By; Sunday Ode, Abuja.
Driver of the ill-fated vehicle that killed late Minister of Labour and Employment (State), James Ocholi, in a crash on Sunday, Mr Taiwo James Elegbede did not have driver’s licence.
This revelation was contained in an interim report presented to President Muhammadu Buhari by the Federal Roads Safety Commission (FRSC) at a special session of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) held in honour of the late minister on Wednesday.
The report presented by the Corps Marshal of the FRSC, Boboye Oyeyemi, also indicated that the late Minister and his son failed to use the rear seats belt.
“There was no record on the driver’s licence national data base of the driver of the Hon. Minister with the name Taiwo James Elegbede.
“The ejection of the Minister and his son who occupied the rear seat confirmed the fact that their rear seat belt were not in use and on the contrary, the Driver and the Orderly survived because the front seats belt were in use,” the report said.
According to the report also, the driver was moving at excess speed and slammed at his brakes too hard at the time the fatal accident occurred.
FRSC in the report attributed the cause of the accident to the inability of the driver to maintain the directional control of the vehicle when the rear left tyre burst.
The report further suggested: “Information gathered revealed that the driver of the crashed vehicle was actually moving at excess of the stipulated speed when he had a tyre burst.
“The crashed vehicle driver was driving too fast and he slammed on his brake so hard. These two factors materially contributed to the inability of the driver to maintain control when the left rear tyre burst.
“Skid marks and grooves found on the westbound shoulder made by the Lexus LX570 for about 15m and 9.3m respectively before it began somersaulting severely and the ejection of the minister and his son showed clearly that the travelling speed of the Lexus LX570 presented unsafe consequences in the event of certain road risk that may have occurred.
“The driver must have entered into a panic situation which resulted to his hard application of brakes and subsequent loss of control that took him into the bush part.
“The DOT number of the tyres were inward which cannot easily be read from outside. This indicate that the orientations of the tyres were not properly fixed which could adversely affect the performance of the tyres.
“The Federal Road Safety Corps Investigation Team (FIT) determines that the probable cause of the March 6, 2016 fatal crash at KM34 Kaduna -Abuja expressway near Rijana village Kaduna State was the driver’s failure to maintain directional control of his vehicle when the rear left tyre burst occurred.
“Severity of the fatality was increased due to the ejection of the Minister and his son as a result of non use of rear seat belt.
The Corps recommended among other things for the certification and re-certification of convoy drivers at intervals of 2years of issuance of convoy driver’s licence.
“President Buhari to lead the campaign on compliance with speed limits, starting with installation of speed limiting devises in commercial vehicles.”
Earlier in his tributes at the session, President Buhari eulogised Ocholi as a hardworking and humble person.
He said he was most attracted to the late Minister for agreeing to serve under his junior in the legal profession in some of the committees that were set up in the build up to the formation of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
Meanwhile, the Federal Government may prosecute the late Minister’s driver for infraction on road safety laws that may have resulted in the accident.
This indication emerged Wednesday during a press briefing at the end of the meeting of FEC.
Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), David Babachir Lawal while breifing State House correspondents said if the driver decides to ignore safety rules as suggested by the interim report, he would be prosecuted.
He added, however, that a final decision would be taken by relevant agencies of government after the conclusion of investigation.
The SGF also disclosed that all the burial expenditure for the late Minister would be born by the Federal Government, while the children of the deceased would be given automatic employment and scholarships accordingly.