Inside Akungba student community where accidents are slowly becoming a norm

Akungba Akoko, the host community of Adekunle Ajasin University has been thrown into mourning following repeated accidents that have claimed scores of lives; residents and students.

These incessant accidents have claimed lives and affected the livelihood of people living in the community; houses, properties, businesses of residents destroyed. For students, this is a big blow, seeing their coursemates and loved ones die in incessant accidents caused by trailers and trucks which has made many scared of learning and returning back to school for their academic activities. Caleb Ijioma reports.

Major road accidents between 2020 and 2022

Accidents in this community are gradually becoming the norm. Although there is no specific number of deaths, WITHIN NIGERIA has observed that more than 20 people have died in different accidents from 2020 to 2022.

On the 6th of September, 2020, a trailer coming from the Adefarati area lost control and fell along Crisolo/Heaven’s Palace and Premiere Pierre axis. It collided with Buses, Cars, and Motorcycles leaving many dead. A month after, on October 31, 2020, specifically, another accident struck the community killing residents and leaving many injured.

Just when the community was healing, another accident occurred on the 23rd of January, 2021 close to the AAUA main gate. This accident resulted in the deaths of scores of students, including the former students union president, Adesomoju Oluwatobi Samuel. It was equally gathered that 3 siblings lost their lives in this ugly occurrence. This accident led to the closure of the university on the 23rd of Jan, 2021, by the management.

A scene of one of the accidents caused by trucks.

Also, On the 25th of April, 2021, three months after, exactly about two people were confirmed dead in an accident that evening in the community. It was reported that a bus conveying passengers collided with a motorcycle. Another accident that claimed one person also occurred in front of Holy Trinity Church, Akungba, On the 14th of November, 2021.

The accidents continued in 2022 when another case was recorded on the 25th of Jan. Also on the 3rd of February, 2022, three different accident cases were said to have happened within 24hrs. In one of these cases, a 2017 graduate of AAUA, Akinniyi Micheal, lost his life.

Akinniyi Micheal, a 2017 graduate of AAUA lost his life to one of the accidents on Jan 3, 2023.

What has been done in the face of incessant accidents?

Due to the frequent road accidents that have claimed many lives by heavy trucks, ex-students union executives together with community leaders erected a barricade on the 24th of January, 2021, a day after scores of students and residents were killed by a Dangote truck. Students equally held several protests on Twitter, a micro-blogging platform, using the hashtag #SaveAAUA #SaveAkungba. WITHIN NIGERIA gathered that the first physical protest was on the 24th of Jan, 2021. 

This reporter gathered that after the Jan 23rd accident, AAUA management closed the school main gate of the institution to avert further accidents.

In Jan 2022, students continued to call the Government’s attention to the Akungba-Ikare road that has become a death trap. After the Feb 3rd incident, students took to Twitter to protest the failure of the Ondo state govt to look into the frequent accidents in Akungba caused by heavy trucks. 

The second physical protest was done on the 4th of Feb 2022. Students and student association leaders took to the streets to protest the incessant road accident. They blocked the Akungba-Ikare road that links neighboring towns such as Owo and Akure by the South and Lokoja, Abuja, Niger, Kaduna, Kano by the North.

Students of AAUA protesting on the 4th of Feb, 2022.

How state actors leveraged on recurring accidents to make money

A few days after the barricade was mounted on the 24th of January, 2021, to prevent trucks from plying the Akungba-Ikare road, Security operatives leveraged it to extort motorists. The barricade was removed and turned to an extortion junction by police and indigenes further allowing trailers to ply the road.

A Barricade was mounted by students and some residents at the entrance of the community on the 24th of Jan, 2022.

In a video clip shot on the 16th of Oct, 2021, and obtained by WITHIN NIGERIA, a policeman was seen standing in front of a bus preventing the driver from moving because he failed to oblige the officer when he requested a token. This is one of many recorded on that junction.

Also, a source disclosed that the ex-students union president, Obgunwa Oluwasegun, in the company of some students were threatened by some chiefs after they visited the King of Akungba on the removal of the barricade.

This reporter monitored a Twitter space hosted by Oluyemi Fashipe known as Yemi Fash. It was alleged that the current king of the community, Oba Isaac Sunday Adeyeye, Ajimo III, and a politician in the local government, Otunba Adefarati Adegboyega were behind the barricade illegal taxation to allow trailers to ply the road. Otunba Adefarati Adegboyega is said to be the son of the former Ondo state governor, Chief Adebayo Adefarati.

Students React

Students of AAUA who spoke to WITHIN NIGERIA expressed their grievances and the way they feel about the incessant accidents that have claimed the lives of their colleagues 

Fathai Rukayat, a student of Mass Communication said the community has the major faults in these accidents. She blamed the community for converting the barricade earlier erected to a toll junction.

“In my opinion, this situation is getting out of hand. I can’t blame the student or the government. I blame the community. The community sees it as an opportunity for them to feast. I look back to 2020 on a Saturday when a rice truck hit them so hard. I guess they didn’t count many deaths and they didn’t count many injuries. If they did, they would understand how it feels to lose someone. Barricades became their toll gate and they feast on our hurt.”

“The community has the largest blame in this. Be it spiritual or physical. They are to be held responsible for the incessant accident as they have turned deaf ears to the implementation of policies made by the government. Little can the student union do. It’s understandable that students will face more problems if things get out of hand. For them to go far, they need the support of the government and especially the community.” she said

Aminat Salako, a student of Computer science told WITHIN NIGERIA that she’s scared of resuming back to school because of these accidents

“ First, I’m getting scared to even resume school because of these accidents. I watched a video recently where there was a hold-up filled with trailers from Akungba into Ikare. I don’t know if there’s another route for them to pass but another route should be made available cause stipulating time for them won’t work since the Kabiyesi closed it then and they still defied him”

“ Even if time is stipulated, lives can still be lost. There might just be a reduction. Some people live in buildings at the sides of these express roads. Those blind drivers might still rush into those buildings and kill people while they are sleeping. The solution is for trailers not to appear on that road again. I don’t care if it’s a federal road, if the road can’t be dualized, then no trailer should pass”

A recent graduate of Mass communication, Adesola Ikulajolu, bemoaned the lack of efforts of the school management in putting the government on its toes. He however called for the dualization of the road.

“ Right from the initial time when accidents have been happening in. Akungba-Akoko, we thought it was a thing that will be minimal. But we were wrong, it got worse. Major protests in Akungba-Akoko have been caused by accidents killing people. More trailers plying the road and more lives are being endangered.”

“ It is sad because what we wanted was a lasting solution to trailer movement. The government should have heeded the call of students to find a solution before it got worse. The school management should have also put the government on its toes. If the road cannot be dualized or leveled, an alternative should be provided. The lives we lost can’t be regained. It is so painful.” he said

AAUASU speaks on new development

Kolade Ogunsanmi, the Student union President told this reporter in a WhatsApp conversation held on Saturday said that a barricade has been erected in front of the university gate and he’ll continue to engage the government so that promises made can be effective.

“ We protested yesterday which is the right thing to do and erected a barricade in front of the University gate. We do not have a barricade in front of the university gate but at the entrance of the community, but we now have a barricade in front of the university gate which the school security will be in charge, the general public will be in charge because the place is an open area”

“ The government has promised that they’ll deploy security who are going to be in charge of the barricade in front of the university gate and the barricade at the entrance of the community. So we will continue to engage the government to make sure it’s effective “ he said.

AAUA management decides not to speak

This Reporter called Prof. Akanbi, the Dean of Student Affairs on Sunday. He hung up saying the network was bad. A call was made on Monday several times but he hung up repeatedly. Messages were sent and he failed to respond.

State Government Sympathizes With Victims’ Families

Following the Feb 4 protest by students of the institution after the community recorded three different accidents in a day, Ondo State Governor, Arakunrin Akeredolu through a press statement signed by his chief press secretary, Richard Olatunde, expressed disappointment over the negligence of some community members and commiserate with the people of Akungba Akoko.

A part of the statement reads: “ It is disheartening that some people have turned the barricade mounted by the government to prevent these heavy trucks from plying the road, into a money-making venture. If people truly value lives and understand that whatever money you made at the expense of people’s lives is blood money. This particular incident was highly avoidable.”

“On several occasions, I have visited Akungba Akoko on the heels of incessant accidents. As part of our temporary solution to the situation, a barricade was mounted. It was expected that no heavy-duty vehicle would ply that road again. However, we have received reports that some residents of the town open this barricade for heavy-duty trucks to pass for a token.”

“ Governor Akeredolu expressed concern over the needless death of the residents, especially students whose dreams and aspirations have been cut short in their prime.”

The governor warned community leaders, youth representatives, and other residents of the town to desist from flouting his directives. 

He further ordered that a barricade be mounted at the troubled portion of the road to prevent heavy-duty trucks from plying that route.

“ In clear terms, Governor Akeredolu had ordered that a barricade be mounted at the troubled portion of the road to prevent heavy-duty trucks from plying that route. The Governor, therefore, warned all community leaders, youth leaders or representatives, and other residents of the town to immediately desist from the unwholesome act of flaunting the Governor’s directive by opening this barricade for articulated trucks.”

“ Governor Akeredolu government will henceforth, deploy armed security personnel to man this barricade and deal decisively with anyone found opening this barricade for articulated trucks.”

Arakunrin Akeredolu assured that construction of the bad portion of the road will commence in “no distance time”, stressing that the design for the road is ready.

FRSC discloses reasons for accidents

The Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) Ondo sector commander, Mr. Ahmed Hassan, who spoke to WITHIN NIGERIA said that excess speed limits, dangerous overtaking, brake failure are part of the reasons for incessant accidents in the community.

“ The one of Jan last year that ram into students, we discovered that excess speed and going above the speed limit expected to be 50km per hour then, and now the United nation is talking about reducing it, lack of observing the speed limit, brake failure which leads to loss of control and dangerous overtaking are the causes now that we can see,” he said

Speaking on what the commission has done to prevent accidents in the community, he said that the sector has carried out intensive public enlightenment on the effective use of the road and enforcement of speed limits in vehicles.

“ There is always a patrol team patrolling that area, there is an ambulance there, a presence of a command, a presence of a patrol team, intensive public enlightenment using billboards, both the print and electronic media, those are things we are actually doing, red flag by patrolmen to track down traffic along the areas, aggressive enforcement of installation of speed limiting devices in all vehicles. we are reaching out in teams of public education, a company here installed 33-speed limited control device in his truck, another one is installing his own any moment from now, we are reaching out, to ensure total obedience to the speed limit for vehicles” he said

He stressed that the dualization of the road will prevent further accidents and equally advised all motorists to ply the road with good working vehicles.

Open Sunshine Initiative proffers solution

The Chief Executive Officer of Open Sunshine Initiative, Oluwagbenga Ajongbolo, said the government has not been silent but is complicit in the matter.

Open Sunshine is a not-for-profit initiative tracking government spending and international aid expenditures in Ondo State.

Ajongbolo said a sincere approach by the government will reduce road accidents in the Akungba community.

“ A sincere approach by the government. Block off the road against trailers and trucks. This is a hilly town with steep roads. Just like it was done in Oka Akoko, let them do the same for Akungba. Alternative, temporary routes could be picked now till the hills are leveled and Akungba-Ikare road is dualized.”

” The Government is not silent, I doubt they were. They’re only complicit in the matter and are hiding behind one finger. I read the statement enforcing the barricade but was shocked to see the same poles removed the next day.” he said



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