By Godwin Tsa, Abuja
For residents of Nyanya, a buzzing satellite town of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, February 16, 2017, would not be forgotten in a hurry. In the early hours of that day, tragedy struck at one of the hotels in the town as a lodger, believed to be in his early 60s, decided to end his life by setting himself ablaze in his hotel room.
The fire, which consumed him in his room later spread out, razing the entire hotel to the ground.
The victim was said to have moved all his belongings in the hotel to another room before setting himself on fire.
The deceased, Dr. Isaac Ojukwu, Abuja Metro learnt, was a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) who had anchored the Diaspora wing of the party in Denmark and Germany among other countries of the world.
When Abuja Metro visited the burnt Boundary Plaza Hotel, sympathisers who massed at the scene could not fathom what could have triggered such a tragic act.
Our reporter was told that the deceased, from Ohuhu in Umuahia area of Abia State, had been lodging in the hotel for a period of five years.
A guest at the hotel, Ohize Yakubu, who claimed to have lodged at the hotel since 2013, said they made efforts to rescue the deceased from the raging inferno, but he wriggled out of their grasp and dashed into the consuming fire, where he was burnt beyond recognition.
Recalling his last moments with the deceased, Yakubu told Abuja Metro that they went out together to watch a Bayern Munich and Arsenal football match that night.
“We all returned to the hotel, but, minutes later, I started hearing strange sounds from his room, which was directly opposite my room,” the witmess said.
He claimed that he was frightened by the sounds and thought it was a robbery and, therefore, did not open the door immediately.
“I thought it was armed robbers until I started hearing some bangs on the door and voices shouting, ‘fire! fire!’ I opened the door and came out,” he said.
Yakubu added that, though his wife escaped with their son, his documents and other belongings were all burnt in the fire.
In his own account, the owner of the hotel, Prof. Sylvanus Itodo, said he was in company with the deceased before he left to watch the Bayen Munich and Arsenal match.
Itodo, who was still in shock, said he left the hotel at 11pm to sleep only to be woken by a call about an hour later, that his hotel was on fire.
“I knew the deceased very well. He had been staying in the hotel since 2013. I think he told me that he married a German woman and had kids, I have not met his family.
“On that fateful day, we were together before he left to watch the match. I also left the hotel at 11pm to sleep. But just about an hour’s interval later, I received a call from one of my staff that the hotel was on fire.
“I rushed out immediately, but before I could get to the hotel, the entire place was burning. It was the vigorous efforts of the Federal Fire Service that prevented the fire from spreading to the surrounding houses,” he said.
Confirming the incident, the authorities at the Nyanya Police Division said Ojukwu’s body had been deposited at the Asokoro General Hospital even as the family members have been contacted.