Posted by By JAMES OJO, Abuja on
Last week, a most horrendous and barbaric phenomenum was visited on the psyche of Nigerians with the gruesome murder of an infant by an irate mob who accused him of child kidnapping.
Unekwuojo, among the Igala tribe of Kogi State, means God’s will. But for the family of Abah Usman, it is very hard to believe that it is the will of God that Joy, the family pearl, would die a week to her wedding day.
Precisely this week Saturday, October 29, 2005, Joy, a staff of the Para-military Pension Board at Gwagwalada, would have solemnized her marriage to Pastor Yemi Davies at the Living Faith Church, Durumi, Abuja.
The marriage was to be one-in-town as an elaborate reception had been planned for friends at the Millennium Park. Sadly, the ceremony would never hold.
Joy Unekwuojo Usman (29), the last in the family of six girls and three boys, was among the passengers of the ill-fated Bellview plane which crashed on Saturday shortly after take-off from Lagos en route Abuja.
Elder brother to Joy, Abah Sunday, a lecturer at the Kaduna Polytechnic fought back tears while narrating the grief of the family whose plans to give her sister away in marriage have become a mourning ceremony.
"We were preparing an elaborate ceremony to send Joy to her husband’s house. Joy is the last daughter of the family. We have six girls. Now our joy has been shattered. To say that we are devastated would be an understatement. We have big problems on our hands. How do we console our mother? How do we console our father? He arrived from the village on Saturday for the wedding of his most prized daughter."
According to the wedding invitation card, Joy’s traditional wedding ceremony was to take place at the Zone 3, Lugbe village residence of the Usmans on Friday, while the church wedding ceremony had been slated for Saturday at the Living Faith Church.
Joy had gone to Lagos for her last wedding shopping, but never returned alive.
Daily Sun gathered that Joy’s fiancé, Pastor Yemi was waiting at the local wing of the Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport to pick her up.
"Joy and her fiancé were in contact on phone shortly before taking off. Pastor Yemi was still at the airport waiting. He became agitated when there was no announcement of the arrival of the last plane one hour after the plane was said to have left Lagos. He started making phone calls to find out what happened. It was in the process that he was informed that the plane was missing, and he started contacting the family, " the brother narrated.
This was how he was woken up at about 10.30 p.m with the sad news that his sister was in the plane that had crashed.
Sad as the death of her sister is, Abah says the joy of the family was that the late Joy knew Jesus Christ.
"We have one consolation. Joy, my sister is a believer. She gave her life to Christ before tasting death. She was loved by everybody. No doubt, we shall miss her. She was everything to us. The only sadness is that she died a week to her wedding, nothing more," Abah said, as he fought back tears.
As a Christian family, he said that they had accepted Joy’s death but that they would have preferred a situation whereby her remains could be found so that the family could give her a befitting burial.
Igala-speaking people around Lugbe have been trooping to the home of the Usmans to commiserate with the family.
A large expanse of land cleared as part of preparations for the elaborate wedding ceremony opposite the house has now been converted to mourning ground where people now gather to sympathize with the family.
Joy’s mother, fondly called Mama Igala, was in a deep sleep apparently from the injections administered on her. Her husband was looking askance in a corner of the compound, surrounded by sympathizers.
She should have been a bride next month, now Queen’s father says, ‘I’m ashamed of this nation’
By VICTOR OGBONNAYA, OLA AGBAJE and AGATHA EMEADI
By next month, Queen Ozekhome and her heartthrob, Emeka Morrison would have walked down the aisle. But they are now dead. Queen, a niece to constitutional lawyer, Chief Mike Ozekhome was a cabin crew with Bellview while Emeka was an IT engineer. Emeka checked into the ill-fated flight as Queen (Mr.)
At the Ijesha home of the Ozekhomes Monday, you could feel sorrow and pains. There were tears in the faces of family members and friends over the death of Queen who her father described as ‘my angel’.
Chief Dr. Ozekhome, the grief-stricken father went down memory lane to paint a portrait of his precious daughter who, alongside her fiancé has gone with the wind.
Queen, ‘the angel’
Queen was a child sent to me by God. We had her in 1976 and since then, I made sure she was well taken care of as a child. She is not my first child, but my first daughter. So I see her as a very good child to me and I made sure she went to the best schools. She attended Fountain Nursery and Primary School, Federal Government Girls College, Owerri and Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma where she studied Business Administration. She graduated in 2001 and won Miss Central Bank and Youth Corp Member of the Year during her service year. She has been a wonderful daughter and that is why her death at this point in time pains me so much. A girl that no matter how you talk to her or abuse her will not utter a word. She is an obedient and respectful girl. She does not beat her junior ones, rather she would bring them together and advice them. I used to look at her and ask myself, how can I , Ozekhome, as hot tempered as I am, have a daughter that is so quiet?
When she got this job seven months ago, the stress of bringing the referees were difficult. At a stage, I asked her, Queen are you sure you like this job? She said, yes, daddy, I like it.
She leaves the house very early and comes back late, she had to relocate to my son’s house at Ikeja near the airport.
Premonition of her death
The Saturday she died, after praying, I could not sleep in the night. I was terribly disturbed. I woke up, wandering around the house. I was restless. Sleep was too far away from me. It was as if the spirit was telling me that something was wrong somewhere. I had sleepless night that Saturday night.
How we got the news
I was preparing to go to church on Sunday morning and I just tuned the radio. That was how I heard about the plane crash involving Bellview aircraft. I said to myself that my daughter is a staff of the airline. I went to tell her mother that she should listen to radio announcement. Before I went to church the announcement became more frequent. I began to feel concerned more and more until we were able to confirm that she was in the plane. I called my son and he said, Queen is fine and she has gone to work since morning, and might not come back that same day. I called her set, it was not available. I left for church while her mother refused to go. By the time I came back from church, news of Stella Obasanjo’s death and plane crash filled the place. We all sat in front of the television when MBI came up with a report that they survived and we started jubilating.
Then NTA also came with a wrong information. It was AIT that came up with a near accurate story. We were watching the TV until the manifest was released. I saw Queen Mr. I said that is not my daughter and at last we saw Queen Ozekhome. Wailing began in the house. She would have been my first daughter to marry.
I also learnt that that Saturday, she had gone from Lagos to Kano, and back to Lagos. Lagos to Abuja and back to Lagos. The trip that claimed her life was supposed to be her third trip that day.
She was preparing for her wedding. A lot of arrangements had been made with lots of items bought. She had phoned my younger brother, Chief Mike Ozekhome to tell them that she would come and introduce her fiancé to him. We would have gone to the village next week. As we were crying, Emeka’s sister ran into the house and was asking after her brother. We later discovered that Queen Mr. is my daughter’s fiancé.
Can you imagine how so many could die just like that because of lack of adequate and effective emergency response? Tell me, why in this age, as the father or mother of Africa, we have no equipment to trace the incident. It happened during Babangida in 1992, nothing was done at Ejigbo. Now in 2005 nothing has been done to change the situation. So I am disappointed in the government of this country. When things happen, that is when they will remember to run around. The government should do something to protect its people.