Death toll rises to nine in collapsed Lagos school building

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Emergency personnel rescue a child at the site of a building which collapsed in Lagos on Wednesday, March 13, 2019. (AFP)
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A child is rescued at the site of a collapsed building containing a school in Nigeria's commercial capital of Lagos, Nigeria March 13, 2019. (Reuters)
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Rescue workers search for survivors at the site of a collapsed building containing a school in Nigeria's commercial capital of Lagos, Nigeria March 13, 2019. (Reuters)
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Rescue workers help carry a child at the site of a collapsed building containing a school in Nigeria's commercial capital of Lagos, Nigeria March 13, 2019. (Reuters)
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A woman reacts at the site of a collapsed building containing a school in Nigeria's commercial capital of Lagos, Nigeria March 13, 2019. (Reuters)
Updated 18 March 2019

Death toll rises to nine in collapsed Lagos school building

  • At least eight children rescued from rubble
  • School was on third floor of three-story building

LAGOS: Another body has been recovered from the rubble of a building housing a school that collapsed in Nigeria’s biggest city, Lagos, rescue workers said Thursday, taking the death toll to nine.

“We worked through the night and one body was recovered,” the southwest coordinator of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Ibrahim Farinloye, said.

The dilapidated building in the densely populated Lagos Island area of the city came down without warning on Wednesday morning.

Locals, firefighters and other emergency services workers picked through the rubble to find those trapped, in chaotic scenes.

Thirty-seven people were rescued alive, Farinloye said on Wednesday night.

Lagos State governor Akinwunmi Ambode said the building had been earmarked for demolition and a nursery and primary school was being run illegally on one of its floors.

School bags, toys and clothes were among the piles of rubble as a bulldozer tried to clear a path through wreckage.

Shopworker Adeniyi Afolabi, who lives nearby, gave the name of the school as the Ohen Nursery and Primary, and said there were 144 pupils in attendance on Wednesday.

Another local, Zion Munachi, also confirmed the name and the number of pupils. Both said not all children were at the school because of sports activities.

Joshua Yang, of the Lagos State Fire Service, said the nursery area of the building had now been cleared.

“There are no persons left in the rubble,” he told the TVC News channel.

Building collapses are tragically common in Nigeria, where building regulations are routinely flouted.

In September 2014, 116 people died — 84 of them South Africans — when a six-story guesthouse collapsed at the Lagos church complex of celebrity televangelist TB Joshua.

An inquiry found extra floors had been added without planning permission.

In 2016, at least 60 people were killed when the roof collapsed at a church in Uyo, the capital of Akwa Ibom state, in the south.


Indians demonstrate against ‘divisive’ citizenship bill

Updated 11 December 2019

Indians demonstrate against ‘divisive’ citizenship bill

  • The bill, which goes to the upper house on Wednesday, would ensure citizenship for Hindus, Sikhs, Parsis and Buddhists from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan, but exclude Muslims

NEW DELHI: Protests erupted across various parts of India on Tuesday, a day after the lower house of Parliament passed the controversial Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) which makes religion the basis for granting Indian citizenship to minorities from neighboring countries. 

The bill, which goes to the upper house on Wednesday, would ensure citizenship for Hindus, Sikhs, Parsis and Buddhists from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan, but exclude Muslims.

“After the CAB, we are going to bring in the National Register of Citizens (NRC),” Home Minister Amit Shah said after the passage of the bill. 

The fear among a large section of Indians is that by bringing in the CAB and the NRC — a process to identify illegal immigrants — the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is trying to target Muslim minorities. 

They insist that the new bill protects all other communities except Muslims, who constitute around 14 percent of India’s total population.

The opposition Congress Party said that the bill was a move to “destroy the foundation” of India.

“The CAB is an attack on the Indian constitution. Anyone who supports it is attacking and attempting to destroy the foundation of our nation,” party leader Rahul Gandhi posted in a tweet.

Priyanka Gandhi, Rahul’s sister and a prominent opposition leader, called the bill “India’s tryst with bigotry.”

However, BJP spokesperson Sudesh Verma said: “The opposition is communalizing the bill. 

The CAB saves minorities who owe their origin to India from being prosecuted on grounds of religious status. The same is not the case with Muslims since they have not been prosecuted because of their religion.”

Eight northeastern states observed a day-long strike against the CAB. 

“Once the bill is implemented, the native tribal people will become permanent minorities in their own state,” Animesh Debbarma, a tribal leader who organized the strike in the state of Tripura said.

“The bill is against our fundamental rights and it is an attack on our constitution and secularism,” he told Arab News.

In Assam, some places saw violence with a vehicle belonging to the BJP state president vandalized.

In New Delhi, different civil society groups and individuals gathered close to the Indian Parliament and expressed their outrage at the “open and blatant attack” on what they called the “idea” of India.

“The CAB is not only against Muslim minorities but against all the minorities — be it Tamils or Nepali Gurkhas — and is a blatant attempt to polarize the society in the name of religion and turn India into a majoritarian Hindu state,” Nadeem Khan, head of United Against Hate, a campaign to connect people from different faiths, said.

Rallies and protests were also organized in Pune, Ahmadabad, Allahabad, Patna and Lucknow.

On Tuesday, more than 600 academics, activists, lawyers and writers called the bill “divisive, discriminatory, unconstitutional” in an open letter, and urged the government to withdraw the proposed law.

They said that the CAB, along with the NRC, “will bring untold suffering to people across the country. It will damage fundamentally and irreparably, the nature of the Indian republic.”

Delhi-based activist and a prominent human rights campaigner, Harsh Mander, said: “I feel the CAB is the most dangerous bill that has ever been brought by the Indian Parliament. We need a mass civil disobedience movement to oppose this legislation.”

Meanwhile, the international community is also watching the domestic debate on the CAB. 

Describing the initiative as a “dangerous turn in the wrong direction,”  a federal US commission on international religious freedom has sought US sanctions against Shah and other Indian leaders if the bill with the “religious criterion” is passed.

EU ambassador to India, Ugo Astuto, in a press conference in New Delhi on Monday said that he hopes: “The spirit of equality enshrined in the Indian constitution will be upheld by the Parliament.”