DEATH OF MOTHER AND CHILD IN FUEL EXPLOSION
By Chioma Nwafor, Nnenna Nwezi and Okoye Patience
This is certainly not the best of times for Mr Samuel Obiri, whose life literally came crashing like a pack of cardÂ following the loss of his wife and only child in an explosion caused by petrol.
The incident which the 45-year-old Ghanian transporter is yet to come to terms with, in spite of consolations from family members , friends and neighbors, occurred in their Olagoke abode in Ijegun area ofÂ Â Lagos state, two weeks ago.
Obiri who sat on the burnt remains of one of the sofas inÂ his sitting room, gave a blank stare at sympathizers who sat around him ,Â heaving sighs of pain and at the same time shaking his head intermittently in self pity.
At a point, he yelled, â€œ so youÂ meanÂ my wife and baby are gone just like that?, directing his question to no one in particular.
The circumstances that signaled the tragic incident which led to the eventual loss of everything he had labored for in his seventeen years of stay in Nigeria, started when he came homeÂ penultimate Thursday , 22nd of October, 2009 and his ailingÂ wife, 30-year-old Theresa, from Akwa-Ibom state,Â told him there was no kerosene with which to cook that night.
Rather than disturb her, he opted , like the loving husband he is, to go purchase kerosene from a near-by vendor himself . Time was 10pm.Â But that singular display of love and affection cost him the present irreparable loss, as the substance turned out to be petrol instead of kerosene. and the resultant effect? An explosion in whichÂ his wife and ten-month -old baby were engulfed. But fortunately for the Ghanian, he escaped with burns.
Explaining in a low tone of regret and lamentation how it all happened, he told Crime Guard â€œI came back from work that day andÂ my wife informed meÂ there was no kerosine in the house with which to cook and to put in the lantern. She also complained of chest pain. Rather than disturb her,Â I went with a gallon to get some kerosine as well as some drugs for my wife.
IÂ first went to a pharmaceutical store to buy some drugs before going to an Igbo woman popularly called Ebeano who sells kerosine, fuel and foodstuff. I asked her twice if she had kerosine and she answered in the affirmative.Â I then told her to sell half gallon but instead, she sold fuel to me without my knowledge.
â€œOn getting home, the lit lantern was fading out because there was no kerosene in it.Â And as I made toÂ re~fill the kerosene inside the lantern,Â the next thing I heard was an explosion, followed by fire which burnt part of my hand . I quickly rushed inside the bedroom, where my wife quickly jumped up and carried our ten month-old daughter, Blessing.
But we could not move out because of the fire. We were actually trapped inside and as we were struggling to escape from the sitting room, the child fell from my wife and as she made to lift her up, she got caught in the fireâ€.
At this point he kept mute, looking from one end of the sitting roomÂ to another and at the same time trying hard not to betray his emotion. Mrs Theresaâ€™s scream, as gathered, alerted neighbors who all the while were battling to gain entrance into the sitting room. In the midst of the whole commotion, was helpless Mr Obiri who remained in the bedroom, shouting at the top of his voice for rescue.
Before long, the burglary proof of one of the windows was pulled down by some brave sympathizers who immediately contained the fire and rescued little baby Blessing who was on fire. Continuing , Mr Obiri said, â€œ The baby was later rescued through the window by one of our neighbors , after the fire was put out. That was when I came out of the room.
IÂ could not believe the sight before me as I steppedÂ into the sitting room. Before me was my wife on the floor badly burnt.
Immediately after the incident, I took my child to Bengoz hospital but the doctor said he could notÂ handle the situation so I had to take her to Navy town Hospital where my neighbors rushed my wife to but unfortunately when I got to Navy Town Hospital , I found out that they rejected my wife and said they could not admit my child either since they rejected my wife .
I had to take my child to Holy family Hospital at Buba Marwa road, Ijegun, where she was admitted after depositing the sum ofÂ twenty-six thousand naira for her treatment.
â€œOn Saturday at the hospital, I was told toÂ carry my baby that her situation was getting worse. The nurses said they could not do anything about the situation. With tears in my eyes I carriedÂ my baby to General Hospital Ikeja ,where to my disappointment , they rejected her saying there was no bed space. At that point, I burst out in an uncontrollable tears , imagining how cruel human beingsÂ could be.
I asked them if they did not have pity on an innocent baby under-going such excruciating pains. But they did not respond.Â They did not even have pity on me, either, seeing me and my burnt right hand. With tears rolling down my cheeks I decided to take little Blessing to LUTH .
But unfortunately, she breathed her last on reaching LUTHâ€™s gate. â€œAs for my amiable and industrious wife, she was first rushedÂ to Navy Town hospital where she was rejected. From there, we went to LUTH and to our disappointment, she was rejected also.
The same thing happened in Igbobi . It was when we rushed her to general hospital Ikeja that she was eventually admitted and given treatment but unfortunately she gave up same two days later. My wife and daughter died same day .
â€œAs I speak, I have lost my wife and child and everything I have labored for in my seventeen years of stay in Nigeria.Â Where do I start from? Who do I love again?Â My whole life is shattered.
If not for the careless hospital we took my child to, she would have been alive. By carelessness I mean she was not given adequate treatment and the worst of it all was the manner with which she was rejected in tertiary hospitals.
If such hospitals could do this, then what should we expect from the private ones?
Theresa my wife, diedÂ because of the sacrifice she made to rescue Blessing who fell from her grip. She tried to save her from getting burnt but now they are both gone. What more will one live forâ€,he asked.
Attempt to get the response ofÂ Bengoz hospital management failed as the nurses approached claimed the doctor was too busy to attend to Crime Guard . Same response was given at Holy hospital, both located in Ijegun.
Meanwhile, the woman who allegedly sold the fuel in place of kerosine, ebeano as she is popularly known, has deserted her home. She reportedly fled on hearing about the incident, with members of her family and her whereabout is still unknown to those who live around.
Efforts made to find her whereabout hit thick wall as residents kept sealed lips when approached.