•Last cries of children killed in Ibadan midnight fire tragedy •My life is over without my children, says father who lost three children to midnight inferno
Sympathisers at the scene of the fire incident. Inset: Charred remains of the children in their burnt room.
For all three children of Mr Tunde Emmanuel and his wife, Christianah, the sun set in a very horrific manner just three days into the new year on Friday.
To say it was a tale of misfortune for the Emmanuel family who had looked forward to having a glorious year with their children would be stating the obvious as residents of the Ehin Grammar area of Molete, Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, will continue to remember January 3, 2020 as a day of horror.
A midnight fire which was said to have been triggered by a surge in one of the rooms in the house claimed the lives of the three children, Glory, 13; Samuel, eight and Darasimi, three, leaving in its wake not just death and destruction of properties but also anguish, despair and unanswered questions on how and why it happened.
None of the occupants of the house had an inkling of what was to come even as it was gathered that the children were full of life until the incident that would snuff life out of them descended on their home.
Death came around 1.00 a.m. and there was nobody to rescue the innocent children as they got burnt inside their two-room apartment which was locked from outside.
The shout of “Help! Help!! Help!!! we are dying!” from the room where the children were occupying unsettled many residents, particularly their neighbours who, at that time, were also battling to save their own lives.
“Call our daddy, please call our mummy, we can’t come out of the room,” one of the neighbours who spoke with Saturday Tribune quoted one of the children to have screamed while the raging fire was encircling them.
From the bus stop leading to the house, one could feel the anger which pervaded the atmosphere as people ascribed the calamitous loss of the children to the alleged negligence and possible waywardness of their parents.
The crowd proved tough to penetrate as sympathisers and onlookers who gathered at the scene of the incident were still in shock at how the promising future of three kids perished in the fire.
Saturday Tribune gathered that the eldest of the children, Glory, was an SS1 student while the other two, Darasimi and Samuel, were still in primary school.
The father of the late children, Mr Emmanuel, an electrician who is popularly known as Baba Ara, amidst uncontrollable tears, declared that his life was over without his children. He denied locking his children in the room while he left to sleep with a mistress.
“I never locked up my children. Anybody going about with such a claim should fear God,” he said.
When asked where he was when the fire broke out at his residence, he stated that he left home around 11.30 p.m. after he had ensured that they had eaten and were ready to sleep.
“There is no iota of truth in the claim that I locked them up. Why would I lock my children up? I ensured that they had eaten before I left and the eldest was watching TV before I left home. I got a call when it was 1.30 a.m. that my house had been engulfed with fire and that people were fuming over my absence,” he said.
Rumours among the sympathisers were that the relationship between Baba Ara and his wife was strained, perhaps heading for the rocks and it was becoming habitual of him to be away from home, especially at night.
When asked why he was not there to put out the fire, Baba Ara said by the time he was approaching his house, he was accosted by a mob which threatened to throw him inside the fire which caused him to run away.
The mother, also known as Iya Ara, was said to have been away on a ‘night shift’ and could not be reached in time when the incident happened.
Saturday Tribune could not reach her as of the time of this report as she was said to have been taken to a family house by members of her family who were quick to restrain her from injuring herself after she heard of the circumstances that led to her children’s demise.
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