A report by the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) on the outcome of its investigation has blamed the convoy of Kogi State Governor Idris Wada and the Ministry of Works as being the cause of the fatal accident along Abuja/Lokoja highway that claimed the life of one of Late Prof. Festus Iyayi.
The report was made public following a request by the Academic Staff Union of University (ASUU) to the FRSC that it should make available the outcome of its investigation within seven days
The FRSC investigation team discovered that “the probable cause of the crash was the deliberate failure of V2′s driver (one Danladi Baba, driving a black Toyota Hilux pick up van in Governor Wada’s convoy carrying seven police details) to return fully or stick to his lane of travel.
“The root cause was failure of the construction company handling the Abuja/Lokoja Highway road project to provide adequate traffic guidance and channelization”, the report signed and endorsed by Assistant Corps Marshal and Corps legal adviser, Mr. Wole Olaniran noted.
The report which was originally compiled by Mr. D.O Oriazonwan simply identified as holding rank of DRC and the position of SCIA, RS8.2 was summarised by C.N. Njoku, in the rank of CC and the position of HOS (AIA), even as it was authorised by EP Osawe, an Acting HOD (SED).
Indicting the governor’s convoy, the FRSC report noted: “The weather and vehicle conditions did not contribute to the occurence of this crash. Major safety issue identified in this investigation was failure of V2′s driver (Baba, driver of the black Toyota Hilux pick up van in Governor Wada’s convoy carrying seven police details) to completely move to his lane of travel despite the fact that the vehicles were confined to a two-lane roadway.”
The report noted that speed also contributed to the severity of injury incurred by the accident victims, adding that the direction of impact, as well as one of the body reinforcement materials of V1 (the white Toyota Hiace Bus carrying the late Iyayi and other ASUU members which pierced through the heart area of Iyayi contributed to the severity of the accident.
Accordingly, the FRSC investigation team recommended in the report that governors’ convoys in the country must henceforth “maintain adequate lane discipline and desist from running other vehicles off-road, adding that, while the governors’ convoys must liaise with FRSC for convoy drivers’ proper orientation and enlightenment, they must regulate and enforce speed limit for their convoy drivers.”
For road authorities (Ministry of Works and FERMA), the FRSC report recommended that, while they must “instruct and ensure that adequate guidance and channelisation of traffic is provided by the construction firms, they must also “ensure the speedy completion of the construction of Abuja-Lokoja road.”
The report further urged the companies handling the Abuja-Lokoja highway to provide adequate traffic guidance and channelisation, as well as accelerate the completion of the highway.
The report also urged the FRSC to ensure that, while “governors’ convoys operate within the ambit of traffic laws, it should as well seek for more legal powers to bring convoy drivers to justice when involved in traffic infractions that may lead to crashes.”
The late Iyayi, who was until his death on November 13, 2013, a lecturer at the University of Benin and a member of National Executive Committee of ASUU was on his way in the company of some other members of the union to a meeting in Kano when a vehicle in the convoy of Kogi State Governor, Idris rammed into the bus that was conveying them, killing Iyayi on the spot, while others were injured.
Invoking the provision of the Freedom of Information Act, counsel to ASUU, Chief Femi Falana (SAN) had noted in a letter to the Corp Marshal of the FRSC dated February 12, 2014 that the commission is mandatorily obligated to comply with the request of his client that the report be made available to them.
The letter from the Chamber of Falana signed on his behalf by Barrister Samuel Ogala reads in part: “We act as solicitors for the Academic Staff Union of University (ASUU) on whose behalf and instructions we write this letter.
“Sequel to the public outrage that greeted the incident the Federal Road Safety Commission immediately ordered an investigation into the circumstances that led to the tragic incident. Our client is aware that the investigation has since been concluded. Accordingly, we have our client’s firm instructions to request for a certified true copy of the report.
“Take notice that under the Freedom of Information Act, your Commission is mandatory obligated to comply with this request. Furthermore, in ALHAJI SANI DOGOGO v E.F.C.C. & 3 ORDS (2013) 1 N.W.L.R. [Pt. 1336] 468 the Court of Appeal held that any person who makes a complaint to an investigative body is entitled to a copy of the investigation report by virtue of the provisions of Article 9 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act, Cap A9.
“In the light of the foregoing we urge your commission to accede to the request of our client not later than seven (7) days from the date of the receipt of this letter.”