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A voice told me to jump into well, kill myself –Enugu businessman who lost wife, four children to house fire

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The ugly incident occurred on Wednesday, February 24, 2021. I call it a dark Wednesday because I couldn’t believe what my eyes saw that day. That day I was at home with my family after returning from work. My wife, Precious, our four children – Rejoice, Michael, Samuel and Angel – and I were cracking jokes. I played with my children while my wife was cooking. I had never played that much with the children. I never knew it was going to be the last time I would play with them. We were playing game on my phone and they kept nudging me, “Daddy play game, play game”. I was showing them funny cartoons on the phone and after that I taught them an old song we sang back in my primary school days: ‘O my home, O my home,when shall I see my home?’ As we sang, we marched across the living room. We were just having fun that night.

At about 9.30pm, my wife informed me that the food for my little kid, who was about a year and seven months old, had finished. She said she forgot to tell me earlier. I considered sending my first daughter, who was 11 years, to go and get it, but when I looked at my watch and realised that  it was 9.30pm, I decided it was better I went to get it myself.

So, I went out to buy the food but while returning home, I heard the voices of people watching a football match involving Real Madrid at a viewing centre near my house. Though I love watching football, I had not planned to go watch the match that night. But as I was going home and the voices at the viewing centre attracted my attention, I decided to rush home to drop the baby’s food that I went to buy and then return to the viewing centre to watch the match. This was some minutes to 10pm and by then we alredy had dinner. As I dropped the baby’s food and wanted to go out, my children persuaded me not to go out but to let us continue our play. But I told them I was tired and that I would go and watch the match since they wouldn’t allow me to sleep anyway if I stayed in the house. I told them to go to bed; already their mother had gone to bed. The children insisted I must stay back to continue to play with them but I forced them to go to their room and sleep. The three older children have their own room while the little one sleeps in the same room with the mother and me.

After forcing them to go to bed, I went out and locked the door. I went out to watch the football match, not knowing that I would never see my family again

After the match ended, I was going home but I saw a crowd of people coming towards my direction and I was scared. A lot of thoughts came to my mind. I was wondering if there was a fight or whether hoodlums attacked the area. You know the security situation in Nigeria, and particularly Jos, Plateau State where bandits occasionally attack communities, is not predictable.

I decided I would slow down a bit to understand what was going on. I saw someone running in my direction and I waited. When the person got close, I asked him, “Bros, why are you running like that? What is the problem?” The person said a house was on fire. I said okay and decided that I would rush down there to see how I could lend a hand to put out the fire. As I was going I saw another man that I knew and I asked him about the burning house. But he told me, “Oh! Bros, it is your house oh!” I didn’t understand that he was actually referring to my apartment; I thought he was talking about another apartment in my compound. But on getting home, I couldn’t believe my eyes – my apartment had been completely razed down. I kept shouting, “No! No! No! Is this a dream?” There was no way to enter into the apartment. What got me more scared was that it was only my apartment that was on fire.

It is a two-bedroom flat bungalow. I tried to enter the house but there was no way. I saw that people had already made some attempt to break the door. After some effort, I was able to break the door further and I then went to the protector at the windows and tried to break it but it was very hard. All that was on my mind was how to get into the house and save my family. I didn’t hear anything that people were saying around me. As I attempted to dash into the house a hand pulled me back. I shook off the hand and proceeded in but another hand pulled me back. At that point, a number of people had rushed towards me and they carried me out of the building. As they carried me out, I was struggling to free myself. I was wondering why they were holding me back when my entire family was trapped in the burning house. But they kept telling me to calm down. I saw one of the persons that I watched the football match with at the viewing centre and he asked me if that was my house on fire. He broke down in tears with me. I didn’t know he took the risk but he went into the burning house and brought out my wife. He told me that she was still breathing. I checked and saw that she was actually breathing but she was very weak.

A pastor brought his car and rushed her to a nearby hospital. The other person rushed inside the house again and brought out my little baby – my Angel – who was sleeping beside my wife before I left to watch the match. The baby had died. The other three children, who slept in the same room, had already roasted in the fire. The same person equally brought them out.

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