…Frustration made me take a dive – barren woman
…Strange voices were asking me to plunge – survivor
By Evelyn Usman
Uneasy calm pervades the Gbagada home of the Daibos, whose son, Toju Davies, was reported to have plunged into the lagoon from the Third Mainland bridge in Lagos, last Saturday.
Twenty-one-year-old Toju, who had just completed his First degree study in Quantity Survey, from the University of Lagos, had ordered for uber penultimate Saturday. However, midway into the journey, he was reported to have begged the driver to stop, on reaching the Third Mainland bridge, explaining that he had stomach upset.
The uber operator, Idowu Badmos, who was arrested by the Police to explain what happened, said after Toju alighted from the Toyota Corolla car with plate number KSF 426 GB, he jumped over the railings , plunging into the lagoon , before anyone could stop him.
At the moment, no one has been able to fathom what could have prompted such suicidal action from the 21-year-old. In fact, his distraught family members who are still smarting from the tragedy, are yet to come to term with the explanation that Toju, took the suicidal plunge. This is because they described him as a level headed individual who never had any factor linked with risk factors of suicide, such as drug addiction and depression.
Besides, plans as gathered, were underway to fly him to Canada, where he was to continue with his study. But first, he had to complete the compulsory one year National Youth Service Corps, NYSC before embarking on the trip. He was reportedly preparing to leave for Abuja for service when tragedy struck.
As at Thursday, his body was yet to be recovered by rescue operators, another reason many are of the opinion that there could be more that meet the eyes than the report that he plunged into the lagoon.
His family, has therefore called for a proper investigation into the matter to unravel its exact cause.
Suicide, is one of the three leading causes of death among youths, both in Nigeria and in the western world. In Nigeria, there have been reported cases of persons taking popular insecticide: sniper, to end their lives, for several reasons bothering on frustration and inability to face the challenges of the time. .
But suicide by jumping into the lagoon, especially in Lagos, has become a recurring decimal. Some occurred without one seeing when the victim plunged into the lagoon and therefore were unreported. It is not uncommon to find bloated bodies, with some in their decomposing states , along the sea shores in the riverine areas in Lagos.
But others happened with eye witnesses giving details of how the victim took the plunge.
One of such was in November 2018, when a driver with the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria, reportedly took a suicidal dive into the lagoon from the same Third Mainland bridge in Lagos.
The man was said to have alighted from a commercial bus conveying him and some of his colleagues to work and dived into the lagoon immediately. Witnesses said he had pretended that he wanted to ease himself.
Operatives of the Rapid Response Squad (RRS) of the Lagos State Police command who rushed to the scene immediately, could not rescue him. But in his case, his corpse was later retrieved through the support of local divers.
A Medical doctor at the Mount Sinai Hospital in Surulere area of Lagos, Allwell Oji, also top the list of persons who took the suicidal dive from the Third Mainland bridge, in year 2017. He was said to be on his way to Victoria Island for a meeting with the Medical and Dental Association of Nigeria when the incident happened.
Henry Ita, driver of the deceased , revealed that his boss, left his Abule-Ijesha home, in his grey coloured Nissan SUV at about 4:50 pm, during a family prayer session between him, his mother and a Pastor.
His driver , told the Police then, that “ “he had been home all day. He was casually dressed in trousers and long sleeve shirt when he called me to take him out. He sat in front but did not speak to me or anyone on the phone until we got to a point on the Third Mainland Bridge.
“He ordered me to park, saying he wanted to urinate. He alighted from the car and immediately climbed the rail. Before I could alight from the car, he had jumped into the lagoon.”
His corpse was later recovered too.
Barely six days after late Dr.Orji’s incident, the Police in Lagos rescued two women who attempted to jump into the lagoon from the Third Mainland and Carter bridges.
One of them, Taiwo Momoh, was in a cab heading towards Lagos Island, when she ordered the cab driver to stop, on reaching Oworoshoki. She was said to have removed her shoes and was wrapping her dress around her waist tightly, in preparation to plunge into the lagoon when operatives of the Rapid Response Squad , RRS of the Lagos State Police command who were stationed at the point, held her.
Momoh, a textile dealer at Balogun market created a scene on the bridge as she insisted to be left alone to end it all, so as to be free from the debt she owed some importers.
The lady, who lives in Lekki, Lagos claimed that she was pushed into attempting suicide in order to put an end to her constant sleeplessness and shame occasioned by her indebtedness to four different importers whose names she gave as Ridmon, Helen, Mathias and an undisclosed one , to the tune of $10,000 , $7,000, $5,000 and $2,000 respectively.
She noted that her problem started sometimes in 2015, when a Bureau De Change dealer duped her of N18.7 million, which she wanted to change to pay her foreign creditors. She added that the creditors had given her Swiss textiles worth several millions of naira, noting that she had maintained good relationship with the creditors for more than 15 years.
She said that her condition was compounded when robbers invaded her shop in Lagos Island, carting away almost all the textile. She emphasized that most of the time she had been having sleepless nights and seeing the ghosts of the creditors whenever she was alone.
According to Momoh, “added to all these, my first son, whom I felt would stand by me and console me, abandoned me. By the time I’m gone, perhaps he would come around and inherit what is left. I don’t want to use my debts and death to disturb anybody. I was in the shop this morning.
“I have looked everywhere and estimated what was left. With my house, a bungalow, those I am leaving behind can still live comfortably. I want to go and meet God. This world is empty.
“I won’t join cult group because I want to get rich, I was a Muslim and because of this problem I have been jumping from one faith to the other. The problem is too much for me to bear. I want to go back to God. That is why I have dressed very simply, I am ready to meet Him. If He cannot address my problem on earth, let me go back to Him”.
In another suicide attempt by one Mrs. Abigael Ogunyinka, who was also rescued by fishermen same day with Momoh, she said she wanted to end it all because she was frustrated with life. Lamenting that life had been unfair to her, she said she had no child and that her husband and only friend was at that time sick.
The woman who was 61-year-old then, said she decided to end it all because she was unable to get medicine for her husband who was down with stroke. She said she had so far collected loan of N150,000, but decided to take her life following disturbances from those she owed.
In June 2018, a woman with an unknown identity plunged into the lagoon on 3rd Mainland, at 8.45pm.
There were however, conflicting accounts as to how the incident happened. A version of the account said that the woman was a passenger in a taxi, driving inward Lagos Island, when she told the driver to stop.
Thereafter, she reportedly alighted from the vehicle, crossed the road and plunged into the lagoon. Another version had that the deceased was a man, who parked his Ford Explorer car on top of the 3rd Mainland bridge before plunging into the lagoon.
Another case was that of 36-year-old Ikechukwu Ibeh , who attempted to end his life by jumping off the Lekki Link Bridge on Admiralty way Lekki phase 1
He was lucky to have been rescued by officials of the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency’s marine Unit.
A statement issued the agency’s Public Affairs officer, by Nosa Okunbor, said “situation report on the attempted suicide Incident at 37 Admiralty Way Lekki Phase 1, revealed an adult male, Ikechuwku Ibeh, aged 36 years plunged into the lagoon around the Lekki-Ikoyi link bridge.
“Upon interrogation, he lamented that his decision to take his own life was as a result of some financial difficulties, depression and diminished reasons to live.
However, the victim was counseled out of the act by the staff of LASEMA and eventually rescued from the lagoon by the Sharks Squad alongside LASWA officials, The Bravo Unit of LASEMA examined him upon recovery for any signs of fractures and self inflicted life threatening injuries and thereafter, he was handed over to policemen at Maroko Police Station for further actions”.
But a politician, Al-Mustaim Abaniwonda, was not as lucky as Ibeh. This is because nine years ago, the bloated body of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP chieftain in Lagos, who reportedly jumped into a lagoon in Marina, Lagos, was recovered , two days after the incident.
The deceased who was the PDP’s Senatorial candidate for Lagos East in the April 9, 2011 National Assembly elections but lost to his opponent ,met his death after he allegedly jumped into the lagoon at Marina, Lagos.
But his widow, Kudirat, was reported to have said that her husband slipped and fell inside the lagoon as he was about urinating.
His family, had described report that Abaniwonda committed suicide as a blatant lie, asserting that drowning himself would have been the last resort as he had phobia for water. The late Abaniwonda, 56, was among the list of 10 nominees sent to former
President Goodluck Jonathan for consideration as minister from Lagos State. But he never lived to know his fate.
The remains of Abaniwonda, who was a management consultant , was sighted by 8 a.m, behind Bonny Camp, after a 40-hour search, by local divers contracted by family members, who subsequently, contacted policemen attached to the Marine division.
Elsewhere in Bayelsa state, last year, one Uzakah Timi Ebiweni, a 300 level Medical student of the Niger Delta University, took a fatal plunge into a river close to the university campus, Amassoma, after failing his examination.
He was said to be among 50 students out of 169 who sat for the Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) exam but failed. In compliance with the general practice, every student must pass the Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) exams before progressing to the next level of academic pursuit, or drop out.
Unfortunately, 21-year-old Ebiweni and his colleagues were said to have failed beyond the level they could be placed on academic probation for another academic year. Consequently, they were withdrawn and the action that followed his withdrawal was disastrous.
But some persons that perished in the Lagos lagoon did not deliberately do so. Rather, it was caused by accident. An instance was the case of a family that was driving out of Bonny Camp axis of Victoria Island into the Lagos Island , in an ash colour salon car with plate number MUS 38 BL, three years ago.
Unfortunately, the car skidded off the road and plunged into the Lagoon, killing the wife and child while the man was rescued .
Retired Military officer
Same year, a Ford Explorer SUV, fell into the lagoon, at the University of Lagos Waterfront end of the bridge, after somersaulting on the Third Mainland bridge. Occupants in the vehicle were later discovered as a retired Air Vice Marshal, Olufunsho Martins and his driver.
Mr. Martins, who owned Martinos Events Centre and Hotel Suites in Agidingbi, Ikeja, was heading to Funsho Martin’s Avenue, Park View Estate, when his vehicle collided with another, at about 10.55 p.m, penultimate Saturday.
Strange voices responsible
Questions on why most cases of suicidal dives into the Lagos lagoon took same dimension, were answered by one of the survivors, a lady identified simply as Elzabeth, two years ago. In her case, she stated that out of frustration, she left her home at Owoshoki and took a long stroll on the Third Mainland.
She said she was forced to return home to face the challenge , following her experience . She said, “ as I was walking on the Third Mainland bridge, I heard a voice saying jump into the lagoon. I thought someone was behind me. But when I turned there was no one.
Again , I heard the voice, this time around, louder and repeatedly. I screamed and ran towards the railings but a dispatch rider shouted at me not to jump into the lagoon. It was at that point that I realized what I was about to do. Perhaps if the dispatched rider had not cautioned me, I would have been counted among those that plunged into the lagoon”.
Unknown to many, suicide or its attempt contravenes section 233 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State 2015. An accused may, on conviction, be sentenced to a life imprisonment according to the provisions of the section.
Those prevented from diving into Lagos State lagoon were charged to court for attempting to commit suicide.
In the case of Taiwo Momoh, the trader who attempted to jump into the lagoon over debt owed, she was arraigned before an Ebute Meta Chief Magistrates Court, on a charge of attempting to commit suicide , in April 2017 but she pleaded not guilty.
The Chief Magistrate, Mr A.T. Elias, admitted the accused to a bail of N500,000 with two responsible sureties in like sum. He also directed that the woman be taken to a psychiatric hospital for evaluation before the case was adjourned to a later date for mention. But its outcome was unknown.