Death Toll In Gombe Petrol Tanker Explosion Rises To 16

The number of those killed in a petrol tanker explosion in Gombe State has risen to 16.

The Assistant Director of Nurses at the Federal Teaching Hospital, Gombe, Musa Gyade, confirmed this to Channels Television on Sunday.

Eleven people were initially confirmed dead with several others injured on Saturday after the tanker exploded along the Gombe-Biu bypass.

The tanker, said to be laden with petrol, was said to have had a brake failure and rammed into a truck loaded with bottled water, crushing two motorcycles and two tricycles in the process.

Giving an update on the incident, Gyade disclosed that 20 other victims sustained various degrees of burns.

He, however, said they were already receiving medical attention at both the Federal Teaching Hospital and the State Specialist Hospital in Gombe.

The assistant director explained that 23 people were brought to the hospital, out of which three of them died while being treated and two more deaths were later recorded.

Elsewhere, the Medical Director of the State Specialist Hospital, Dr Shu’aibu Mu’azu, told Channels Television that 11 bodies were brought to the hospital.

He added that four of them were recognised and handed over to their relatives, but no one has come to claim the remaining seven bodies as they were burnt beyond recognition.

Lagos 820 Medium And High Capacity Buses To Begin Operation

The Lagos State Government is set to roll out 820 medium and high capacity buses under its public transportation Bus Reform Initiative to meet the yearnings of its citizenry.

The State Commissioner for Transportation, Mr. Ladi Lawanson, who disclosed this today at the Secretariat, Alausa, noted that the deployment of the new buses will address the inadequacies of the present unreliable transportation system in Lagos metropolis.

According to him, the State Government designed the Bus Reform Project to correct the many challenges inherent in the present system, through the replacement of yellow mini-buses with air-conditioned vehicles of uniform specification, predictable bus schedules, and routes supported by appropriate infrastructure.

Lawanson recalled the first implementation of the bus reforms which began with the construction and commissioning of the Ikeja Bus Terminal by President Muhammadu Buhari, followed by the completion of other terminals at Yaba, Oyingbo, Ojota, Agege, and Ajah as well as the Oshodi Transport Interchange masterpiece to be unveiled by the President before the end of the administration’s tenure on May 29.

He maintained that the Bus Reform Project which will be technology driven will ensure seamless integration of transport modes and passenger movement through 23 routes for efficiency and effectiveness that will restore the confidence of Lagosians in the use of public transport facilities.

Explaining further, Lawanson said 75 of the 100 bus shelters earmarked for the first phase of the Bus Reform project have been completed to support the operations of the buses.

Allaying fears that the existing transport unions members will be sent into labour market, Lawanson stated that 800 of the buses will be released to private operators through the operating lease model which has incorporated the current road transport operators – National Union of Road Transport Workers, (NURTW) and the Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria (RTEAN) – as part of the Bus Operating Companies.

While congratulating Lagosians for being part of the laudable project aimed at ensuring a better life for all, Lawanson urged citizens to take ownership of the project by guiding against misuse and vandalisation when the buses commence operations.

Buhari leaves for UAE to attend investment meeting

President Muhammadu Buhari will depart Amman, on Sunday for Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE) to participate in the ninth edition of the Annual Investment Meeting, April 8-10, 2019.

President Buhari was invited by His Highness, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rachid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice-President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, as a Guest of Honour at the investment meeting. He is expected to deliver the keynote address on the theme, “Mapping the Future of Foreign Direct Investment: Enriching World Economies through Digital Globalization.”

According to the organisers, the meeting is “the largest gathering of corporate leaders, policymakers, businessmen, regional and international investors, entrepreneurs, leading academics and experts showcasing up-to-date information, strategies and knowledge on attracting FDI.”

The meeting also seeks to explore investment opportunities in more than 140 countries, connect businesses and countries willing to engage in sustainable partnerships with investors. The President may also get briefing by the authorities of UAE on the alleged involvement of five Nigerians in robbery incident on bureau de change.

Ukraine election: A unique village laments its historical divide

“We lived together before, it was better. And then they wanted to go to Europe, damn it,” he says angrily and starts to pace around in the muddy path that is supposed to be pavement.

“Gas got more expensive, other amenities got more expensive. There is no work, there is no perspective for improvement and probably there will be none with our president, Petro Poroshenko. Maybe if they choose a different one [president], the militarisation will stop.”

Ukraine’s presidential elections are scheduled for March 31 with a record number of candidates vying to become the war-torn country’s sixth president.

According to opinion polls, Poroshenko is trailing in third spot behind opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko and the front-runner, a comedian, Volodymyr Zelensky.

Political novice Zelensky’s stronghold is Ukraine’s Russian-speaking areas such as Milove.

After Ukraine became independent, Milove residents continued their intertwined borderless lives until Crimea was annexed [Oksana Parafeniuk/Al Jazeera]
‘Messed up Milove’
Many residents of Milove are wary of naming the candidate they intend to vote for, but all of those who choose to share the information with Al Jazeera support Zelensky.

Even Oleksandr Tsygalo, who works in a campaign booth for Poroshenko distributing election material every day, says he will not vote for the current president.

“Look at the [pot-holed] roads in Milove. Does it seem like something was done for the town over the last five years?” he says.

Irina Sobaleva, a 50-year-old shop assistant, says: “I am not sure who to vote for but I will for sure not give my support to Poroshenko. He messed up Milove enough. For him, Milove does not exist.”

Brus, who might have to commute back from Russia specially to cast his ballot on Sunday, says he will also risk giving power to the inexperienced candidate rather than support the top two corruption-tainted political heavyweights.

“It’s my first time so I guess I will go and vote. I think I will vote for Zelensky, since I don’t even want to think about Poroshenko. We are fed up with Tymoshenko as well.”

Kerosene tanker kills 20 in Onitsha

No fewer than 20 people were, yesterday afternoon, crushed to death by a tanker laden with kerosene at Upper Iweka Onitsha, Anambra State, with scores reportedly injured. Also yesterday, six people were crushed at Ibughubu Market, Umuchu, in Aguata local government area of the state in an accident involving a truck loaded with cement and a lorry with property worth millions of naira destroyed.

According to an eye witness, the kerosene tanker driver drove through the service lane at Upper Iweka Onitsha where he reportedly lost control around Adam and Eve Motors and crushed many traders and vehicles in the process.

It was hectic time for emergency respondents, the Police, Federal Road Safety Corps, Onitsha and Anambra State Traffic Agency and Willie’s Work Force, WWF, to evacuate dead victims and those with injuries, including the affected vehicles from the road.

Eyewitnesses said the victims might be more considering the distance where the tanker lost control and where it was halted as many people and vehicles were dragged while descending the ever busy Service Lane at Upper Iweka where over forty different transport companies are located.

Many body parts and blood of the victims were seen along the road the tanker drove through before it finally stopped at the public toilet building located at Upper Iweka.

A Toyota Siena belonging to Onitsha South Transport Company that was discharging passengers on arrival from Enugu was one of the vehicles crushed with the passengers.

The State Chairman of the Nigerian Red Cross Society, NRCS, Prof. Peter Katchy, speaking with newsmen at the scene, disclosed that the bodies of the deceased persons had been deposited at a hospital morgue, while three persons, who sustained serious injuries, were rushed to Pieta Specialist Hospital and Toronto Hospital. Katchy added that one of the dead persons in his 30s lost his head completely and was lying headless at the compound of the hospital.

However, at about 5.58p.m., when BENGBENRO NEWS visited Toronto Hospital, more than 200 sympathisers were gathered in the compound, trying to catch a glimpse of the dead and survived victims. Doctors and nurses in the hospital were busy running round to save the lives of the surviving victims.

Medical Director of Toronto Hospital, Prince Emeka Eze, who was away in the United Kingdom, UK, was also heard instructing the doctors and nurses not to ask for any deposit from the victims, but to save lives first. He also ordered for immediate blood transfusion for the surviving victims who may have lost blood in the accident.

Matron of the hospital, Ijeoma Ogegbulam, while speaking with BENGBENRO NEWS, said 10 people were deposited in the hospital morgue, and out of the ten, two died at the emergency theatre due to excessive loss of blood, while eight died at the scene of the accident before they were brought to the hospital.

Ogomegbulam said seven surviving victims, four female and three male are currently on admission in the hospital, adding that their chances of survival were very bright. When BENGBENRO NEWS called the Police Public Relations Officer, Anambra State Police Command, Mr. Mohammed Haruna, at about 6.20p.m. yesterday, his phone indicated that it was switched off.

The DPO of Central Police Station, Onitsha, Mr. Ifeanyi Ibru was too exhausted to speak to newsmen when he was approached for comment at the scene and at Toronto Hospital when he led his men to visit the survivors of the accident. … 6 at Ibughubu Also yesterday, the accident involving a truck loaded with cement and a lorry at Ibughubu Market, Umuchu, in Aguata local government area of Anambra State reportedly claimed the lives of six people with property worth millions of naira destroyed. It was gathered that the drivers of the vehicles died in the accident alongside four other persons, while scores of people, mainly traders and a conductor of one of the vehicles sustained various degrees of injury.

One of the victims was Mr Aaron Ononuju, 65 years from Umuchu. An eyewitness, Mr Joshua Agbasiri told BENGBENRO NEWS that the two trucks collided before they rammed into the market stalls, causing pandemonium in the area. “The truck carrying cement was in a high speed and apparently due to brake failure, it pushed the tipper to the opposite side of the market where it destroyed shops and inflicted injuries on some shop owners,” he said.

The chairman of Ubughubu Village, Mr Titus Ike, said three shops belonging to one Okwudili Egbobuike and Nonso Ezekwelu, were most affected. He said: “Nonso’s shop was worse because he and his mother became victims.

There are other people I don’t have their details because I have not been to the hospital where the bodies were deposited. “We are going to install speed breaker on this road because we are tired of this re-occurring accidents. This place is a valley, especially the market area. “We don’t want people killed again. Two years ago, we lost nine persons. We lost two students two months ago and we just lost three today.”

Free visa for election observers

As Nigerians go to the polls for the presidential and national assembly contest, the Federal Government has approved visa fee waiver for accredited observers and monitors of the elections.

The Comptroller-General Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), Mr Muhammad Babandede, said in a statement in Abuja.

He said that the waiver was sequel to the re-scheduling of the general elections to Saturday for Presidential and National Assembly, from Feb. 16, and March 9 for Governorship and House of Assembly, from March 2.

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) gave logistics and operational problems as reasons for shifting the polls.

Babandede said that waiver was in consideration of the plight of accredited observers and monitors who were caught-up by the re-scheduled elections.

He urged all affected individuals and organisations wishing to extend their stay or travel back to their countries and return for the next elections to visit NIS Visa Desk at INEC Headquarters.

“The desk officers will attend to those requiring extension of their visas issued Gratis (No Fee Charge).

“This provision became necessary to afford those affected, the opportunity to travel out or return without violating the immigration provisions that relates to entry and exit with valid visa and document.”.

Tension in Ondo as Lassa fever claims over 50 lives, residents, health workers panic

With over 50 deaths recorded in Ondo state as a result of Lassa fever outbreak, residents, as well as medical practitioners, are in panicky mood.

The endemic disease which BENGBENRO gathered has been ravaging the state for the past weeks has found its way into Akure, the Ondo State capital after cases were earlier reported in the border towns of the northern senatorial district area of the state.

According to some sources at the Federal Medical Center, FMC, Owo, where victims were being taken to for treatment, the present the state government is not doing anything as expected at curbing the deadly disease.

Stating that the situation is going beyond control, a medical practitioner at the FMC, Owo disclosed that at the “isolation ward” of the hospital where patients of such outbreaks are treated, bed spaces are no longer available.

The medical practitioner who craved for anonymity, further confirmed to BENGBENRO that the medical facility is currently battling what she described as negligence from the part of some of her colleagues as a Lassa fever patient who was under observation “mysteriously” escaped from the hospital.

“What we currently facing, is quite beyond what anyone would ever imagine.

“Almost all the patients in the isolation ward are those that have contracted Lassa fever and most of the reported cases are from the border communities within Ose Local Government area of the state.

“It’s quite sad how the state government is not even attending to the situation.

“Citizens are dying from preventable disease, but the government is not showing any concern at all.”

Also, a source at the state’s Ministry of Health who requested that he should not be named being a civil servant, disclosed that the situation is such a terrible one that a state of emergency ought to have been declared within the state health sector.

The medical doctor in the ministry berated the state governor, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu for allowing the situation to deteriorate to its present level, due to what he described as lackadaisical attitude on the part of the governor.

“From the ministry here, we have approached the governor, on the need to urgently arrest the situation but he his not seeing it that way.

“He claims there are no funds to spend on the medical needs of these people (Lassa fever patient) but let’s be frank with ourselves, all those money being spent on political activities in the state, where are they coming from?

“I believe it is high time our political leaders started to set their priorities right. Because in the real sense of it, it’s those that will vote for them that are dying so cheaply.

“You won’t believe that as terrible as the situation is at present, there’s no single sensitization or awareness going on in the state as regards the outbreak, all in the name of that there is no fund.

“Even for the outbreak to effectively contained, schools within the affected communities should have been shut with intensive awareness taken to market places, churches, mosques and other public places.

“It will interest you to know that health workers might down tools if anyone of us is affected.

Meanwhile, the state Commissioner for Health, Dr Wahab Adegbenro emphasized that the situation calls for a combined effort of stakeholders as the state cannot bear the burden alone.

Dr. Adegbenro disclosed that the treatment of a Lassa patient costs at least N1.2m, which he said was beyond what the State Government alone can handle considering the number of people infected.

While calling on Chairmen of affected Local Government Areas in the state, Security Agencies, Development Partners and other stakeholders to brainstorm and come up with strategies that would help tackle the disease.

Also the State’s Epidemiologist, Dr. Stephen Fagbemi said there is a war against Lassa Fever and the state should be in a war mood.

He recalled that about 27 States were affected with Lassa fever last year and Ondo and Edo topped the list as they accounted for about 80% of those affected including mortality.

Dr Olalekan Ojo of the Federal Medical Center Owo said the State was witnessing more Lassa patients than any other states of the federation ”and the whole budget of the state cannot handle”

He added that the Federal Medical Center Owo was overwhelmed due to lack of sufficient manpower to cope.

How PDP abandoned seven major projects in Osun – Fashola

The Minister of Works, Power and Housing, Mr.Babatunde Fashola, on Wednesday said seven Federal Government projects, totalling N18.186bn were abandoned in Osun State by Peoples Democratic Party, PDP-led Federal Government.

He mentioned Gbongan-Iwo road, Ilesha-Osogbo road, Construction of Illie bridge, Ile-ife-Ifewara road, and Mayfair-Lagere road among others as some of the abandoned projects with attendant socioeconomic predicament for the affected communities.

Fashola, who was represented by the Federal Controller of Works in Osun State, Engineer Ezekiah Kehinde on Media inspection tour of all the Federal Government projects in the state hinted that the Buhari administration became worry over the development upon assumption of office in 2015.

He explained that contractors handling those projects had complained of paucity of funds to continue with the projects as a result of failure of the previous administration to pay them.

“The rate at which several important projects were abandoned in the state became a source of worry for this administration upon assumption of office, hence the urgent need for prompt intervention.

“The Federal Government considered those projects as fundamental for the socioeconomic survival of the people in those areas. Which informed the urgency in which those contractors were brought back to site and outstanding debts were cleared.

“Also, four more projects were added, totalling N8.45bn, which include the construction of Ila-Ora-Ekanmeje road, and emergency intervention at Ibodi-Ilesha road among others.

“It would have amount to waste of resources and insensitivity on the part of government if those projects were left there abandoned, after spending several billions to mobilise contractors to site.

“I can authoritatively tell you now that the Federal Government is not owing any contractor a dime any longer,” he said.

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Top Talking Points of EPL over the weekend

Tottenham Hotspur’s English striker Harry Kane (L) vies with Manchester United’s Serbian midfielder Nemanja Matic (R) during the English Premier League football match between Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United at Wembley Stadium in London, on January 13, 2019.

Premier League leaders Liverpool showed they can scrap their way to victory, edging past Brighton to maintain their four-point lead over Manchester City, who brushed aside 10-man Wolves with a 3-0 win.

Tottenham lost ground on the Premier League pacesetters after being beaten at home by a rejuvenated Manchester United, who won their fifth straight league game under interim manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

Chelsea ground out a win against Newcastle but Arsenal’s long unbeaten run is a fading memory after they slipped to defeat against West Ham.

Jesus goal glut
Gabriel Jesus has scored seven goals in just nine days after his double in their stroll against Wolves, a huge confidence boost for a player who has struggled to make an impact at Manchester City this season.

The first of the 21-year-old’s strikes came in a 7-0 hammering of Rotherham in the FA Cup and he netted four against lowly Burton in last week’s 9-0 thrashing in the League Cup semi-final first leg before scoring the first two against Wolves in a 3-0 victory. He has turned up the pressure on Sergio Aguero, which will be music to coach Pep Guardiola’s ears.

Liverpool bounce back at Brighton
Jurgen Klopp’s men bounced back from their first league defeat of the season — against Manchester City — with a hard-earned 1-0 win at Brighton earned thanks to Mohamed Salah’s penalty early in the second half.

The Liverpool manager admitted afterwards that his side’s performance “wasn’t an opera, but still it was a nice song”. The league leaders dominated possession but rarely had the speed of foot or thought to trouble the Seagulls’ massed defence until Salah created some space for himself inside the area before being pulled down by Pascal Gross.

Klopp hailed the new-found maturity of his side in comfortably seeing the game out with their 13th clean sheet in 22 Premier League matches. Liverpool are seeking to end an agonising 29-year wait for the league title and it is often unremarkable wins like this that are the mark of champions.

Does Lukaku have a future under Solskjaer?
Romelu Lukaku has scored three times since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer arrived at Old Trafford as interim manager but has yet to start under the Norwegian in the Premier League.

Fleet-footed Marcus Rashford is clearly Solskjaer’s first-choice striker and on Sunday he justified his manager’s faith by scoring the winner in a 1-0 victory against Tottenham.

Former United defender Gary Neville, now a pundit for Sky Sports, does not believe Lukaku offers the pace or movement that Rashford, Paul Pogba, Anthony Martial and Jesse Lingard do. It is early days in Solskjaer’s reign but the Belgium number nine will be wondering where he fits in to his new manager’s plans.

Rice on the boil
Declan Rice gave himself an early present ahead of his 20th birthday by scoring his first Premier League goal as West Ham beat Arsenal 1-0.

Hammers manager Manuel Pellegrini lauded the youngster, who can play in either defence or midfield, as a “complete” player. Two questions loom large for Rice, over his best position — holding midfielder or defender? — and to which country he will pledge his allegiance.

He played in three internationals for Ireland last year but as they were all friendlies London-born Rice has the option to represent England.

Sarri’s wake-up call
As the jeers rose to a crescendo around Stamford Bridge, Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri stood stern-faced on the touchline.

If the Italian manager was feeling the heat after that frustrated reaction from Chelsea’s fans to another spluttering attacking display during their 2-1 win over lowly Newcastle then he did not let it show.

In fact, Sarri might have been tempted to join the chorus of disapproval, judging by his scathing post-match assessment. Chelsea remain fourth but the manager is clearly unhappy with the way his team are struggling to break down opponents at home.

He urged them to change their mentality after claiming they had “slept” for 25 minutes against Newcastle. Sarri must quickly find a remedy for their dozy displays.

EPL: Mark Lawrenson predicts results of West Ham vs Arsenal, Chelsea vs Newcastle, others

Liverpool legend, Mark Lawrenson has predicted Arsenal to defeat West Ham United on Saturday afternoon in the Premier League fixture at the London Stadium.

He also tipped Chelsea to beat Newcastle United in tonight’s Premier League fixture.

According to Lawrenson, Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool will play a draw with Brighton and Hove Albion in the Premier League on Saturday evening.

“In the Premier League, the Hammers’ form has been very up and down in recent weeks, but the same could be said about the Gunners,” Lawrenson told BBC Sport.

“I am going for an Arsenal win here, but it is clear that Unai Emery still has a lot of work to do.

“He has only been in charge for half a season and I think that, when they come up against the top teams, the same problems still remain.

“The main issue is at the back. Would I back them defensively? No, absolutely not. Too many of their defenders are not Champions League level, which is the standard they need them to be at.

“Both of these sides are safely into the next round of the FA Cup after beating lower league sides – I was at Blackpool for BBC Radio 5 live to see Arsenal cruise through.”

Commenting on the Chelsea vs Newcastle game, Lawrenson said: “Newcastle manager Rafael Benitez got a great welcome at Anfield when he went back with the Magpies over Christmas, but I don’t think he will get the same sort of reception on Saturday at another of his former clubs.

“Sadly for Benitez, I can see him being on the wrong end of a similar result – although I do not see Chelsea hammering Newcastle the way that Liverpool did.

“It looks like the Blues are going to get a new striker in January, we just don’t know who it will be yet.

“They need one because they have been a bit short of goals recently but, in the meantime, I still think they will be too strong for the Magpies.”

On the Brighton vs Liverpool game, Lawrenson said: “Liverpool have got a problem in central defence with Dejan Lovren and Joel Matip injured, and I suspect Fabinho will play there – I can’t see what else Reds boss Jurgen Klopp would do.

“Ki-Jana Hoever did great when he came on for Lovren against Wolves, but you would not want to chuck a 16-year-old in at Brighton because he would have Glenn Murray to contend with.

“I know the Seagulls are not the most attacking team, and Liverpool turned them over easily at Amex Stadium last season, but Murray against a kid? No, he would have too much experience for him.

“This is a really good test for Liverpool, on the back of their defeat by Manchester City and then their defeat at Molineux after Klopp decided the FA Cup was not in his top two priorities.

“It would clearly be preferable for Liverpool to be at Anfield as they look to bounce back this weekend, especially because the thing about Brighton is that they are very good at stopping teams from playing. Brighton have got a good home record too, which is why I am going for a draw here.

“I don’t know whether this might be a little bump in the road for Liverpool but, if I am right and they drop points on Saturday, I would also back them to return to winning ways in their home games against Crystal Palace and Leicester before the end of the month.

“There are 11 days between the Palace and Leicester matches and, because Liverpool are out of the FA Cup, Klopp will be able to give his players a few days off to rest their bodies, and clear their heads.”