For the family of Mr and Mrs Vincent Anojor, November 12, 2016, is now regarded as Black Saturday. On that fateful day, their 14-year-old twin sons, Peter and Paul, drowned in an uncompleted drainage channel filled with water and garbage.
As would be expected, the tragic death of the much loved twins left their neighbours in the Buruku area of Trikania in Kakuri, Kaduna South Local Government Area of Kaduna State, mournful and angry with the government, which they accused of culpability in the boys demise.
Contrary to a newspaper report (not the Sun) which insinuated that the boys fell into the channel because they were searching for packs of a popular noodle to qualify to win prizes in the ongoing promo of the brand, their elder brother, Innocent Anojor debunked the claim saying that his brothers could not have been looking for that as they were not that type of children, adding that they had all they needed as children.
“Nobody could give vivid account of what happened as it was only a little boy that saw them when it happened and he never told us that they were looking for packs of the noodle brand,” Innocent said.
As Sunday Sun gathered, one of the slippers of one of the twins fell into the ditch as the twins walked on the makeshift footbridge built over the channel. In his attempt to retrieve the slippers, he fell into it. Realising that his brother was in danger and there was no adult person within sight to offer assistance, the other twin dove into the water to help his brother. And in the process, both of them drowned.
Commenting on the incident, an elderly man in the area, Mr. Saleh said: “The nonchalant attitude of the state government was responsible for the loss. When a lady died there sometime ago, it was widely reported in the media. One had hoped that by now, something tangible would have been done to prevent reoccurrence but alas here we are crying and weeping again.
“Must they wait until when one of their own children or relatives fall victim before they would act? Virtually everybody in this community is working and paying taxes, yet this place is abandoned. The sad thing is that the All Progressives Congress (APC) campaigned for votes in this place. Fixing this problem was one of the things they promised us. We are afraid of who will become the next victim.”
The bereaved father of the twins, who is a staff of Peugeot Automobile Nigeria (PAN) Limited, and hails from Agenebode, Etsako East Local Government Area of Edo State, has spent a good part of his life in Kaduna but had only lived in the area for about five years with his wife and their five children. The dead twins were their lastborn. He is now left his 19-year-old eldest son and two daughters.
The incident happened a very short distance from their residence. If not for the little boy who witnessed it, nobody would have imagined that the boys drowned there. Local divers later recovered the corpses of the boys. The same spot was said to have claimed the life of a 28-year-old girl two years ago.
As Sunday Sun discovered, there is no undeveloped plot of land in the area thereby raising the question as to why the drainage project had been abandoned over the years by the government despite its location within Kaduna, the state capital. Flood water which has been running through the place over the years has eroded it so much that it has become very deep making it difficult and dangerous for residents to cross to the other side of same road.
When Sunday Sun visited the bereaved family, sympathizers were still pouring in to commiserate with the parents of the dead twins. Summoning inner strength, the father of the twins, spoke to Sunday Sun, recalling the shock of learning about the death of his sons.
His words: “On that day, I went to work because I was on duty at PAN. That fateful day, we all attended the morning mass together at St Nicholas Catholic Church, Trikania. When I came back around 3pm that Saturday, everywhere was filled with people and when I inquired, one person told me that my twins fell into the drainage channel but didn’t tell me whether they were rescued or dead.
“The misery here is that this is the road they have been taking to get to school and church for more than five years we have been living here. So I ran to the place because it is not far from here (the family residence) and attempted to jump into the place but people around prevented me. They brought a pumping machine but it didn’t work. Two local divers were quickly summoned and they brought the two of them out within a minute.
“The first one was still breathing while the second one was already dead. We rushed both of them to different hospitals and it was in the process of fixing oxygen to him that the second one was confirmed dead. It was a very sad moment for the family especially their mother as you can see, she has not been talking since.
“After that, their corpses were brought home. Our Reverend Father and other men of God prayed fervently to revive them but they couldn’t come back. The Reverend Father couldn’t believe that those children he saw in the morning were no more.
“People said that we should keep them in the mortuary but I declined and they were buried that Saturday because Catholics don’t attend burial on Sunday.
“As Christians, we felt that was how God wanted it because if not, when one fell the other one would have ran home to inform us at least their elder brother was inside. It was a little boy that saw them and told his mother who then raised the alarm.”
When asked what was he going to miss about them, he said: “A lot. They were twins and have been sources of joy and happiness not only to my family but the entire community, the church and the school they attended. Their death was a very painful one. They were discharged from the hospital on their delivery day because there was no complication at all. They never spent a day in the hospital.”
Commenting on the site where the children died, Anojor said: “You have seen the spot for yourself. If three persons stand on each other’s shoulders from the bottom, the head of the uppermost person would not be seen above the ground level.
It is an uncompleted drainage channel that has turned into a gully and the spot is filled with refuse and dirty water. So if somebody fell inside and there was no witness, nobody could ever think of searching there. People in the area constructed the wooden bridge there. Government has abandoned us here to our fate. But they must come now and fix it now before more people die there.”
Until their demise, the twins were JS2 students of Excel Universal College, Kakuri.
Their distraught elder brother, Innocent, told Sunday Sun: “I think it was their time to go. I believe as a Christian that God knows better and I pray He grants them eternal rest. They were the only brothers I had in this world and now they are gone. They were the last two of five children. I’m now left with two younger sisters.
“I was in the house sleeping that Saturday. They didn’t tell me where they were going but as usual, they would be in church by that time because they had never missed mass. The church is about five minutes trek from home. They sometimes passed through there more than five times a day. I will miss them forever.
It was rather unfortunate. It was sad. Their place in my heart will forever be there but I will continue praying for their eternal rest. Government needs to do something about the place because the primary responsibility of any serious government is to protect the lives of its citizens. We voted them into power to do just that.”
A senior official in the Kaduna State Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources who does not want his name in print because he was not authorized to speak, while commiserating with the bereaved family, cautioned that people should stop indiscriminate dumping of refuse.
He said: “We heard the unfortunate incident that happened in Kakuri. We sympathise with the family and we pray God grants the departed souls eternal rest. But then, our people should be their brother’s keeper by carefully packaging their waste in bags for better disposal especially now that the state government has effective waste management team.
If the spot had not been covered with polythene and plastic dirt, I want to believe passersby would have probably seen them early enough and that would have prevented the irreparable loss”, he added.
Efforts to reach the Police Public Relations Officer, Kaduna State Command, Aliyu Usman, for comments were unsuccessful.