It was a black Saturday for the residents of Iworoko Ekiti as a truck conveying bags of rice killed dozens of people.
Official casualty from the accident is yet to be announced, but witnesses said at least 45 people may have been killed.
The rice being conveyed were bagged with campaign stickers of an All Progressives Congress (APC) senatorial candidate in Ondo State, Tayo Alasoadura.
Mr Alasoadura is a senator representing Ondo Central at the National Assembly. He is seeking re-election in 2019.
Such bags of rice are used as campaign materials. They are given to party supporters and potential voters to secure their support.
Eyewitnesses told this newspaper that at least 45 persons including students have been killed in the accident. PREMIUM TIMES gathered that the trailer crushed a loaded vehicle and drove into Iworoko market after its break failed.
Iworoko, beside Ado-Ekiti, the Ekiti State capital, is also home to thousands of students of the nearby Ekiti State University.
PREMIUM TIMES is yet to verify the number of students affected in the accident as the spokesman of the university, Ajibade Olubunmi, did not respond to calls at the time of filing this report.
Many of the students are, however, believed to have left the community due to the ongoing strike by university lecturers, ASUU.
An eyewitness who spoke with our correspondent, Segun Ajayi, said ambulance vehicles have done several trips to take the bodies of the victims as well as the injured to the hospital.
“It was a terrible one, the ambulance has passed here like five times trying to rescue and dump the body of affected victims in the mortuary,” he said.
Another eyewitness who simply identified himself as Kunle said the accident happened at about 8 p.m. on Saturday.
“The trailer was carrying rice meant for distribution voters in next general elections as bags of rice have the picture of Senator Tayo Alasoadura. It was actually break failure. About 45 people have died and still counting,” he said.
PREMIUM TIMES learnt that in the early hours of Sunday the deputy governor of Ekiti State, Bisi Egbeyemi, went round Iworoko to assess the roadside market affected by the ugly accident.
He also visited the victims receiving treatment at the State Hospital.
Mr Alasoadura did not respond to PREMIUM TIMES call and text messages seeking clarification on the incident.
While the Ekiti State Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) is yet to release official statement on the accident, Caleb Ikechukwu, Ekiti State Police Public Relations Officer, told our correspodent that: “I cannot assert number of persons who died but there were truly casualties”
The accident has generated many reactions among Nigerians.
Reacting to the accident, Senate President Bukola Saraki on Twitter expressed his “deepest condolences to all the families affected by the Iworoko, Ekiti roadside market accident that claimed many lives. As survivors pull together in the wake of this tragedy, I wish them all a speedy recovery and pray for the repose of all departed souls. #EkitiMourns”.
The former governor of Ekiti State, Ayo Fayose, said: “I received the news of the accident at Iworoko Ekiti that took many lives as a shock. We will never witness such a sad occurrence in Ekiti State again. May the good Lord console the victims families and may the souls of the departed rest in peace.”
I received the news of the accident at Iworoko Ekiti that took many lives as a shock. We will never witness such a sad occurrence in Ekiti State again.
May the good Lord console the victims families and may the souls of the departed rest in peace.
— Peter Ayodele Fayose (@GovAyoFayose) January 13, 2019
A Twitter user @Balatic said: “APC has taken vote buying, election madness & hypocrisy to a whole new level. So the accident in #Ekitimourns was caused by a truck transporting APC campaign rice. More than 20 lives lost & pple are not outraged. The legislature must enact a law to ban vote buying of any type.
APC has taken vote buying, election madness & hypocrisy to a whole new level. So the accident in #Ekitimourns was caused by a truck transporting APC campaign rice. More than 20 lives lost & pple are not outraged. The legislature must enact a law to ban vote buying of any type
— C.A. Hills, MBA (Havard via Affidavit) (@Balatic) January 13, 2019
“Imagine if they put the effort & 💰 spent in packaging these inducements into actual governance. These pple are evil. Last time I said collect (if u must) & vote ur conscience. I was wrong
“The right thing is: REJECT it even if it’s from ur candidate! Show you care! #EkitiMourns”
Another Twitter user, @Sheudam, said: “I have seen people politicizing the fatal accident that happened in iworoko because the rice found in the trailer was branded with Sen. Alasoadura’s banner.
“No.. Pls its enough.. The brake failed.. He lost control..
“Pray for the family of the deceased..