The pains of death take time to heal, but for the family of Mr.& Mrs. Augustine Ikwuagwu whose five kids were wiped out in a late night inferno, the pain would forever remain fresh in their hearts.
The sad incident took place few weeks ago at Comfort Oboh Street, Kirikiri Town.
Asking a bereaved mother to describe the life and times of her late children is like torturing an already traumatized woman. With pain and anger all over her face, mother of the deceased, Mrs Margaret Ikwuagwu, said her lovely kids, Chukwuemeka (13), Ifeanyichukwu (10), Bright (8), Joy (6) and Victoria (4) were sleeping in the house when the fire broke out around 10pm.
She lamented that all efforts to rescue the children from the raging inferno were futile.
Mrs. Ikwuagwu recalled with nostalgia, “I asked my children to go and sleep in the room while I was preparing to close shop for the day.
“Then, shortly, someone ran to tell me that our house was on fire. I abandoned everything I was doing and ran down to the house. When I got there, the fire had already covered the whole place and I could not enter my room to rescue my children,” she said.
According to her, she raised alarm, but no one came around to help her. “When I got there, I met a mammoth crowd. My co-tenants were busy removing their children and property.
She said, “They started the rescue as soon as the fire broke out, but never bothered to inform me that our house was on fire. I tried to rescue our children, but I could not because the fire had covered our room. I heard the voices of my children shouting. But could not save the situation. I cried for help, but no one assisted me.”
“I forced myself inside the room when I heard my children crying for help, with the hope that I would bring out at least one or two, but I ended up being burnt by fire; so I ran out.”
She disclosed that as she was shouting, her husband arrived at the scene.
“When my husband arrived, we joined hands to rescue our children. He pushed the door, but the fire was too much; he tried to force himself through the window; yet he did not succeed. We called our children, but they did not answer us. When we tried and saw that there was no hope again, we fainted, having watched our five children, cash and other property ruined by fire. We were rushed to the hospital immediately and did not know what happened later,” she stated.
Mrs. Ikwuagwu stated that she and he husband were left unconscious when they realized that the children they had labored to bear had all gone. “When we recovered, we were asked to come to Kirikiri Police Station to make statement. Thereafter, we were asked to come and take our children for burial. So, we went to bury them at Trinity Cemetery, Olodi Apapa.”
Mrs. Ikwuagwu lamented that before the tragic incident, her family had planned to travel home on December 22 for this year’s Christmas celebrations. “I do not know why this thing happened to us.
“Why should our five children go like that?” She asked rhetorically. “We were preparing to travel home on December 22 for Christmas. Now here we are. Where do we start and how far do I go from here? I know that it was not an ordinary fire. But, however, God will take control of the whole thing,” she lamented.
Narrating how his five kids were wiped out, the still mourning father, Mr. Augustine Ikwuagwu, famously known as Osuofia, said his efforts to rescue his children were fruitless when he arrived the scene as the fire had already spread to the entire compound.
He said, “On December 12, I went to my wife’s shop and saw my children sleeping and I asked my wife to take them home, which she did. We did not lock the children inside the house, as people are saying, rather, our 12-year-old son, Chukwuemeka, took them home, and when the fire started, no one cared to call us and as a result, our children got burnt to death. We have three male and two female children and they died the same day.
“As it is, I have no house, no property and no child. People are saying that we locked the children inside the room and lighted a candle, but I am telling you that we did not lock them inside and we did not use candle at all; what we use was rechargeable lamp,” he disclosed.
He noted that the real cause was still unknown. “We are still surprised about how the fire started and up till this moment, we have not been able to know the cause of the fire. But God has the answer,” he stated.
“I wanted to kill myself because I do not know where I am going from here. I do not think, I can cope because my entire life struggles are gone. After five children, we have decided not to bear children again. But now, we are starting again,” he lamented.
Ikwuagwu revealed that since the sad incident, they have been living from hand to mouth, adding that he and his wife are still receiving treatment in the hospital. “It has not been easy for us since then.
“We have no child, shelter, clothes, money, and property. Also, we have not recovered from the shock. So, anyone who knows what it takes to lose five children and everything should please assist us to come back to life. My wife’s spirit has gone down; she has been thinking of how to get another child,” Ikwuagwu said.