From GYANG BERE, Jos
Cruel fate on Christmas eve, consumed Dr. Ijeoma Onwubalili, a medical graduate of University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Enugu State, in a fatal auto crash 10 days to her traditional marriage ceremony at Ufuma village, in Orumba North Local Government Area of Anambra State.She perished at her prime with three members of her family between Aliade and Otukpo in Benue State at about 3pm on Sunday, December 24, 2017.
Dr. Ijeoma, a 26-year-old medical doctor, awaiting induction into the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), was in high spirit when they set out for the journey to her traditional marriage, scheduled for Tuesday January 2, 2018. The journey that should have ended in joy, ended in a tragedy that threw the entire family and Ufuma community into mourning and agony. Other victims who perished in the accident are her father, Simon Onwubalili, a 57-year-old patent medicine dealer, her mother, Ifeoma, a staff of National Examination Council (NECO) and her 19-year-old immediate younger sister, Gracious Onwubalili, an undergraduate.
Mr. Simon Onwubalili, was said to have sent ahead three members of his family, including his first son, Onyedike Onwubalili to the village in preparation for Christmas and the traditional marriage with clear intention of joining them on Christmas Eve.
Journey of no return
To ensure smooth and successful journey, Simon employed the service of a driver whom he thought was qualified and experienced to convey other members of the family home for the marriage rites.
The driver picked the family members from Jos in the morning of Sunday 24, December 2017, with their neighbours in Jos bidding them farewell but on reaching Aliade, Benue State, the driver oversped to overtake a trailer, and unfortunately, could not return to his lane. The car somersaulted several times before crashing into the bush.
It was gathered that the Toyota Highlander, with registration number plate, Abuja ABC 105 PH , hit a tree inside the bush and four members of the family died on the spot. The driver and one of the Onwubalili sons, Marvel, who survived the accident are still in coma in an undisclosed hospital.
And the dreams die
The dream of young Dr. Ijeoma, to set up a sound and solid family foundation in accordance with the tradition of her ancestors was cut short. That was not all, her longtime dream of attaining enviable height in the medical profession, was equally cut short.
Until his death, Mr. Simon Onwubalili was the chairman of Neighbourhood Landlords Association at Graceville, behind VIO, off Muritala Mohammed Way by Mountain of Fire and Miracles Church, Jos. He was said to have sold his house and handed over the key to the new landlord few days before the tragic incident.
When Saturday Sun visited the house, it was locked and key as there was nobody in the house. A neighbour said they had parked to one of their houses in Rukuba Road in Jos, the state capital where the house was also under lock and the family members gone to the village ahead of the traditional marriage rites.
His first son, Onyedike Onwubalili, confirmed the incident on phone but couldn’t make further comments as he was short of words. His voice was shaking and from the background, cries of sympathisers and relations with him could be heard.
“Thank you for your prayer and concern, I am speechless” he said in a faded voice, when he was called the second time.
A family member who spoke with Saturday Sun in Jos said, Mr. Simon Onwubalili was distributing invitation cards for his daughter’s marriage and induction into medical practice a week before the tragedy.
A younger brother of Mr. Simon, who gave his name as Elochukwu told Saturday Sun that he was the one who carried the four corpses from the scene of the accident at Aliade and deposited at General Hospital Ajeli in Anambra State.
He revealed that the last son, Marvel who survived is currently receiving treatment in one of the private hospitals in Markudi with the driver of the ill-fated car.
Elochukwu noted that the date for the burial has not been fixed as arrangement was on to give them a befitting burial.
“We are devastated with the death of my elder brother, his wife and two children. They had accident at Aliade on their way from Jos for the traditional marriage of Ijeoma which was earlier fixed for Tuesday January 2, 2018.
“The entire community received the sad news with shock, we are grieved at the moment. The village was waiting for the family to perfect plans for the traditional marriage only for their journey to be cut short by the tragic incident.
“They were also making plans for the induction of Ijeoma who graduated recently from University of Nigeria Nsukka, these are memorable activities the family had ahead of them but now they are all dead.”