Having followed the reports in the last few weeks, I honestly believe this is yet another case of ‘accidental discharge’ by a ‘trigger happy” policeman who has no business wielding a gun he had no control over.
Since the death of the newspaper vendor, the Speaker has visited the immediate family of the deceased to commiserate. While there, he promised the widow, Josephine Okereke, that he would take responsibility for her children’s education. In addition, he offered some support to her as well.
After this, I imagine the family, thinking they also ought to get ‘something’ for the sudden death of their beloved brother; Ifeanyi, held a meeting, without inviting the chief mourner, Josephine.
I have no idea why the widow was not part of their meeting; perhaps they still saw her as an ‘outsider,’ whose contributions to the family’s decision was not needed. Could also be that they think her loss is minimal compared to theirs? After all, they had known Ifeanyi longer and loved him far deeper before Josephine came on the scene…
Anyway, they owed Josephine no obligations as to what they wanted to do about her husband’s death. Plus, I might also add here that the ‘estrangement’ could be from the fact that Ifeanyi’s family had taken over the property he left behind. It is common knowledge that once a family man dies, his relatives often swoop in, taking everything he left to themselves. Often times, neglecting the widow and her children; this is not the rule but it is too common.
Now, after this ‘meeting,’ the extended family, represented by the deceased’s father, Okorie Okereke and the deceased’s younger brother; Destiny Okereke then decided to hire a lawyer to exact compensation for their brother’s death. They had, in a letter, through their lawyer, Mike Ozekhome, asked the Speaker, Gbajabiamila, to pay a compensation fee. “Our clients have instructed us to make from your good self, the following modest demands; …That you adequately compensate the Okereke family with a modest sum of N500m only.”
Of course, this isn’t the only part the letter contains. But this is the part that left me wrinkling my nose…It’s no wonder the widow distanced herself from her husband’s people. She is said to be unaware of this demand by the family and clearly wants nothing to do with it!
To be fair to the extended family, maybe they thought Gbajabiamila was simply making a politician’s promise; maybe the Speaker was only mouthing what he thinks the press wants to hear. Having no personal knowledge of the Speaker and not being his spokesperson, I want to consider this point.
However, Gbajabiamila has a record of helping indigent students in Surulere, especially. Also, this is from way back in the mid 2000s; he is known to have been paying Jamb fees and Waec fees annually for indigents in his constituency; long before he became Speaker.
Indeed, Gbajabiamila has been known to give money regularly to vendors and hawkers at the junction; ever before Ifeany Okereke was killed.
So, maybe that is why Josephine Okereke chose to go by his word; rather than wait for her in-laws and the promise of N500million that even if it gets to them; would probably leave her getting next to nothing.
Anyway, so why is the Okereke family keen on this compensation?
If they have any grouse at all, methinks their beef should be with the Police and Abdulahi Hassan, especially.
Though responsibility lies with the Speaker by virtue of his position to ensure the needful is done; directing their pain at Gbajabiamila, however, seems wrong.
Though the family agreed no amount of money could bring the deceased back, they appeared in their demand; to only be concerned for themselves and not Ifeanyi’s wife and kids. No wonder the widow distanced herself from them, saying she would rather depend on the speaker’s promise to assist her and her children than wait for the family’s intervention.
I wonder though. Will the Speaker’s promise to help sponsor the deceased’s children’s education be on hold; while the family drags issues with him in court? This will certainly take years and what happens to the children in the interim?
What happens to the widow?
Where will help come from?
What exactly does the family need the money they are demanding for? To console themselves of the millions of money Ifeanyi has been denied from making had he lived?
This is not saying that they are wrong in their demand. It simply says that in their asking, they failed to take into consideration the deceased’s most urgent constituency; his wife and kids.
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