By Ola Ajayi, Ibadan
With the torrential rainfall that started penultimate Saturday evening and did not stop until Sunday, residents of Ibadan needed no prophet to tell them that God was probably angry. But, the cause of the anger, they may not know. When the rain eventually stopped on Sunday around 4pm, some houses were already submerged with scores of those living by the river bank running out of their residence to avoid being drowned.
Those who did not know the havoc it had wreaked were thanking God that the rain was not like the one that ravaged the city last August. But they were soon to know. Even while they were thanking God, the family members of Iyiola were also troubled having searched fruitlessly for two of their children and three other friends. Two policemen from the Special Anti Robbery Squad who were on leave were among the five people being searched for.
Though they had been declared missing since Saturday night, the family members still had a glitter of hope that they would be found. The family members had earlier warned Sunkanmi and Wole not to go out to the club because of the rain; besides, time was about 10.30pm. But all the pleas fell on deaf ears. It seemed the only sound they wanted to answer was the one saying their time on earth was over.
By divine providence, the sixth person that should have gone with them reportedly changed his mind and said he would come in his own car. About an hour later, the family members became suspicious that something tragic had happened when they made calls to the deceased persons phones and got no response. The sixth person was said to have got to the 411 Club that they said they were going to but did not find them there.
It was later discovered that the deceased persons changed their minds and went to another club along Ring Road. Having searched everywhere without their traces, the family members reported to the police who swung into action searching all the nooks and crannies for them.
After several efforts, they recovered the car they went out in Favour Canal, Ikolaba but could not find any of them inside. On Tuesday, in the morning, the police had a breakthrough. They found the bodies of three of the victims’ floating on Dandaru Dam. Tears flowed freely as hundreds of sympathizers that thronged the scene beheld the victims bloated bodies.
When the families of the deceased persons came, weeping became contagious. The relatives found it difficult to identify the bodies. An official of the National Emergency Management Agency tutored them on how to identify the bodies. He told them to look out for tattoos, for those who had it on their bodies, rings, among other things. As soon as some of them saw tattoos on the shoulders of the bodies, they wept uncontrollably with some of them rolling on the ground.
When Sunday Vanguard saw a woman that called herself the mother of two of the victims whose bodies were recovered, she declined comments, saying it would be awkward to grant interview on the death of her sons. She broke down in tears.
Mrs. Bunmi Qudus, an elder sister of Sunkanmi and Wole Iyiola, managed to speak some words. She looked blank as her lips moved slowly.
She said, “They were five in the car. They left home around 10.30pm on Saturday. They were probably coming from the club when their car fell inside the flood. They have only brought three out of the river. We have not seen the remaining two. We live at Oluwo nla in Bashorun area of the city. They came from Lagos. They didn’t know the Ibadan terrain. They were coming from the club”.
More pathetic was the case of Wole Iyiola who was said to have got married 11 days before the disaster. How would the new bride take the twist in her life”, a relation asked rhetorically?
The younger sister of the deceased refused to be consoled. “Ah, you should have listened when we were warning you not to go to the club. See the grief you have caused us. How can two children of the same mother die like this? Their father died when they were young. We told them not to go out. Iyiola(dead father), it seems you are sleeping in heaven”, the sister lamented.
She then took her phone and dialed a number telling the person at the other end they had found the two victims. Dead. “Please, let me see them”. As she surged forward, other relatives standing by stopped her.
While speaking on the incident, the Oyo State Police Public Relations Officer, DSP Olabisi Ilobanafor, said they could only identify two of the victims. They identified the one that had tattoos on both shoulders and the other by his wristwatch.
She said on Saturday, July 14, there was a downpour and at about 10.30am on Sunday, “a relative of the victims, Damilola Olasupo, informed the command that a group of five young men were on their way to the club. But, after they called them on phone, they could not contact them. They wanted to go to 411 Club but later changed their mind and went to Bubbles along Ring Road”.
Continuing, she said, “On Sunday, a search party was raised. The search party found the three bodies at Dandaru and informed us. We called the State Emergency Management Agency, and the Fire Service. We have recovered the three bodies.
“They are Sergeant Ojo Adelusi from Special Anti-Robbery Squad, Wole Iyiola and Sunkanmi Iyiola. We are still looking for Ope and Sunday Ijebo. We will go back to where the vehicle fell into the river. It fell at Tewogbade Bridge at Bodija. We later got the vehicle at Favour Canal, Bodija”.