Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Four Girls, Motorcyclist drown in mystery river in Abuja

Four girls on penultimate Saturday got drown in River Danko in Galadimawa community, outskirt of Abuja.  The river is now dreaded as residents said there were more deaths in it, recalling that a motorcyclist also drowned in it barely two days after the death of the girls.

The river, which flows through the African University of Science and Technology became the main source of water for the residents for household use and laundry after the borehole stopped running. It is also where motorcyclists and taxi drivers  turned to after work to wash their vehicles.

The district head of Galadimawa, Malam Musa Barde, after the incident said residents have been warned to stop going to the river due to the rate at which people drown in it.

“This year we have experienced five deaths, so you can see it is very strange and scary. I can also remember that three years ago someone drowned in it too,” he said, admitting that the situation has left him and other community heads in a dilemma.

Residents said the deaths of the girls  is now being attributed to some mysterious forces.  

They said the corpses were found almost at the same spot where local fishermen caught an unusually big fish. They  were all buried by the river bank as their tradition dictates and as a signpost and reminder of the mysterious River Danko, Daily Trust reports.

 “That river is very historical and people go there to play around it which is not proper. We keep on telling people to keep off from that place; that spiritual attacks take place in the river,” he said.

“Those children just drown within a short time when they went to wash their clothes unknown to them that people don’t normally go there to wash,” he said, adding that that was not the first time such incident had occurred.

He linked the recent sad events to some ongoing government projects at the Galadimawa roundabout.

 “We feel that as a result of the government project going on at the roundabout, some spirits might have been tampered with thereby causing them into attacking people around,” he said. 

While the district head said his council made up of village heads was still pondering on the solution. Daniel Gado, the father of one of the dead girls is yet to recover from the loss while the wife still hoped their daughter, Hasimi, would one day return home. 

Nineteen-year-old, Hasimi had taken her siblings’ school uniforms to wash and when she informed her father about her decision to go and wash at the stream, he also added his own laundry. 

With her three months old baby strapped to her back, her father, Daniel Gado, bade her goodbye not knowing that would be the last time he would see his daughter alive. 

She got to the river at about noon and got to work immediately by the bank while some children played in the river that hot Saturday afternoon.

But her washing chore was interrupted when she saw some of the children drowning, she unstrapped her baby and put her on the rock and dived into the river in an attempt to rescue the children.

“If I had known I would have stopped her; I would have told her to get water somewhere else. If only the borehole was not faulty, I would have….” her father muttered his regrets as he fought back tears.

“Now she has left a three-month-old baby,” he said, explaining the challenges the family has to face with the death of Hasimi.

He said she seldom went to the river but she had to due to the faulty borehole that resulted into lack of water in the area.

The baby’s father did not show up when she was delivered. Mr. Daniel said they are yet to see the father of the child even after her death. 

Ibrahim Haruna and Ayuba Samuel, are two other grieving fathers whose daughters also drown in the river. Haruna was so devastated that he could not eat for days until he was prevailed upon by relatives to do so.

“My daughter prays for me every morning before I leave the house and that was her first time at the river only to go and never return,” he said.

He said their 11-year-old daughter has left a vacuum in the family as her mother too was yet to recover from the tragedy.  

Haruna, a driver, said he was at Kuchingoro when he received a phone call informing him of the sad incident. He said  he will  not forget that day in a hurry.

He said his daughter, Bridget, 11, and a primary two pupil, was at the river for the first time in company of her friends but did not return home alive.

Haruna, said he felt so much pain when he saw his daughter’s corpse brought out of the river. It took about 30 to 40 minutes before the corpses were brought out by the help of local fishermen.

Samuel Ayuba was the guardian of late Patience, also 11-year-old. He said his wife, Patience’s aunt, had to be summoned to Abaji by her relatives considering the circumstances that surrounded the girl’s death.

 He said in line with their custom, some traditional measures would be taken to unravel the mystery though he said the girl’s family had resigned to fate.

However, the district head is looking beyond the physical as he said the incident involving the motorcyclist left more than met the eye.

“It is something we have to look into; we have been taking our time to see how we can follow up with our tradition to make sure that the appropriate thing is done,” he said.

He said the recent deaths could be linked to the abandonment of traditional ways.

 “I am a Muslim and my village is predominantly Christian. Most of our traditions have been abandoned but now we have to research and see how we can conquer this. In fact we are in a dilemma,” he said. 

He said it was an “on and off spiritual attack,” and the residents have to rise up to the occasion by meeting with elders and finding a lasting solution to it.

On the immediate measures taken, he said, “I have drafted a signpost informing people not to bathe or wash at the river. We want to team up with the African University on securing the place,” he said.

 He however assured the residents not to be jittery as he had met village heads of Galadimawa, Kuchingoro and Chika “on how we can arrest the situation as soon as possible.”

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