•Narrates last moment with deceased
•How she narrowly escaped
By Evelyn Usman & Victor Arjiromanus
While Lagosians in general and residents of Abule-Ado in particular, are gradually settling down from the devastating effect of the explosion that rocked Abule-Ado area of Satellite in Lagos two weeks ago, same can not be said of Mrs Elizabeth Uyamadu and others who lost their loved ones as they are left to nurse the wounds from the tragedy.
Uyamadu, a widow in her 60s, presently looks a shadow of herself , as she claimed she did not only lose everything she and her late husband labored for, in the blast, but her 35-year-old son, Emmanuel Onyemaechi Uyamadu, an only one at that, whom she saw as a consolation for her husband’s death. She also lost her pregnant daughter-in-law, Chisom Jesofa Uyamadu and her 19-year-old house help, Chineye Manafa, in the explosion
The bond between her and her late son was so strong that they lived in the same premises on which were a storey building with four flats built by her late husband and another storey building with four flats built by her late son. Crime Guard gathered that late Onyemaechi and his heartthrob had their traditional marriage in April 2018 and their white wedding seven months after.
The bond between mother and son was extended to her daughter-in-law, as those not close to them never got to know the relationship between them, except they were told.
More painful was the fact that the pregnant woman who worked with Rain Oil as an Accountant, was preparing to write the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria, ICAN, examination on March 24, 2020, having written it last year but did not make it because she was three points below the cut-off grade.
Unfortunately, she did not live to re-write the ICAN examination. Rather, on the day of the examination, a Christian wake was held in her honor, her deceased husband and house help. Sympathizers thronged St. Joseph Catholic Church Abule-Ado for the Christian wake. Relatives and close friends also gathered at Zone 1, Road 2, on Oteyi Garden Estate, in Abule-Ado area of Satellite, home of late Onyemaechi’s elder sister, to pay their last respect to the couple and their house help. A cloud of gloom descended over the vicinity, with expressions of sorrow and despair on the faces of those around. Their remains were later interred at Erator village, in Igbakwu, Ayamelum Local Government Area of Anambra State.
Distraught mother’s account
Late Onyemaechi’s distraught mother sat at a corner looking downcast. When approached, she looked up with tear-filled eyes and narrated the devastating blow the explosion dealt her.
Her words: “ That fateful Sunday, my son, Emmanuel Uyamadu, his wife and their house help, Chineye Manafa, attended church by 6 am at St. Joseph Catholic Church. By the time they returned, I was preparing to attend the 8 am Mass. When I was ready to leave for church, I came out to the balcony and to my surprise, I saw the couple sweeping the compound while their house help was washing clothes by the gate. When I asked why they were sweeping, they told me not to bother, that I should hurry up to church because I was already running late. I left them and went to church.
“I was in church when I heard the explosion but I didn’t know it happened right in front of my house. After some time, my daughter, her husband with some other persons came to the church to pick me. They took me to my son in-law’s house. On the way to his house, I was suspicious that all was not well. It was at my son in-law’s house they broke the news to me, that my house was on fire, and that my son, his wife and house help were all in the burning house. Immediately, I jumped up and started running towards the house. On the way, I saw the flame of fire from afar and couldn’t move further. I stood watching how people were struggling to save my people from the fire, but it was too late, they couldn’t save them, I just watched everything I had burning away.
“Emmanuel was my only son and the second of two children I have. My son had a great personality and everybody loved him for that. If you came in contact with him for the first time, you would want to maintain friendship with him. He was a person who loved to see everyone happy and he could go to any extent to achieve that.
I lost my husband many years ago, but since my late son grew up, he became my husband. He took every responsibility of my late husband upon himself and catered for me and others.
The loss of my daughter-in-law is the second greatest pain to me. I loved her so much, in fact, she was closer to me than my biological daughter. Before she went to church that fateful Sunday, she dressed up and came into my room to ask how she looked, I told her she looked so beautiful and wonderful, and she was very happy.
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She was a humble and cool-headed woman. Despite the fact that she was a First Class graduate and worked in an Oil company, she never disrespected anyone.
The house help Chinenye was like a daughter to me. She was my late sister’s daughter, I trained her since she was four years old, until my son got married and she started living with them”.
Asked how she has been coping with the loss, she replied, “ It has not been easy for me. I have been living by the grace of God. It has been like a dream to me all this while, I just came to realize that it is real. I did not just lose my family, I lost everything I had. I lost the two houses my late husband and son built, including two cars: a Toyota Corolla and Venza my son just bought last month. They were all burnt to ashes. But, I have God. He is the highest consoler and has upper hand in everything. He is the only one I am seeing right now because he has upper hand in everything”, she said.
One of the sympathizers, Uchenna Ndubuisi, described late Onyemaechi as an easy-going fellow and a dedicated Christian.
He said, “Brother Onyemaechi was the Catholic Youth Organization of Nigeria CYON leader of Church of Annunciation before he joined St. Joseph Catholic Church Abule-Ado. I knew quite some things about him. One outstanding thing I can say about him was his humility. Despite being the only son of his late father, thus owning all his property, he did not allow it to get into his head. In fact, I just learned that he had a Masters Degree, yet, he succumbed to his mother’s directive to take over his late father’s business. I had a personal experience of his humility. One day, after church he was driving home and I flagged him, told him to reverse and pick the Rev. father who wanted to go out. He did as I instructed. He was that simple and humble. Brother Emmanuel hardly got angry, with anybody. I am not God, but, if I am to score him, I will give him credit and say he could make heaven.
Brother Emmanuel’s death should be a wake-up call to every young person, to get prepared for death and that there is more to life than what they are doing with their lives now”
Call on government
On the day of the Christian wake, a relative to late Onyemaechi, Chief Mike Nweke Okechukwu, called on the Lagos State Government to compensate victims of the blast, with a view to identifying with their plights and also to give them a sense of belonging.
Chief Okechukwu, in a letter to Governor Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State, said, “Dear Governor Sanwo –Olu, below are the names of my relatives who lost their lives in the Abule –Ado explosion:
- Mr. Onyemaechi Emmanuel Uyamadu , 35
- Mrs. Chisom Jesofa Uyamadu , 27 years(pregnant wife)
3.Miss Chineye , Husband’s relative.
Today is their wake-keep
Next-of –Kins are: Mrs. Uyamadu- 08033595107
Hon. Harrison Madubueze
All other correspondence should be directed to St. Joseph catholic Church, Abule-Ado, Lagos.
Signed by Chief Mike Nweke Okechukwu.