Death, which is for all mortals, according to the Bible, is emblematically a thief, a hooded figure with a scythe; the grim reaper that reaps where it did not sow. When it creeps in quietude envelopes the environment, so goes an Igbo adage. Hers from whichever angle so presented was as tragic as death itself.
Chizoba Precious Okeke, 38, was from Amauzari in Isiala Mbano Local Government of Imo State, but got married in 2007 to Mr Anthony Okeke, an Mbaise man, also from Imo State. The couple with their five children (one boy and four girls) reside at 26 Ukachi Street, off Port Harcourt Road, Aba, Abia State.
Her children’s ages range from one to 11 years. Chizoba used to prepare local beverage drinks called Zobo and Soya milk, which she sold around town in a pushcart. Automatically, the lady became the bread winner of the family and her parents when her husband who was in the business of sewing car cover seats was thrown out of job when the building housing his workshop on Weeks Road was pulled down as the state government was reconstructing the road.
On Friday, April 6, Chizoba had prepared her beverage drinks like any other day and went out to hawk them; unlike any other day, she did not come back alive. According to her younger brother, Chinonso Maraizu Samuel, the elder sister had on that day prepared her drinks and as usual went out to sell them. She took the drinks in her pushcart to Port Harcourt Road and walked across to 160 of the same road to sell some of her drinks to people who were under a half-pulled down three-storey building when the unexpected happened.
Death at midday
In an effort by the Abia State government to expand the Port Harcourt Road, some buildings were being pulled down. One of the buildings being pulled down was a multi-storey, which the contractor handling the project pulled down the pillars of the house and left it like that, without danger warning and that became a trap that cut down Chizoba’s life at her prime.
Narrating how the incident happened, Chizoba’s younger brother, Chinonso said: “My sister had as usual prepared her local drinks and went to the half pulled down house to sell her products to some people under the building. But as the Caterpillar was pulling down the next house, the vibration caused the building under which my sister went to sell the drinks to start giving in. As this was happening, some people who stood afar beckoned on those under the building to run for dear life.”
But just like a tale of moonlight, while others ran for safety, Chizoba was the only one trapped to death.
Chinonso painfully gives a clearer picture of how his sister died: “When the building was giving in, other people under it ran in side ways direction, but my sister ran straight to cross the road towards where he kept her pushcart, with which she carried her goods around; and part of the building fell on her and she died instantly.”
Not only that the lady died, but her death was pathetic as the falling debris cut off one of her legs and shattered the other. “When I came to the scene, I did not see one of her legs and I insisted that the two legs must be complete before I carry her to the mortuary. People helped me to find the leg that was chopped off”, her brother disclosed.
When Sunday Sun visited the scene of the incident, John Igu, one of those who saw it all, recalled what happened. “All of us were under the building when suddenly some people who were on the other side of road noticed it was falling down gradually alerted us. We ran side ways, but the woman that died because of her goods she packed in the opposite direction ran towards that end and part of the structure collapsed on her and she died instantly.”
Igu said there was no danger sign placed on the building by the contracting firm, pointing out that if there was any warning sign, people couldn’t have gathered under the building the way they did before the incident.
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