By Job Osazuwa
October 12, 2019, would forever remain a black Saturday for Otache Sunday Emmanuel. In one fell swoop, he lost his pregnant wife and three children. Though he survived the incident, he has remained incapacitated till date.
One year and six months after the tragedy struck, the 34-year-old man, who hails from Opaha village in Apa Local Government Area (LGA) of Benue State, is yet to come to terms with how all his family members were in one day buried in their sleep. He was later to learn that he escaped death by the whiskers when their building collapsed at about 3am in Magodo, Lagos.
Good Samaritans rushed him to the Lagos State University Hospital (LASUTH), Ikeja, where he spent seven months in coma. By the time he regained consciousness, he discovered that his wife, Faith, who was five months pregnant, and all his children, Jumai, 13, Dominion, six, and Daniel, two, died in the wreckage.
Supported by crutches, he cut a pitiable sight as he hobbled into the corporate office of The Sun Publishing Limited, Ikeja. By all definitions, his story is a pathetic and ugly one, which evokes even more empathy.
He told Daily Sun that pain and anguish have been his unwanted companions since the catastrophe struck him. He was not doing bad in life, until his world came crashing like a house of cards. In fact, he groaned, saying that he had been left for dead.
At the moment, he is at a crossroads and needs help to pick up the pieces and move on. He is pleading with fellow Nigerians for whatever help they can render him to survive his ordeal.
As learnt, a part of the building on a hill behind where he lived rolled down and crashed on their bungalow while the family slept that fateful night. It was described as a mudslide, which occurred after a downpour that day.
“I lived at 48, Otun Araromi Street, Orisha, Isheri Magodo, Lagos State. I had lived there since July 27, 2010, before the tragedy that befell me on that date.
“Like every other normal day, I had come back home after a hard day’s work. I was a bike man (commercial motorcycle rider) with OPay company, and my wife, as was her practice, prepared hot water for me with which I had a bath. Thereafter, I retired to bed. I never knew that would be the last time I would see my wife and children.
“To my surprise, I woke up later in a LASUTH ward, where I was told that I had been undergoing treatment for more than six months. I asked after my family, my pregnant wife, and my three children, but the people only told me to relax that they would explain later. I started agitating and demanding to see them. Eventually, they told me that a building on Alhaji Hakeem Odumosu Street behind my house collapsed on my apartment and killed my entire family.
“Everything is still like a dream to me. I learnt the incident happened between 3am and 4am. We were two tenants occupying the back the house. Fortunately for my neighbour, he and his co-occupants were not at home that night. But I was not that lucky.
“I still can’t believe that every member of my family…the pain has refused to leave me,” he sobbed.
Shedding tears, he told the reporter that it would have been better if he had died alongside his family than to be left behind to suffer the emotional trauma.
“Oftentimes, I ask myself why God spared me to continue to suffer. I am yet to find a convincing answer. It appears meaningless to me,” he said.
While pushing for financial compensation from the owner of the building that crashed on him, he said: “In the course of my seeking compensation or any kind of help, I have written several letters. I have written to my senator, Abba Moro, who represents my constituency in Benue State; I have written to the Senate President; Secretary to the Federal Government; Federal Ministry of Works; DG Human Rights Commission; Minister of Humanitarian Affairs; even the office of the Vice President, yet, nothing has come out of it.
“I have also been to the Legal Aid Council and Office of the Public Defender. Even to take these letters to Abuja, I had to go and plead with the manager of Ekeson Transport in Jibowu for free passage, which he mercifully granted.
“I don’t have a home to sleep at the moment. I don’t have money to feed. I beg my friends and relatives to survive. I have never been a lazy person and my friends can testify to this.”
He is pleading with kind-hearted Nigerians to support him with finance so that he would bounce back to life. And if he may ever walk properly again, Otache said that his doctor at LASUTH had said that they had to remove the metals inserted in his left leg.
A medical report dated October 9, 2020, signed by Dr. Tolu Orungbeja of LASUTH, reads in parts: “He sustained a closed injury to his left thigh on account of which he was unable to bear weight on the same limb. He also lost his wife and three children in the same building collapse.
“Following clinical and radiological evaluation, an assessment of the following was mad: A closed oblique midshaft left femoral fracture and acute stress disorder. He had open reduction and internal fixation with locked intramedullary nail for his left femoral fracture on October 23, 2019.
“He was subsequently discharged home on October 28, 2019, to be followed up in the orthopaedic, psychiatry and physiotherapy clinic. He was, however, not regular with his clinic appointments.”
Emmanuel lamented that keeping appointments with his doctors has been a hard nut to crack due to shortage of money to do so.
“The two main things that are important to me now are the surgery on my leg and capital to start phone accessories business. I learned the trade but I couldn’t raise the required money to start, that was why I ended up riding commercial motorcycle,” he said.
For any assistance, Emmanuel could be reached through his telephone number, 09078251190. His bank account number is 3049481636, Otache Sunday Emmanuel, First Bank.