democratic culture we promote within our party. The president won’t be offended by it at all. He likes people to head to court to resolve issues.”

The APC Director of Publicity, Bala Ibrahim, noted litigation was an acceptable way to resolve issues.

On his part, the Director-General of the LP Presidential Campaign Council, Akin Oshuntokun noted that the suit was yet to be debated either at the party level or the campaign council.

Meanwhile, the Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom on Monday lent his support to the suit initiated by his colleagues.

The governor who spoke through his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Terver Akase, said, “He (Ortom) is in support of the move (litigation). He said it is the right of every Nigerian to seek the intervention of the court in such a situation.

 “So , he is in support of the three governors that have gone to court and added that if they had sought his consent, he would have asked to be joined.”

In a related development, the Ondo State Government said it was still studying whether to sue the CBN governor over the scarcity of new naira notes.

The state Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr Charles Titiloye said there was nothing wrong with the state governors challenging the action of the CBN over the currency matter, saying the state government would study the matter and take action.

Titiloye said, “We are looking at the brief various options, then we became aware that some states have gone to court. We will avail the various options but we’ll get back to you after we have taken decisions on what to do.’’

Speaking in the same tone, the Special Adviser, Media and Publicity, to the Cross River governor, Christian Ita, disclosed that Governor Ben Ayade was not happy with the way the currency redesign policy was being handled.

He stated that Ayade was appalled by the suffering Nigerians were being subjected to.

But the Kano State Governor, Umar Ganduje, said the implementation of the naira swap policy was carried out by the CBN governor in retaliation for his failure to clinch the APC presidential ticket.

Ganduje made the disclosure at a campaign rally, held at Tsanyawa, on Sunday, where he presented the APC governorship candidate and his deputy, alongside Senatorial and other candidates to the people.

According to a statement, issued by the Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Abba Anwar, the governor emphasized that: “The CBN governor is only doing this to cause confusion in the forthcoming elections over unjustifiable reason.”

Ganduje categorically stated that the Kano state government and the APC in the state were totally against the action of the CBN governor.

In Oyo State, the APC postponed the presidential rally earlier scheduled to hold today (Tuesday) at Mapo Hall in Ibadan, the state capital because of fuel and new naira notes crises.

The APC state Publicity Secretary, Olawale Sadare, in a telephone conversation, said the decision was taken by Governor Simon Lalong-led Presidential Campaign Council in view of the mood of the nation.

He regretted that “since the crisis occasioned by the fuel scarcity and Federal government’s cashless policy implementation as well as local currency redesigning.

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The Appeal Court sitting in Abuja on Friday set aside the judgement of the Osun State Election Petition Tribunal that annulled the victory of Ademola Adeleke of the Peoples Democratic Party during the July 16, 2022, Osun State governorship election.

The Osun tribunal had annulled Adeleke’s victory and affirmed Gboyega Oyetola of All Progressives Congress as the authentic winner of the poll.

The PUNCH reports that the Independent National Electoral Commission had returned Adeleke as the winner of the poll.

INEC said Adeleke polled 403,371 votes to defeat then-incumbent Governor Adegboyega Oyetola of the APC, who got 375,027 votes

But Oyetola and the APC rejected the result of the poll and headed for the tribunal.

In its January 27, 2023 majority verdict, the Justice Tertse Kume-led tribunal annulled Adeleke’s victory and declared Oyetola the winner of the poll.

However, a minority judgment by Justice B. Ogbuli affirmed Adeleke as the winner of the poll.

Displeased, Adeleke and the PDP headed for the Court of Appeal.

The Court of Appeal heard the appeal on March 13 and reserved its judgment.

But the court of Appeal on Friday set aside the tribunal judgement.

Meanwhile, the court proceeded on five minutes break and will deliver its final judgement after it reconvenes.

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Health & lifestyle




The World Health Organisation said Nigeria had significantly increased its national Tuberculosis case finding by 50 percent in 2021 using innovative approaches.

The WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, made this known in her message in commemoration of World TB Day.

World TB Day is marked yearly on March 24 to raise public awareness about the devastating health, social and economic consequences of this preventable disease and call for accelerated action to end it.

This year’s theme, ‘Yes, we can end TB’, highlights the need to ensure equitable access to prevention and care, in line with the drive towards Universal Health Coverage and Sustainable Development Goals.

Dr. Moeti said it was important to find and diagnose cases of TB so that the patients can be treated, and their contacts offered preventive medication.

“Nigeria is an example of a country that managed to significantly increase national TB case finding by 50 percent in 2021 using innovative approaches such as the expansion of the daily observed treatment protocols, use of digital technologies, Community Active Case Finding, and enlisting Public Private Mix initiatives.

“TB requires concerted action by all sectors: from communities and businesses to governments, civil society, and others,” she said in a press statement.

She said the African Region was on the threshold of reaching a 35 percent TB death reduction as there had been a 26 percent reduction in TB deaths between 2015 and 2021.

“Seven countries — Eswatini, Kenya, Mozambique, South Soudan, Togo, Uganda, and Zambia—have reached a 35 percent reduction in deaths since 2015,” she noted.

She, however, decried the challenges in TB prevention and control.

Old TB vaccine works better when injected into a vein —Researchers

“First, the delayed diagnosis and testing. There is still a notable gap between the estimated number of new infections and case notifications of TB: 40 percent of people living with TB did not know of their diagnosis or it was not reported in 2021. One million people are living with TB in the region and have not been detected.

“Second, the link between TB and HIV. Approximately 20 percent of people newly diagnosed with TB are also living with HIV infection.

“Third, the multi-drug resistant TB. In the African region, only 26 percent of all people living with multi-drug resistance are receiving the appropriate treatment.”

Meanwhile, she hailed the member states for the increasing uptake of new tools and guidance recommended by WHO, resulting in early access to TB prevention and care, and better outcomes.

“In the African Region, the use of rapid diagnostic testing has increased from 34 percent in 2020 to 43 percent in 2021, which will improve countries’ ability to detect and diagnose new cases of the disease.

“We must work together to develop innovative approaches to reach vulnerable populations and ensure that they have access to quality TB care and management.

“The second UN High-level Meeting on TB in September 2023 will provide a rare opportunity to give global visibility to the disease and mobilize high-level political commitment to end TB.

“Ending TB is feasible with the decline in TB deaths and cases, and the elimination of economic and social burdens associated with it.

“Especially today, I urge leaders, governments, partners, communities, and all stakeholders to urgently foster the resilient health systems required to accelerate the TB response so that we can reach the Sustainable Development Goals targets by 2030. Yes, we can end TB in our lifetime,” she added.

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“This life is not fair,” said a wailing woman, as victims of the recent tragic Lagos train-bus accident at the Public Works Department (PWD) Busstop along Agege Motor Road, Lagos, were moved to a triage at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH), Ikeja on Thursday, March 9, 2023.



It was a moment of pain and agony for the families of those who didn’t survive and 79 other victims who suffered severe injuries and had their plans either cut short or altered.

There is the 28-year-old Juliana Aina Oreoluwa, a youth corps member with Lagos State Ministry of Education, who was to finish her service in May 2023, who died with her dreams of pursuing her master’s degree abroad, while 59-year-old Ganiyat Salawudeen, who worked with the Ministry of Finance, the State Treasury Department, on her part would have retired in January 2024.

Lamenting his daughter’s demise, Femi Aina, father of Oreoluwa, said: “I used to tell her that she took the job like she was already a staff member of the state government. She was a very nice girl with visions and ambitions.

“She was preparing to go to the United Kingdom for her master’s programme after her youth service in May, but unfortunately, all her plans had been dashed.”

The incident occurred barely two months after residents of Chikakore, Byazhin, in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), watched helplessly as an oncoming train crushed to death, a middle-aged woman, whose name was given as Hajia Selimat Idowu, along rail track.

The late Idowu, according to eyewitness account, was trying to cross the rail track, the only access road in and out of the community, when the accident occurred.

It was said that her vehicle got stuck and sadly, the train rammed into the car, killing her on the spot.

IN the last few years, it has been a catalogue of mishaps on rail tracks. After the COVID-19 lockdown in 2020, an accident involving a moving train, a bus and a Toyota Sports Utility Van (SUV) happened near the Nigerian Army Shopping Arena in Oshodi.

In the SUV were a trader and his son, who parked beside the tracks, waiting to enter Oshodi Shopping Complex, Arena, for business.

Unknown to him, metres away from the parking spot, a train had collided with a bus and was dragging it along the tracks. Unfortunately, before the man could move his car to a safe distance, the train had hit it and carried it along the bus and SUV on the tracks before coming to a complete stop. The trader lost his life, and his son was seriously injured in the accident.

Also, on January 10, 2019, at the Ashade railway crossing around Agege-Ikeja, Lagos, a train skidded off its tracks, killing one person and leaving others injured. The railway corporation responded almost immediately to re-rail the train and repaired the track, but if regular maintenance had been carried out in the first place, that accident could have been avoided in the first place.

In March 2018, also around Ikeja, a National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) member, Nneka Odili, on her way back from the Secretariat, lost her life in a train accident.

The young lady was walking on the rail track with her headphones plugged in and couldn’t hear the horns from the approaching train. She didn’t survive the injuries sustained in the accident.

WHILE it is worrisome that precious lives are being lost due to what experts term negligence on the part of those saddled with safety responsibilities, train accidents have raised the need for a complete overhaul of rail transportation in the country.

According to a 2023 survey by, in 2018 alone, over 500 train accidents were recorded in the country. Of these numbers, loss of control/locomotive failure, accounted for 222 cases, detachment- 113, derailment-101, miscellaneous-36, wash out-32, collision-12, with broken rail/damage on track, accounting for seven cases.

Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Institute for Industrial Security and a security expert, Dr. Wilson Esangbedo, pointed to reasons such incidents occur despite warnings and caution signs displayed along rail tracks.

Sanwo-Olu visit

According to him, a change in value orientation is central to preventing these avoidable train mishaps. “We need to start changing our orientation to driving and understanding how the rail tracks work and know when a train is too close to a car on a rail track, there is a magnetic effect which affects the movement of the vehicle.

“The railway corporation needs to build proper demarcation to protect vehicles and pedestrians crossing the railway. There should be more publicity on safety precautions at the railway intersection.

“Government has not done enough and Nigerians should approach railway intersections with caution to remain safe,” Esangbedo said.

Former chairman of Apapa Branch of Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE), Ombugadu Maikasuwa Garba, said the recurring train accidents in Nigeria has proven that there is need for a state of emergency in the sector.

He said: “It is very worrisome that precious lives are lost owing to negligence of those saddled with such responsibilities.”

According to him, “train tracks should be routed away from human/vehicular interference to reduce accidents, especially in areas where human activities and vehicular crossing is frequent.”

He also said: “Train tracks should be properly barricaded to prevent unnecessary human and vehicular interaction. This will ensure restrictions of movement along the corridor.

“Further more, in the event of train tracks on roads, electrically controlled barriers manned by competent personnel should be installed appropriately to prevent the entry of humans and vehicles when a train is passing.

“It is the responsibility of NRC to ensure that the needful is done appropriately. The state ministry of transportation and states where they have State Safety Agencies (such as the Lagos State Safety Commission —- LASSCOM) and engineering bodies should be alive to their duties so as to ensure safety of life and property.”

Also, former National Chairman, Nigerian Institution of Highways Transportation Engineers, Dayo Oluyemi, said ideally the intersection between a rail line and a roadway should be a grade-separated intersection.

“However, for economic reasons, we have them usually on same level in Nigeria. Drivers, who often are in a hurry to pass through the junction, usually cause the accidents. If our drivers are disciplined, we will not have these accidents.

“Auto controlled gates are required to be provided at sections where the roadway is intersecting a rail line at the same level,” he said.

For Ibrahim Aledu, a fellow of Nigerian Institution of Mechanical Engineers and Apapa Inspectorate Chief of Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria and Engineering Regulation and Monitoring, the long neglect of the sector has made Nigerians forget the existence of rail transportation.

For the Chief Executive Officer Bethlehem Rail, London, Mr. Roland Ataguba, there is enough blame to go round, though it appeared that the bus driver was primarily at fault.

He pointed out that between Ebute Metta Junction and Agbado, there will be the Lagos-Ibadan standard Guage rail, Lagos-Kano NGR and the Red line LRMT.

“So, how can anyone fathom that level crossings could be appropriate in that corridor?” He wondered.

According to him, level crossings are an accident black spot and Lagos needs total grade separation and the right of way fenced all through otherwise, they should prepare for more of the same as traffic grows.

Ataguba said: “The strategic issues are that a private operator would think differently and act proactively to preempt and mitigate losses. Unfortunately, the sloppy civil service culture of the NRC ensures we are reactive, and no one is held accountable.”

Chief Executive Officer, West Atlantic Cold-Chain and Commodities Limited, Henrii Nwanguma, said since rail is still being reintroduced, provisions must be made for such, because elsewhere, more mature industry exists, there are still incidents and accidents.

Former Dean of the School of Transport and Logistics, Lagos State University (LASU), Prof. Samuel Odewumi, said there are normally different types of rail crossing barricades. It could be human, mechanical or electrical. The one in place at the time of the accident was human.

Late Oreoluwa

According to Odewumi, witnesses on site testified that there was a man waiving a red flag for vehicles to stop. While others obeyed, the bus driver refused and the train ran into it. From the railway authorities, there was a physical barrier, but was removed because of the ongoing construction work at the site. The construction is for total separation of rail and road by making an overpass for the road.

“We hope it will be a wakeup call, especially, since it occurred not so long after the fatal Abuja crossing accident. There must be reawakening from all the stakeholders. There must be continuous enlightenment and education. Let the media, especially radio and television, dedicate some air time for this,” he said.

On what plans Lagos State has to ensure that rail tracks are shielded from pedestrians, vehicles and other straying bodies to ensure safety of lives and property, the Managing Director and CEO of the Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (LAMATA), Mrs. Abimbola Akinajo, said from their Strategic Transport Master Plan (STMP), they have six rail lines, and one monorail.

She said: “We are currently implementing two of the lines – Blue and Red. On the Blue Line (Marina to Okokomaiko), there will not be any interaction between train and vehicular traffic. From Orile to Okokomaiko, the train system will sit in the middle of the Lagos Badagry Expressway with no interaction at all with vehicular traffic. The entire corridor will also be fenced off with a palisade fence, made of steel pales, which are attached to horizontal rails connected to sturdy vertical joists or ‘posts’.

“On the Red line, we are sharing tracks with the Federal Government through the NRC. The NRC currently has fenced off the rail corridor. All authorised level crossings are to be closed and replaced with overpass bridges, or flyover to eliminate interaction between vehicular and train traffic. There are 10 authorised level crossings between Agbado and Oyingbo. They are at Jonathan Coker (Fagba), Pen Cinema, Asade, Ikeja, PWD, llupeju bypass. Ogunmokun (Mushin), Fadeyi, Yaba and Oyingbo.

“Lagos State was tasked to construct five and Federal Government to be responsible for the remaining five. Lagos State government has completed the Pen Cinema section with the construction of the Pen Cinema flyover bridge. The other four are located at Ikeja, Ogunmokun (Mushin). Yaba, and Oyingbo are at about 90-95per cent completion.

“The Federal Government is expected to begin the construction of its sections of four overpass bridges having completed the Asade flyover. The four are Jonathan Coker (Fagba), PWD, Ilupeju bypass and Fadeyi.

“However, we plan to work with the Federal Ministry of Transport through the NRC to put temporary barriers at level crossings, where construction of Overpass Bridge is yet to start when we commence operation shortly due to the fact that rail traffic will increase along the corridor.”

Speaking with The Guardian, Managing Director, NRC, Fidelis Okhiria, cautioned motorists to be more careful, while driving on railroads.

Okhiria said modernisation has taken care of the barriers, adding that there should not be rail and road crossing. “We have about 11 overhead bridges that will turn from, and there will be an overpass. There is going to be an overhead bridge at the PWD crossing.”

He said: “You can see that government is putting barriers first, but because there is what we call the level crossing, which at the time the government has developed a policy on modernisation, we had to have separate grades.

The late Salawudeen

“I mean the road and rail will somehow not cross their path. That is what you see at Agege, after Agege, you see the underpass coming from Guinness, same thing you can see construction going on in Oyingbo and Yaba trying to separate the road, but it’s going to be at Jibowu, we cannot do all at the same time not to cause too much traffic jam. However, before this is done, what we have resorted to is a little bit of using communication and human.

“When a train leaves the next station, we inform all the level crossing keepers who happen to man where the road and rail intersect. By doing so, they inform the men there and before the train gets there, they will ensure the road is clear from the rail, and that is what happened that fateful day. All the road vehicles had been stopped, but this bus came from nowhere and the train came and there was a collision.

A crushed vehicle in Kubwa

“Five years back, we developed light and alarm so that when the train is getting close by, an alarm will be raised. This was also vandalised. We did that four times consecutively but were still vandalised. So we now have phones to communicate and make sure that our men are there at the level crossing.

“What people don’t know is that it is not the responsibility of the rail to keep the level crossing, by international standards the rail always have the right of way because it is a permanent way, everybody is expected to know that there is a rail track there and train don’t shift position unlike the road that you turn the steering you don’t have a steering that you turn on the rail, it is the tracks that directs the rail.”

Speaking on why the country is lagging in terms of attaining respectable global standards in rail service, he said: “It is just the level that we have found ourselves. All these things happen in America. Even in India, it is still happening, and China is happening. All we have to do is to change our attitudes and our ways.”

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