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“I yelled Oluomo, Oluomo as train approached,” BRT-train crash survivor tells court she remembers calling out to driver

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ARINZE NWAFOR, Lagos

Oluwajani Fayokemi, a survivor of a Lagos State Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) that crashed into a moving train, said she called out to the driver as she recounted her experience in court.

Fayokemi said she remembered yelling out the words, “Oluomo, Oluomo,” in a call to warn the driver of the BRT that the train which eventually crashed into them on March 9, 2023, was approaching them.

The prosecution called Fayokemi as its third witness in the case of manslaughter against the BRT driver, Oluwaseun Osibanjo, being heard at an Ikeja High Court.

The witness told the court that she had been using the BRT 33, a Lagos State Government staff bus, driven by the defendant, Osibanjo, since 2018 and driven by the same driver, the defendant, without any accident.

However, the defendant said that on March 9, 2023, as the BRT plied its route from Jakande Gate to Alausa Secretariat, it attempted to cross a railway track at the PWD junction.

Wreckage of BRT Bus which crashed into an oncoming train on March 9, 2023

Fayokemi noted that while the bus was on the track, the passengers, including her, could hear horn sounds from an oncoming train.

“When we got to the PWD Junction of the train track, we heard the horn of a coming train,” the witness told the court.

Jonathan Ogunsanya, a Deputy Director in the Lagos State Ministry of Justice and prosecuting counsel, led the witness in evidence. 

According to the witness, the bus passengers started calling on the driver whom they referred to as ‘Oluomo’, but before they knew it, they heard a bang.

Fayokemi said that the train started pushing the BRT bus on the track.

The witness recalled passing out upon impact and being oblivious to what was happening around her for some minutes.

The witness said she eventually woke up to the sound of banging that some young men who had come to offer help and carry the hurt passengers to the hospital made on the bus.

“I was carried on my leg and hands out of the bus by the boys because I could not move,” Fayokemi said. 

“They also carried other passengers who were injured out of the bus, while good Samaritans in private cars also assisted,” the witness continued.

The witness said she saw many passengers with injuries at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH).

The witness said she remembered seeing blood gushing from the head of a colleague, whom she identified as Olayinka, as a stone had hit her head.

“Later on, at LASUTH, I found out that she passed away,” the witness said.

The witness also recalled another lady passenger, whom she identified as Alhaja, and said that she saw her dead body.

The witness said that on the first night at the hospital, the doctor told her she ought to be grateful to be alive.

The witness said she later learned from the doctor that five passengers had died and on the next day, one more passenger died, making them six.

BRT Bus which crashed into an oncoming train on March 9, 2023, being lifted by a crane

The Defence Counsel, Lekan Egberongbe, during cross-examination, asked the witness if she recalled writing a police statement after she regained consciousness and the events of the crash were still fresh in her memory.

The witness replied in the affirmative.

Egberongbe asked the witness to point out in her statement to the police, where she wrote that she, alongside the passengers, heard the honk of an oncoming train and also called out to the BRT driver.

The witness said that she did not record that part in her written statement to the police.

Egberongbe asked the witness if she confirmed with the defendant whether he saw the oncoming train.

The witness replied in the negative.

When the defence counsel asked the witness where she sat on the BRT bus, and she said she sat in the middle, specifically by the second door on the first seat, Egberongbe said the driver having sat in front of the bus should have been impacted the most.

The prosecuting counsel objected to the line of questioning of the defence counsel.

The trial judge, Justice Oyindamola Ogala adjourned the matter until November 8, 2023, for the continuation of the hearing.

On May 2, Ogala remanded the defendant at the Kirikiri custodial facility after his arraignment.

Osibanjo pleaded not guilty to a 16-count charge of involuntary manslaughter brought against him by the Lagos State Government.

The defendant’s alleged offences border on running into a moving train, causing grievous harm and involuntary manslaughter.

The alleged offences contravene the provision of Sections 244 and 245 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2015.

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