As the search for possible recovery of more bodies swept away by last Saturday ocean surge at Kuramo Beach in Victoria Island came to an end yesterday, Mrs. Saidat Oke, widow of Mr. Joseph Oke, security officer, who died alongside others narrated how she received the news of her husband’s death saying, “I am yet to believe he is dead.”
Saidat, who initially declined to speak after the state government released the corpse of her husband to the family, said the loss would for a long time affect her psyche and the only child he left behind.
Saidat, who spoke in Yoruba language, muttered “I was at home when my phone rang, I picked the call only to be informed about the death of my husband. Immediately I heard it, I cannot explain how I felt at that moment and to come to reality of what has happened.”
Vanguard gathered that she had earlier urged Joseph to resign from his job as a security officer at Kuramo Beach and to go for a better job elsewhere.
It was also learnt that Joseph who was employed by the company (name withheld) on March 6, 2008, earning N3, 000 weekly as salary, died while trying to rescue some residents.
Speaking on the death of Joseph and others, Area Commander of Crime Prevention Campaign of Nigeria, Mr. Gbenga Shobowe, said “I knew it would happen because that day, I did not know what held me back from joining other security officers in the rescue effort.”
According to Shobowe, “immediately Joseph called me at about 3:00 am, I was reluctant to join them immediately. But about an hour later, I called the phone number of Joseph and his colleagues, Olorunwa to know how the rescue operation went, their numbers were switched off.
Meanwhile, the Lagos State Government yesterday, commenced the release of corpses to families to ensure prompt burial rites.
Chairman of Iru-Victoria Island Local Council Development Area, LCDA, Mr. Abayomi Daramola, said the corpses would be released to the families after they must have conducted screening for proper identification.
Daramola added that the state government would assist the families with the burial of the deceased.
He noted that the number of casualties would have been high had the LCDA not demolished several structures at the beach last June, and ordered the occupants to vacate the premises.
He explained that “we ordered them to vacate because of the security threat it posed to the state. The place had become hideout for criminals. According to him, “during the demolition, we discovered three pistols and other ammunitions which had been handed over to the appropriate authorities.”
Daramola debunked the claim by the owners of the structures that the state collects ground rent from the occupiers.
He said: “There was never such levy being collected by the state government or the council from the occupiers. I challenge anyone to come forward with a copy of the receipt.”
He added that what the state government collected from them was for the maintenance of the area because they littered the shoreline which the state spends huge sums of money to clean, by constantly clearing the refuse that were being deposited there.
Vanguard gathered that the bodies were deposited at the Isolo Mortuary. Meanwhile, at press time, no further body was recovered yesterday as five more bodies were said to be missing.