Front page of “The Nation” newspaper of Saturday September 16, 2023 Headline: “Only God can understand my trauma, says man who lost wife, daughter, 14 other relatives in boat mishap”
“When Ahmed Mohammed bid his wife, three year-old-daughter, sisters and brothers’ wives goodbye as they headed for their farms in their old settlement across the River Niger last Sunday morning, he had no inkling that he was seeing them for the last time.
But midway into the journey between Jebba and Kanji Dam in Gbajibo Ward, Mokwa Local Government Area, Niger State, the boat in which they were travelling capsized after running into a water snag.
The boat, according to the Niger State Emergency Management Agency (NSEMA), had 100 passengers on board when it capsized on Sunday.
Speaking with newsmen during a condolence visit to the family of the deceased, Ahmed said the incident was still a nightmare he was praying to wake up from, adding only God could understand how he felt about it.
He said: “My wife, my daughter, my brothers’ wives and all my sisters were inside the boat. I cannot say much. I leave everything to God.
“I don’t have any explanation, because if I want to ask for an explanation as to what happened, who will give me the explanation?
“My mind is always going to them. I feel bad because since I came into this world, I have never experienced anything as bad as this.
“The way I am feeling, it is only God that can understand.”
Mohammed’s mother-in-law, Hajiya Kashi Mokwa, who also lamented the death of her daughter, grandchildren and other members of her family in the boat accident, described the incident as a severe disaster and great loss to the family.
“We are devastated by the mishap,” she said.
“Losing 16 members of your family is a severe disaster and it has happened to us. It has been a traumatic experience for me and the rest members of my family.
“When you lose 16 members of your family at once, how easy is it to bear the tragedy? We want government to come and help us. These boat mishaps are becoming too many.”
Mokwa explained that water transportation is the main means of transportation in the community as they always have to pass through the water to get to their farms and major markets.
Members of the affected communities accused the government of non-chalance in the provision of life jackets, calling on the government to stop making political statements regarding its availability.
They insisted that the number provided were far from adequate compared to the huge number of residents who must travel on water from time to time.
No fewer than 24 bodies were recovered on the first day of the rescue mission on Sunday, while six other bodies were recovered afterwards, bringing the death toll to 30.
On Wednesday, the Niger State Emergency Management Agency (NSEMA) declared that there were no more bodies to look for as no one else had been reported missing.
The agency declared that 100 people were on board the boat when it capsized.
The Chairman Mokwa Local Government Council, Jubril Abdullahi Muregi, said during a condolence visit to the affected families that the incident would have been avoided if safety measures had been adhered to by the drivers and passengers of the boat, adding that the government would need to clear the underwater snags responsible for repeated boat accidents on the river.
Muregi said: “One of the things that the government should do quickly is to embark on an operation to clear these trees that are under the river so that the incident would not repeat itself.
“It is an avoidable situation. There is need for every passenger using water transportation to use a life jacket.
“We will have to come up with a clear government policy that will prescribe punishment for anybody who fails to use their life jackets when embarking on water transportation.”
The Council Chairman moved from house to house to condole the bereaved families and gave an undisclosed amount of money for funeral expenses.”
– Front page of “Saturday Tribune” newspaper of September 16, 2023. Headline: “I grabbed my father’s neck, strangled him, then got a knife to cut his private parts.” – 20 year-old suspect
“A 20-year-old suspect, Ridwan (surname withheld), who allegedly strangled his septuagenarian father, Pa Yisau Adewale, to death before removing his penis, scrotum and other body parts, has said that he was pushed into the act because of hunger and the fact that he couldn’t get regular menial jobs to engage in for survival.
The suspect made the disclosure in an interview with Saturday Tribune at the State Criminal Investigation Department, Eleweran, Abeokuta in Ogun State Police Command.
The suspect also made it known that he initially escaped from his family residence at Oshoko Village in Ijebu North Local Government Area of the state when his younger brother came in, saw their father dead and covered with blood, and raised the alarm. However, he was eventually nabbed hours after a search for him began.
It was learnt that the suspect was initially apprehended by the Ogun State Community, Social Orientation and Safety Corps, codenamed So-Safe Corps, before he was handed over to Ogbere Divisional Police Headquarters, from where he was transferred to the State Criminal Investigation Department (SCID), Eleweran, Abeokuta, for further investigation.
Before the arrest of the suspect on Thursday, August 31, officers of the So Safe Corps reportedly got information on the murder of the father, aged 75. On getting to the house, they were shocked to see the man’s lifeless, blooded body while the alleged perpetrator had fled.
Immediately, they, with the support of vigilante and community members, started searching for the suspect and eventually found him in a bush where he hid. He thereafter confessed to strangling his father, after which he used a knife to remove the body parts he needed for money ritual.
He told the So Safe Corps that he only removed the private parts, also, known as Adam’s Apple, gogongo in Yoruba language, and four teeth of his father as requested by a native doctor he identified as Baba Kekere.
When asked about the whereabouts of the native doctor, he was said to have refused giving the details, but in an interview with Saturday Tribune at the State CID, he disclosed the name of the native doctor as Baba Awogbemi, who lives at a distance from Iyana Church area of Ibadan.
Saturday Tribune learnt his mother told Homicide detectives that three days before the suspect eventually killed his father, he had made the same attempt, strangling him when others were not around. Then, fortunately for the man, members of his family who went to their farm arrived home, forcing Ridwan to quickly loosen his grip on the father’s neck.
Shocked by the act, his mother and siblings asked why he attempted to kill his father, and he gave the excuse that Pa Yisau offended him by beating him, which made him to strangle him in retaliation. He was said to have prostrated and begged his father for forgiveness. The soft spot for a son made Pa Yisau to forgive Ridwan immediately, while he ordered his wife and children not to reveal the suspect’s misdeeds to neighbours. Unknown to the entire family, the young man was waiting for an opportune time to carry out his intention.
On the day he eventually did, it was gathered that he was supposed to go with his mother and siblings to the farm but he feigned illness, saying that he was not strong enough to cope with farm work.
In the interview with Saturday Tribune, Ridwan, an indigene of Ibadan, Oyo State, explained himself thus: “I live with my elder half brother in my father’s house at Iyana Church, Ibadan. My father had a wife before marrying my mother as the second one. The first wife was still married to my father before his death but was living in another house in Ibadan also. However, my father and mother, in her 40s, live in Oshoko Village at Area J4, Ogun State. They were into farming.
“I stopped schooling at JSS 3 and became an apprentice in generator repair. After I concluded training and got my freedom, I went to stay with my parents in the village to find farm jobs to do. This was because I was finding it difficult to survive, as I was hungry all the time.
“Initially, we were getting jobs from those who wanted to repair generators but it came to a point we were not getting such to do again. I joined my parents in December 2022. The menial jobs were coming bit by bit, and it was a little better than when I was in Ibadan.”
How I thought of killing my father for ritual “Like I said before, I was stricken by poverty. I was always hungry; also my siblings. We are four from my mother to my father but one of us, a female, had been taken to someone to be a maid. Three of us were living with my parents in the village.”
Text of an address delivered at University of Nigeria at the Conferment on Mr. Ben Etiaba on 20th September, 2023.