Cameroonian authorities indicated during the week that they gave a prior warning to Nigeria before the Lagdo dam water release that caused deadly flooding in parts of Adamawa State at the weekend.
The Foreign Affairs Ministry, Water Resources Ministry, Governor Murtala Nyako and the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) were told about the impending floods days ahead, Cameroon’s deputy high commissioner to Nigeria, Mr. David Sinou, told a correspondent.
A note verbale dated August 23 written to the Foreign Affairs Ministry in Abuja, and copied to the others, stated: “The High Commission of the Republic of Cameroon presents its compliments to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and has the honour to intimate to the latter, the Lagdo Dam on the River Benue in Cameroon due to excessive rainfall this year has nearly reached the limit of its capacity.
“It is therefore expected that if recorded rainfall continues as it is in the next one week, the banks of the said dam will overflow, and intermitted release of its content will be done.
“In anticipation of the possible flooding of its plains and coupled with the spirit of article 111, paragraph 3, of the 5th session of the joint commission between Cameroon and Nigeria, that took place in Abuja, in November 2010, relating to the exchange of information on the activities of the Lagdo Dam and the Lake Nyos, the Cameroonian authorities are notifying the Nigerian government in order to take the necessary pre-emptive and precautionary measures, by informing the relevant Nigerian authorities within the potentially prone regions so as to avert collateral damages that may ensue from the release of water.
“The High Commission avails itself of this opportunity to renew to the ministry the assurances of its highest consideration.”
Ambassador Sinou, however, sympathised with the people and government of Nigeria over the deadly flooding.
When contacted the Foreign Affairs ministry spokesman Mr. Ode Ogbole said he would have to find out first if the Cameroon letter was actually received.
We alerted affected states-NEMA
NEMA acknowledged receiving the Cameroon warning but said it went on to alert authorities in Adamawa and neighboring states on possible flooding prior to the release of the Lagdo dam water.
The agency’s director general Muhammad Sani-Sidi told Daily Trust in Abuja yesterday that after receiving the warning from Cameroon on August 23, they immediately alerted Borno, Adamawa, Taraba and Benue state governors whose states were at risk.
But he did not say what exactly those states did in response to the alert.
Sani-Sidi said so far 15 people were confirmed dead in the Adamawa flood, as reported by Daily Trust on Monday.
He said 10,524 persons were affected in 10 local governments. “This sudden release of a large volume of cascading waters from the reservoir has put so many communities in this area at risk; threatened human lives, disrupted socio-economic activities, led to environmental degradation and large scale ecological dislocation,” he added.
Sani-Sidi said more water release is being expected through to October. A report from the Cameroonian authorities “indicated that if the trend of heavy rainfall experienced this year continues in the next few weeks, more water will be released from the reservoir till October this year,” he said.