The devastating flood that ravaged most communities situated along the banks of River Benue in October 2012, when Cameroonian authorities released excess water from Lagdo Dam not only washed away houses and farmlands in Duguri district of Alkaleri Local Government Area of Bauchi State, but also brought with it some species of dangerous snakes which to date have killed more than 200 people in the district.
According to the district head of Duguri, Adamu Mohammed, "we have lost over two hundred people in this district since the floods of last year to date”.
In Shafa Village, the village head, Adamu Abdullahi said, “even yesterday, someone was bitten by a snake while working on his farm, and he died on the way to the hospital. In fact I also lost my daughter, Sadiqa, after she was bitten by a puff adder (an African viper specie) while sleeping in her room. She died in less than fifteen minutes after she was bitten. She was 14-years-old,” he added.
Abubakar Umar, a resident of Duguri, said that the snakes have killed and continue to kill residents of the affected villages. He added that the villagers have also intensified in their efforts to “haunt the snakes and kill them”.
He said they decided to confront the reptiles after realising that government help is not forth coming.
According to the district head of Shafa. “Since this disaster befell us, there is no family that has not lost a loved one to these snakes, and I am talking of about ten villages populated with over fourteen thousand people,” he said. Whoever is bitten by the snakes and is lucky to survive for over 15 minutes is taken to the General Hospital in Kaltungo, Gombe state which is over two hundred kilometres away.
He also said it cost N20, 000 to chatter a vehicle to transport each person from Shafa to Kaltungo and N13,000 from Duguri to the place and an additional thirteen thousand is also paid for a dose of anti-snake venom if the ones provided by the government are out of stock,” he said.
According to reports, Dora Akunyuli led a presidential subcommittee on flood relief and rehabilitation to Duguri district in November last year, she promised the people that samples of the snakes would be taken to determine the appropriate anti-venom vaccines.
According to the Galadima of Duguri “we did not hear from the Federal Government till date and just like she said we are in danger now. The snakes have killed over two hundred of our people since her team left us”.
The community leaders also said that a team of officials from Bauchi State Ministry of Health again visited the area two weeks ago and promised that help would come within days but they are yet to hear from them.
On his part, Mr. Yusuf said, “Government officials came here and spoke with some of the victims of the snake bites whose arms and legs were amputated. After that they just left without saying or doing anything for them”.
They added that so far, only the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Bala Mohammed, who is from Duguri Village, has come to their aid.
The people are appealing to the government to come to their aid by building a hospital dedicated to the treatment of snake bites in the area just like the one in Kaltungo.