Linus Oota, Lafia
The trial of the Biblical Job wasn’t as severe as the tragedy that befell Tarveshima Jebe. In Job’s case, fate spared his wife. In Jebe’s case, fate took everything dear to him––wife and three kids––in one fell swoop. Two weeks after the catastrophe, Jebe, an indigene of Benue State from Ushongo Local Government Area, is still reeling from the shock of his gross loss.
He wished someone had warned him, “Beware of the Ides of September!” Not even a dream to give him a premonition of the epic disaster lurking ahead. He woke up that fateful day of September 15, a family man, married with kid but by the end of the day, his status had changed for the worse: a childless widower.
Overwhelmed by grief, he cut a pathetic figure, a man who has wrestled with fate and lost. He tarried to pulled himself out of the depth of despondency he was plunged into by his misery during a brief interview with the Saturday Sun correspondent. In an emotion laden voice, he recounted the fatal motor accident that wiped out his family––wife Ngumimi Comfort, 32, and his children, David Jebe Jnr., 10, Iwueseter Beauty, who is seven years old, and two-year-old Muthie Favour.
The remains of the deceased, who all perished along Nasarawa Eggon/Lafia road in a bus accident that left no survivor, had been buried on September 18 in Tse Jebe in Mbagba, Mbahine, Ushongo Local Government Area.
The day of the accident
Fighting hard to get the story out before he was overwhelmed by emotion, he told the reporter how his life took a tragic turn.
Jebe’s family lived in Makurdi, while he worked in Abuja.
“They visited me in Abuja and spent the holiday with me and they had to return to resume school,” he narrated. “I drove my wife in the morning of September 15 to Benue Links Transport Company park in Abuja.”
After they boarded an 18-seat bus to Makurdi, he bade them farewell, not knowing that was the last glimpse he would have of his family.
He continued: “After a short while, my wife called my line probably to give me information because the bus left the park before I move, but it was raining heavily in Abuja and I was driving, so I did not pick her calls to hear her out. When I later called her line, the number was not going through.”
He became worried when he didn’t hear from her at about time they should have arrived in Makurdi.
“I phoned Benue Links company’s number and was told that the vehicle from Abuja to Makurdi had a fatal accident and only one woman survived.”
Jebe did what he could do under the circumstance. He phoned a friend in Lafia to go to the scene of the accident, while he also set out from Abuja.
Futile effort to save his daughter
He arrived at the accident scene to find his wife and two children dead. The third child was still alive but seriously injured and in pain.
“I took her in my car with the help of my friend and we drove to Makurdi. While on the road, I phoned someone at the Benue State University Teaching Hospital to arrange for the treatment of my little daughter.”
Unfortunately, he got to the hospital to discover the gates locked and was told doctors were on industrial strike.
“I rushed to the Federal Medical Center Makurdi, but the story was the same.”
Jebe paused to muster the will to continue. “As I turned back in search of another medical facility, my daughter died.”
At this point sorrow unmanned him. “I can’t believe that I am never going to see my wife and kids ever again, I literally can’t bear it,” he burst into tears.
Grieving like Job
Jebe described the tragedy as an act of God. “Who am I to question God? I accepted what has happened without blame on any human,” he countenanced.
Jebe doesn’t know how he was going to overcome the bereavement. “We shared dreams and plans of things we could do together,” he said of his late wife. “All of these have become meaningless now. I feel as though I have no purpose in life without her.”
Delirious with grief, he resorted to poignant monologue: “How can I forget my wife and my three kids? It is not possible; they were amazing to me. I will forever miss them with everything within me.
“All I can do is be thankful for the blessing of having you (his wife) in my life for the past years; you loved me so much, much more than I ever deserved, I will love you forever, in this life and the next.”
He went on to describe his wife as a “devout Christian, a woman that feared the Lord, a lover of God, a woman of prayer and faith, gentle, peaceful, submissive, full of love, caring, kindhearted, warm, generous and a blessing to the family.”