While family members anxiously wait on any news from loved ones, information from Nigeria has been a total blackout, after a building collapsed in Lagos last Friday. Relief organization Gift of the Givers reported on Wednesday that their representatives in Lagos had been chased away, after trying to assist a South African.
The NGO’s founder Dr Imtiaz Sooliman said when a women from Durban contacted him to ask for his assistance in trying to locate her brother, he acquired some help from two team members and team leader Sheikh Mohammed Jamie to gather information around the situation and perhaps locate some South Africans who were at the synagogue at the time of the tragedy.
By lunch time on Wednesday the men were chased away from the Avon health care facility after they were inside and located the man, whose sister contacted Sooliman.
“We found him and he spoke to his sister over the phone, however they were not given much time before they were asked to leave before they could even take a photograph of the man,” said Sooliman.
All the people who came in the hope of finding a loved one or to locate friends or family were asked to leave.
Sooliman explained that no one were allowed to take photographs, have discussions, or access any of the patients at the hospital.
“And they were told that if they do not leave they will be involved with sabotage and terrorism and they could be arrested and taken away,” added Sooilman.
The men then went to the outside of the church to try and see if there was anyone or if they could do anything to help. The same thing was then said to them at scene of the incident.
Sooliman said that Sheikh Jamie eventually arrived in the area late last night after a long wait for a flight, and managed to gain access to the hospital and connect with some of the patients after which he was also asked to leave.
“He ascertained and managed to find out that there were more South Africans in the hospital, he was however not given access to them. He was not given any names and he also gathered more information regarding the Durban man was injured but it was nothing critical,” Sooliman said.
Sheikh Jamie also spoke to Nigerian Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and according to him, they confirmed that 63 people have died. How many are South Africans is uncertain.
“So we don’t know about the figures …that is what we were told that 63 people have died and the South Africans are part of that 63,” adds Sooliman.
Sooliman said that according to the information gathered by those assisting GOTG, rescue workers has so far rescued 130 people.
He said that the amount of injured or those need of medical assistance is unknown as information is difficult. Access to people has been blocked and communication in the area is sporadic. VOC (Imogen Vollenhoven)