Wished that he lived to become great
Wants govt to build overhead bridge to immortalize him
By Bose Adelaja, Monsuru Olowoopejo, Gabriel Olawale & Fredrick Okopie
ABOUT 24 hours after a Bus Rapid Transit, BRT, bus crushed a 16-year-old school boy, Daniel Ezekiel, to death at Ogolonto Bus Stop, along Ikorodu Road in Lagos, his guardians, Dr. and Mrs. Olajide Oyesanya, are yet to come to terms with the tragic reality of their loss. They are still in shock that their beloved Ezekiel is gone forever, and more so by the bizarre and cruel manner of his death. This is because the bus had on impact crushed and decapitated Ezekiel in a manner reminiscent of the guillotine horror of the French Revolution era.
In fact, Mrs. Oyesanya said on waking up Tuesday morning, she momentarily forgot that Ezekiel was gone and was waiting for him to knock on her door and say: “Grandma, I want to go to school”. But that knock never came. For now, theirs is a lamentation of pain laced with regret. The regret is that their wish of sending Ezekiel to school so that he would become great had ended in tragedy.
Yet when young Daniel left home in the morning of that fateful Monday, March 5, 2018, little did he or his guardians nurse any premonition that death was lurking like a remorseless, vengeful reaper on the way. Oyesanya told Vanguard Metro that after consuming a heavy meal that morning the boy was in high spirits and cheerfully waved them goodbye as he left home for the school. “But we didn’t know that was the last time we will see him,” they wept, adding: “We fed Ezekiel at 7:15am but picked up his corpse two hours later, at about 9:45am.”
Narrating their experiences on what transpired on the fateful day, a distraught Mrs. Oyesanya informed that since she enrolled Ezekiel in school last January, he had always taken his breakfast by 7:15am before proceeding to school at 7:20am.
“And on that fateful day, he left home to school. But I was alerted of the incident that happened by someone who told me to find out if Ezekiel was safe. Immediately I started calling his teacher, but she refused to pick my call. I thought they were on assembly ground so I called the school director who also didn’t pick my calls.
“At that moment, I knew there was a problem. I was confused and my husband also called to inform me to proceed to his school. On my way, someone told me that Ezekiel had been rushed to Ikorodu General Hospital.
“When I got to the hospital premises, I was told to identify the lifeless body of Ezekiel; at that moment, I knew I had lost our dear child. I couldn’t believe my eyes that the child I fed at exactly 7:15am had become a corpse for me to pick at exactly 9:45am,” she said amidst tears.
Our plans for Ezekiel
Mrs Oyesanya also lamented the fact that death truncated the lofty dreams they had for Ezekiel.
She said: “We are only two in this house, my husband and I. Since we are getting old and all our children are grown up, we thought it will be nice to have a small child that can keep us company. So we contacted a lady in our community to help us find someone to stay with us.
“They eventually helped us to get Ezekiel from the Northern part of the country; that was around August last year. Our initial plan was to enroll him in school by October this year but due to the fact that it was late to do so, we decided to enroll him in January this year, a decision I now regret.
“He was 15 years when they brought him to us, and they told us that he was in JSS3 in Kaduna State before he came to Lagos. But when we took him to school, they told us that he should start from Primary Four”.
She hinted that their aim of enrolling him in school was to ensure that he became a great person in future and to contribute his own quota to Nigeria’s development,adding: “Unfortunately that dream has been cut short by the BRT driver”.
Continuing she said: “He is a very pleasant child. Sometimes after offending me and I threatened to send him back to the village, he would beg me and say: ‘Mummy pray for me, I will not do that again’. People in this community liked him; and education wise, he showed a lot of promise.
“Whenever he returned from school, before taking his meal, he would do his assignment and ask me to look at it; and in case there was any error I would correct it for him”.
Ezekiel’s last moment
Sources said that Ezekiel alighted from a cab with other students, and they were being taking across in batches to the other side of the BRT corridor by the school security official. But misunderstanding the flag man’s signal, the boy was said to have attempted dashing across the BRT corridor, believing that the road was clear. Unfortunately he was hit by a fast-moving BRT bus. As a result of the impact, his head severed from his body. The driver was said to have taken to his heels immediately, for fear of possible mob action against him.
Mrs. Oyesanya said that Ezekiel’s family in Kaduna had been notified about his tragic demise. She informed that “their eldest sister lives around here”, adding: their parents gave birth to three of them. His father is late and the mother is in Kaduna”.
Asked by Vanguard Metro team to say what Ezekiel meant to him and his wife, Dr. Olajide Oyesanya was almost overwhelmed by emotion as he informed that doing so would entail him shedding uncontrollable tears. “To talk about Ezekiel will only make me to cry; yes, the moment I start doing so, tears will definitely start rolling down my cheeks. So, please just leave me,” he pleaded with feeling.
The Oyasanyas, however, would want government to construct a pedestrian bridge to immortalise Ezekiel and also serve the purpose of preventing a reoccurence of such tragic incident.
“There are more than four schools in that area. And that is why we have recorded several of such accidents. So we are begging Governor Ambode to please errect a pedestrian bridge there.
“That boy shouldn’t have died, his death is an avoidable one. Unfortunately he died in the pursuit of education in order to improve himself in life. It was just last Sunday Daddy said that if he(Ezekiel) worked hard, they may likely give him double promotion that will take him from primary 3 to 5 and then primary 6.
“We assisted him to do his revision homework the previous day and had hoped to continue when he returns that Monday, but as you know, he didn’t return.
“His friends in this area are still in shock; many of them find it difficult eating since they heard the sad news.
“I have nursed many children but Ezekiel was exceptional; and that’s why his death has hit me so hard. My husband and I have helped so many disadvantaged children; our intention is to help them achieve greatness.
“I told tell Ezekiel that if there was never anyone great in his family, we would ensure that his case would be different.
“In this area, everybody liked him. They use to call him Omo Mama Doctor”.
Sympathisers throng home
Meantime, sympathisers have continued to throng the home of the Oyesanyas to commiserate with them over the tragic loss of their adopted child and to pray for the repose of the soul of the departed. Vanguard Metro also gathered that among those who visited since the incident were some of the officials of the State Universal Basic Education Board, SUBEB; Primero Transport Company, owners of BRT and Christ Apostolic Church, CAC.
Most of those who visited were united in the demand that the Lagos State Government must erect a pedestrian bridge to prevent another accidental death in the area.
Victims recount ordeal
Incidentally it is not only the late Ezekiel Daniel’s guardians and loved ones who are still mourning and counting their loss, it was also lamentation galore in Agric, Ogolonto and Majidun areas by some individuals who claimed to be victims of similar road accidents. Recounting their own experiences, some of them informed that their beloved ones were either maimed or lost their lives due to road accidents occasioned by recklessness of drivers of Bus Rapid Transit BRT.
A 30-year-old mother of two, Madam Modinat Bomi, said though she narrowly escaped death in one such accident, she is presently suffering from loss of her entire dentition, fractured limbs and chest pain. She said she was knocked down by a reckless BRT driver in the course of sourcing for her daily bread at the Ogolonto area.
According to the petty trader, who had been nick-named “Aloku BRT” (BRT scrap), she was knocked down by the driver during the Easter season of 2017. One year after the incident, she is still awaiting the fulfilment of the promises made to her by Primero Transport Services. She said the accident and the failure of the company to fulfill their promises has left her both psychologically and emotionally stressed.
Her story : “I used to be a hardworking and happy woman until the acccident of April 2017 which rendered me hopeless with gradual loss of health. A day after Easter Monday, I was among many commuters at Ogolonto Bus-stop, waiting to board a bus to Ikorodu garage. Suddenly , I was hit by the side mirror of a BRT bus and before I realised what was happening, the bus knocked down. As usual, the driver wanted to escape the scene save for prompt intervention of sympathisers. Meanwhile, I was unconscious and was taken to two hospitals, both private and public, before I was referred to the Lagos University Teaching Hospital LUTH, Idi-Araba where I spent six weeks after the first round of surgeries was performed on me.
“The incident gulped a total of N870,000 which of course grounded my means of livelihood as I have to sell off everything in order to raise money to offset the medical bill. Before the accident, I owned a shop and was dealing on provisions at wholesale prices. But following that the incident, I am now a road side trader battling with unstable health condition.
“As I am talking to you, I am yet to complete my treatment due to shortage of fund; moreso, the doctors have recomended two surgeries but I could not meet up with both. I suffer chest pains regularly and my dentition is no longer the same (she showed our reporter some bruises on her head and chest). To make matters worse, my health continues to deteriorate daily and I feel as if I’m getting closer to the grave except urgent measures are taken to rescue me”.
Madam Bodina said though three representatives of the Transport company, two men and a woman visited her twice on her sick bed but her expectations were not met. “ The representatives only paid N70,000 out of the bill leaving me with the remaining N800,000 and since then, they never borthered about me,” she said.
Modina is not the only victim in the area, about 12 other victims have been knocked down by hit and run BRT drivers amongst them was a four years old pupil, three motocyclists, a sand supplier and a petty trader.
One of them simply identified as “Gbowoe” was allegedly killed by one of the buses on his way from a new generation bank where he went to collect the sum of N200,000 to offset his house rent and children school fees.
Another was one newly wed Mr Ayinde who was allegedly killed few weeks to the delivery of his first child.
The four years old pupil was said to be carried by her mother when one of the buses hit both mother and child but only the baby was seriously injured while her mother escaped uninjured.
Other residents lamented wrong citing of pedestrian bridge by the government. They said the pedestrian bridge by the BRT shelter at Ogolonto renders little or no service to pedestrians and they called on government to urgently cite abother one at Idiroko bus-stop.
Another observation by resident was that the side mirror of BRT is too pointed and can easily hit commuters.