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Meal of death

Posted by By GABRIEL DIKE, Osogbo on 2008/07/25 | Views: 2574 |

Meal of death

Sunday, June 15 will remain one of the saddest days in the lives of people of Ede when death came calling at a social function despatching two guests to the great beyond with 68 hospitalised after a fatal meal of Amala and Gbegiri.

Fidau prayer turns sour as 2 guests die, 68 hospitalised in Ede after Amala/gbegiri meal

Sunday, June 15 will remain one of the saddest days in the lives of people of Ede when death came calling at a social function despatching two guests to the great beyond with 68 hospitalised after a fatal meal of Amala and Gbegiri.

It was a day when anxiety and grief gripped the town at the 8th day funeral prayers for a deceased woman which attracted people from far and near, some of them dressed in the 'aso ebi'
With the Fidau prayers over, delicious foods such as Amala, Gbegiri and Ewedu, Rice and other menu were served to the guests including the clerics. Soon, one of the guests slumped around Total area of the town vomitting what he ate at the ceremony.

Some good samaritans were said to have rushed him to a nearby hospital where food poison was diagnosed. The calamity soon spread like a wild fire as many others who ate food, especially Amala and gbegiri,at the ill-fated ceremony started complaining of stomach ache, vomiting and fainting. They were rushed to hospitals for treatment while Daily Sun learnt that others took to self medication by ingesting plenty of palm oil as an antidote.

Although the casualty figure was initially put at 10, the Special Adviser on health to Governor Olagunsoye Oyinlola, Deacon Noah Oderinu, disclosed that only two persons were confirmed dead and 68 hospitalised when the dust finally settled.

Controversy before the tragedy
It was learnt that when the late Madam Moriamo died on Sunday, June 8, 2008 her relations and well wishers were happy and thanked God for the life well-spent. Daily Sun learnt from neighbours that the beautiful woman was said to have married three husbands from three different compounds in Ede during her lifetime. The compounds are Odomu, Kusi and Odumburo while it was also gathered that she had children in all these compounds.

According to a source close to the family, argument ensued on where her final resting place would be. "Each of the family she was married into wanted her to be buried in their compound. Some even suggested that she should be buried at the Muslim cemetery located on Abere road. After a heated argument, it was resolved that she should be buried at Odomu compound which was her last husband's house. The families resolved that the final burial ceremony would hold on the eight day after the Fidau prayers at Odomu compound.

"Apparently some of the decisions taken did not go down well with some family members. But they did not voice it out. So, when some guests began to complain of stomach ache, vomiting and fainting after eating at the funeral ceremony, the alleged rancour among the children became an issue," the source volunteered, suggesting that it might be a case of sabotage by those who were aggrieved.

Suspicion of food poison
Some indigenies who spoke with Daily Sun including the monarch of the town, Timi of Ede, Oba Muniru Adesola Lawal (Laminisa 1) described the incident as shocking and unfortunate. The monarch said he got the information of the tragedy on Sunday evening and promptly sent some people to investigate the matter.

His words:"Our investigations revealed that food poison was in the yam flour the children of the deceased bought for the ceremony. They bought a bag of yam flour which they shared among themselves. We are yet to know where they bought the yam flour as many members of the families are in the police custody. We are determined to get to the root of the matter to prevent the spread of the food poison.

"Many people were rushed to hospitals such as State Hospital, Cottage, Romby, Royal, Prime Hospital and others in Ede . Those who were yet to feel any pain, but who ate at the ceremony have also started submitting themselves for medical treatment. However, only two children died in the incident on Monday. It was sad to read in a newspaper that 10 people died. Journalists should be painstaking in confirming their information. People have been calling me from within and outside Osun State to know what really happened. Only two persons died. Most people who were hospitalised have returned to their houses. There is no cause for alarm", he said.

Oba Lawal appealed to the federal and state governments to urgently look into the rising incidents of food poisoning in the country saying :"Similar case happened in Plateau, Enugu, Bauchi states and others where some people lost their lives and some hospitalised after taking beans meal. The poison could be linked to the preservative used by the producers and sellers to preserve the product from being damaged. Many of them now take out the food before the chemical used to preserve them wear out due to food crisis in the world. Government should look critically into this issue and save people from food poison".

Victims recount ordeal
One of the victims and a neighbour of the deceased family at Olele compound, Mr Moshood Ariyo Angba-adun-arawa recounted how his 11 year- old son, Mujeeb and his 90 year-old mother, Iya Alakara narrowly escaped death but were caught in the web few minutes after eating the Amala and gbegiri soup. Ariyo disclosed that he rushed them to the hospital and also prayed fervently before the duo returned to the land of living. Other victims told Daily Sun that they saw hell while the incident lasted. Mother of four year- old boy, Kazeem Azeez, who died after the meal was inconsolable. She blamed herself for allowing his boy to eat the meal.

Family absolved
But the head of Odomu's compound, Pa Yusuf Oyeweso has expressed shock at the incident and the different shades of rumour being circulated about the incident. He declared that there was no rancour among the families before or after the burial ceremony to warrant anyone poisoning the food.
"Though, Mariamo had children in three places, all of them agreed that she should be buried in our compound which was the home of her last husband. All the children came here and there was no quarrel at all on the burial site. Even her children in Kusi and Odonburo compounds prepared their food in their various houses and brought their guests here where the Fidua was held. May God avert such calamity in any part of Ede land. People should stop peddling rumour. It is an act of God."

Another member of Odomu family, Hon. Raheem Ayoola Fatai, a former councilor in Ede North Local Government said: "The food that caused the problem was not from the one prepared in our compound. The Fidau was held here and after the Fidau, we served people with food which we prepared. The Muslim clerics (Alfas) who officiated at the Fidau ate the food and nothing happened to them, others also ate from our food and there was no complaint.

A day after the incident, the Odomu compound was deserted as people had ran away for fear of being arrested. Two canopies, chairs and plates still littered the scene. It was gathered that police from Ede A division arrested over 30 people over the incident, but a top police officer in the division said "only three people were being held and they are assisting us in our investigations." He said the case had been transferred to the State Criminal Investigation Department (SCID), Osogbo for extensive investigation.
However, the State Police Command Police Public Relations Officer, Mr. Joshua Olayemi said those arrested had been helping the police to unravel the tragedy. He said the samples of the food items taken at the ceremony would be sent to Lagos for forensic analysis.

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