+Wife unaware of deaths
Godwin Odia, the ex-policeman, who lost four of his nine children in a swoop during a mudslide is getting his groove back.
Mr. Odia who asked God to take his life in place of the four children when the incident happened on Saturday, November 7, 2015, was in a relaxed mood when ENCOMIUM Weekly met him on Thursday, November 12, 2015, at his 42, Ottun Araromi Street, Orishe, Isheri, Magodo, Lagos residence.
We did not meet him at home when we got there around 1 p.m on Thursday, November 12, 2015. We, however, met a lot of people who were praying and praise singing in front of the house.
We later gathered they were his colleagues from Aero Contractors Airline, and members of his family. They were also waiting to commiserate with him.
He later arrived in a Rapid Response Squad (RRS) pick-up van with some police officers. We gathered that he was brought from the Lagos State Commissioner of Police office, where the Inspector General of Police, through the Commissioner of Police commiserated with him.
Mr. Odia joined the crowd and exchanged pleasantries with some of his colleagues from Aero Contractors. His colleagues took turns to pray for him and members of his family.
He was presented with a cheque and some cash in a medium size brown envelope.
Mr. Odia, in his response apologized to his colleagues for keeping them waiting. He said he was called by the Commissioner of Police in Lagos State, who commiserated with him on the death of his children.
He thanked his colleagues for their concern and gift. He said he has accepted his fate. That he is thanking God hat he only lost four out of his nine children. That he still have five left.
He went on to say that he is thanking God for his life because he himself escaped being buried alive by the mud by a whisker.
According to him, he has just stepped out of the bathroom which was the next room after that of the children for the sitting room, when he heard a loud bang.
By the time he looked back to see what the loud noise was all about, his four children Sylva Odia (23), Sayo Odia (18), Clinton Odia (13) and Endurance (10) and their room have been buried under a huge heap of mud.
The time was 4.50 a.m on Saturday, November 7, 2015. That was when Odia’s family ordeal started.
He later took his colleagues on tour of the house to see things for themselves. After seeing off his colleagues, ENCOMIUM Weekly sough audience with him for an exclusive interview which he turned down immediately.
He told us that his doctor has warned him to stop granting interview to journalists. He said his BP is 210 and that he has not been able to sleep since that incident. He showed us the tablets given to him by his doctor to enable him sleep. But he said despite the sleeping tablets, he had not been able to sleep.
When his childhood friend, His Royal Highness, Hua Osaigboho of Okaigben Esan, who came all the way from his domain in Edo interceded on our behalf that he should grant us an interview, he told him to grant us the interview himself and he walked away with a stick of cigarette between two fingers.
When he came out again, he asked for matches to light his cigarette. Later his friend told him to eat something. He said he couldn’t eat. His friend arranged for apple to be given to him. After the apple, the friend again arranged for beer for two of them. He (friend) told him to take everything in his stride. He told him the story of a traditional ruler in their town who lost seven children and three wives in a motor accident and still lived to be 90 before he died.
He also reminded him (Odia) of former President Shehu Shagari, who lost four of his children in a motor accident and is still living till now.
Mr. Odia loosened up and started chatting with his friend in pidgin English and their dialect.
It was in the course of the discussion between them that we got to know what took place between him and the police authority that morning.
He said the police authority, going by the report in the newspaper believed that he was still in service. He said he left police voluntarily 17 years ago and that journalists who wrote that he was a policeman only saw the picture where he was dressed as a policeman in his sitting room. He now directed his speech to us that we should tell the whole world that he is no longer in the police, that he has been working with Aero Contractors for sometime now.
We then asked, as what?
The friend replied, ‘What else will a former policeman be doing with an airline if not security. Abi he wan be pilot?’ he asked jokingly.
While the discussion was going on, a woman from the neighbourhood came to inform him that a nurse from the hospital wanted to speak with him on phone and she gave him her handset.
From the conversation in our presence, the nurse told him (Odia) that the BP of his wife (who we gathered had been in the hospital since Saturday, November 7, 2015, after passing out when she saw the lifeless body of one of the children that was retrieved from under the mud) has now come down. That he can now come to inform her about the demise of the children.
Mr. Odia told the nurse that she should call the doctor to inform his wife about the children’s death.
The nurse said no, that it was him that could do that himself. Odia said he would not be able to do that on that day (Thursday, November 12, 2015). That he should be given till the next day.
After the telephone conversation, we asked Odia whether his wife was not aware of the four children’s death. He said she passed out after seeing one of them retrieved from underneath the mud.
He said when she later recovered at the hospital, he told her that the children were only injured and they were receiving treatment at General Hospital, Ikeja. He said he would have to brave up to tell her the truth the following day (Friday, November 13, 2015).
Odia’s friend told the woman who brought the news from the hospital to give them another round of beer which she did.
We took advantage of the congenial atmosphere to ask Odia, if we could take photographs of his house and the surrounding which he obliged us.
He and his friend took us round the whole place. He even showed us the heap of mud that was removed before his children could be brought out.
Despite the conviviality between us, Odia still refused to grant us one-on-one interview till we left his place around 3.30 p.m on Thursday, November 12, 2015.
-TOLANI ABATTI, pix by DAPO ADESEKO