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Did hoodlums burn two moving trains in Offa?

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By Abdulrasheed HAMMAD


FALSE claims circulated across the social media platform and numerous media outlets that the hoodlums burnt a moving train on Wednesday, 6th, October 2021 in Offa Railway Station.

The Punch newspaper published the report on Thursday, 7 October 2021 that the moving train from Lagos was set ablaze by hoodlums in Offa Railway Station on Tuesday.

Daily Trust published a similar report on Wednesday, October 6, 2021, that a train conveying passengers and goods has been set on fire in Offa Local Government, Kwara State.

This report has generated a lot of controversies and criticism from the general public as shown in the comment section of the report on Facebook pages of the two national dailies, where some people suggested that the government should declare a state of emergency in Offa.

The post on the Punch Facebook official page had over 3000 likes,  2000 comments and 1000 shares at the last check.

Numerous media outlets, bloggers, and Nigerians have republished it on their platforms.

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The news report read thus: ”Hoodlums set Kano-bound train on fire in Kwara, two coaches burnt.

“The Kwara State Fire Service said on Wednesday that it rescued about 13 coaches of a north-bound good train from burning by fire in the Offa area on Tuesday.

“The train which was coming from Lagos was reportedly set ablaze by some hoodlums when it had a stop-over for repairs at the Offa Railway station.”

The Daily Trust report read: “Man Flees After Setting Train On Fire In Kwara

A train used to convey passengers and goods has been set on fire in Kwara State.

Two out of 15 coaches of the train were affected in the incident which occurred in Offa local government area of the state, on Wednesday.”

Verification

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The ICIR observed that the picture used in the report published by Punch newspaper is not from Offa. The picture was first used on 1st of May, 2018 in a report with the headline “US to improve rail service in Nigeria” as shown in Tineye reverse image tool.

However, the image used by Daily Trust is the original photo of the incident, but the report indicated that the burnt coaches is of a moving train from Lagos.

This claim is False.

The ICIR  confirmed that the burnt train is an abandoned coaches not moving coaches from Lagos  as claimed.

A staff of National Railway Corporation workers in Offa told The ICIR that  the last time the train passed through Offa railway station was on Tuesday, 28, September 2021, noting that the one that was supposed to pass through their railway station on Friday, 1st October 2021 was cancelled due to Public holiday. And none has passed since then.

“The last one took off on Tuesday, 28, September 2021 and was supposed to come back last week Friday from Lagos, but it was cancelled due to public holiday.” He said the train would pass on Friday October 8.

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The purported train  that was burnt were abandoned coaches, he clarified.

A resident in Offa,  Abdul Yakeen Rilwan collaborated his claim, saying the report by Punch newspaper  is misleading.

The burnt train was among the abandoned coaches that are no longer in active usage by the Railway Corporation, he said.

It has been there for the more than five years.

“The report puts our community in a bad light of harbouring criminals who go on to perpetuate violence unchecked, thus instilling fear in the minds of people in our dear community.”

He asked Punch newspaper to apologise to Offa community for publishing false report that put their community in bad light.

Another resident who shared the video of the burning coach online explained what indeed happened.

He said a smoker who left smouldering remnant of his weed in the coach caused the fire.

The chairs inside the coach caught fire and spread to another  coach, he revealed in the video released.

The Offa Descendant Union has also released a press statement signed by Maruf Olalekan Ajenifuja, the spokesman.

The statement confirmed that the two coaches that caugh fire have been abadoned for more than five years, and become a hideout for miscreants.

The Union called on the NRC to work with the security agencies to get rid of miscreants occupying their properties in Offa.

 Verdict

Therefore, the claim that hoodlums burnt moving trains in Offa is FALSE.

As of the time of fact-checking this, both reports have not been deleted.

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