Families of 43 UTME candidates in fatal accident seek justice
The families of 43 candidates from the Southeast who lost their lives in a fatal accident on their way from Edo State where they went to write the 2001 University Matriculation Examination (now Universal Tertiary Matriculation Examination UTME), have urged the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) to investigate the cause of the mishap.
They also sent the petition to President Goodluck Jonathan, Senate President David Mark, House of Representatives Speaker Aminu Tambuwal, among others, urging them to ensure that justice is done.
The families urged NHRC “to investigate this matter to a logical conclusion in all its ramifications with a view to awarding damages and also protecting the human rights of the affected persons.”
They also urged the Abia State House of Assembly to revisit the case so as to implement the resolutions passed in 2001 and 2002 by the lawmakers, while they asked the Imo State government to implement the promises it made to the affected families.
The Abia State House of Assembly had held a public hearing on the accident, but the families, through their lawyer S.J. Dare, said justice has not been done, 13 years after.
The candidates, said to hail from Abia and Imo states, were allegedly taken to Edo by a “Miracle (tutorial) Centre” which allegedly charged each candidate between N25,000 and N50,000 to guarantee an automatic pass in the exam.
They were said to have been transported in a rickety “Enyimba Mass Transit” bus, and on their way back, it plunged into the Orshionwin River at about 11pm on April 28, 2001, killing the 43 candidates, with the driver reportedly the sole survivor.
Only the bodies of 17 candidates were said to have been recovered through the effort of some volunteers from the community.
“All subsequent efforts by the affected parents to get justice proved abortive. They staged protests to Imo and Abia states Houses of Assembly which yielded motions and resolutions but no actions,” the lawyer said.
The families alleged that they were harassed and intimidated by those who want them to drop their demand for justice and compensation.
“The affected parents affirm that no power or threat or intimidation will make them to abandon their quest for justice.
“We crave the indulgence of the good people of Nigeria, especially those with power and mandate, to intercede on behalf of the affected parents,” Dare said.
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