Tragedy hit the campaign team of the All Progressives Congress, APC in Oriade Local Council Development Area of Lagos State last weekend following the electrocution of one of the party faithfuls, Mr Ishola Raji. Raji was fixing a campaign banner on an electric pole at Kirikiri town.
Raji, an Okada unionist woke up on that fateful day with the intention to do more for himself, family and his preferred candidate in the political contest, little did he know that death was lurking in the corner. While the monthly environmental sanitation exercise was going on at about 8am, the deceased and other APC supporters siezed the opportunity to place the campaign banner of one of the aspirants for the office of Council Chairman across the road at Mangbesa junction. After succeeding in tying one end of the banner, they decided to tie the other end of the rope, using an aluminum ladder on the concrete pole.
Investigations revealed that the first two people who climbed the ladder to tie the rope jumped down due to fear. It was Raji who summoned the courage without the premonition that he was embarking on a vjourney of no return. According to an eyewitness, when the victim, popularly known as Alfa climbed the ladder, his body touched an electric cable which resulted in a serious spark that threw him off the pole, smash gainst a nearby roof, before he eventually landed on the ground. He was said to have sustained injuries on his forehead, while he foamed in the mouth.
While he struggled with death, some of the on-lookers, including his co-party faithful fled the scene for fear of being affected by the shock. Later, they summoned courage and reappeared to revive him. A member of Owode –Ijere Youth Forum in Kirikiri town, Mr Monday Ebofose who witnessed the incident described it as a tragedy that could have been avoided.
Narrating the story, he said “No one envisaged what really happened to Alfa. While the sanitation exercise was going on, I was inside the Baba Ijebu office and saw them trying to tie the banner on that pole. Shortly after, I heard a loud spark and rushed out. When I came out, I met him on the ground with bruises all over his body. Later, his fellow APC supporters who were with him tried to revive him. They even tore his clothe in the process, but all to no avail. It was then, one man brought his car and they took him away to the hospital.”
Ebofose further claimed that Raji “was the one collecting money on behalf of the Okada Union at Kirikiri town. At the same time, he was also an APC supporter and was working for a chairmanship aspirant. The banner was in his hand before he died. After the incident, they abandoned the banner and the ladder at the spot for several hours.”
Another eyewitness, Mr Adelomo Esele said that in the process of reviving the victim, the APC T-Shirt he wore was torn. He was thereafter, taken to two hospitals within the area, but was rejected, before he was finally taken to Gbagada General Hospital, where he died some hours later.
The Atoyose of Kirikiri town and Apapa, Chief Kayode Ewarawon described the incident as unfortunate and regretted that the deceased who lived adjacent to his house on No 2 Ilaje Street Kirikiri was a victim.
He gave account of how he saw some young men at the Karimu 2 transformer Junction before the incident and wanted to know why they should tie the banner on an electric pole, but they tried to convince him, saying there was no problem. “When I met them trying to tie the banner, they stopped, and removed it from the road, thinking that I wanted to pass. Then, I queried why they should place the banner on the transformer, but they said there was no problem, so, I left. Unfortunately, within 15 minutes, I heard a sound. And, when I rushed to the place, I saw him on the ground with injuries all over his body. Many people also gathered at the scene. Shortly, they brought two motorbikes, and a man identified as a Pastor brought his car and they took him to the hospital. I could identify that many of the young people there then were members of APC who wanted to place the political banner of a chairmanship aspirant.”
A community leader in the area, Chief Anthony Elui explained that the news of Alfa’s death was shocking. “I received the news immediately it happened and before I could get there, they had already taken him away to an undisclosed hospital. In fact, the incident was a big blow to the community. It should also serve as a lesson to others.”
Elui expressed concern over the consequence of the incident, pointing out that since then, power has not been restored in the area, thereby putting the residents in total darkness. He therefore, called on EKO Distribution Company to come to their rescue. “The problem has made us to continue to be in darkness because immediately it occurred, power went off and it has not been restored since then. So, the authorities should do something about that.”
Also, Chairperson of Kirikiri Landlords Association, Mrs Toju Onyeanwuna, in her reaction said what happened was painful and terrible. “What happened to the man was terrible and pathetic. We have been trying our best to educate people on the danger of electricity and climbing the poles, especially those who do not know anything about electricity. Yet, many of them refused to listen. Today, what we have been telling them about has come to reality. Though the transformer in question has been down for some time, but any literate person will know that there is always power in the high tension cables. I do not know what the APC supporters were doing with high tension pole. Must they ask their members to put banner on the high tension pole? In fact, what happened is an eye opener.”
She also expressed concern that officials of EKO Distribution company have refused to respond to their call. “No official of Eko Distribution Company came throughout the period of the incident. I called their PRO so that they could come and remove the ladder from the pole to avoid more deaths but her line was not through. I also called the maintenance manger and he refused to pick the calls. I also called those working with the Maintenance Manager, but none of them picked their calls. As a result, I became confused. Later when the Maintenance Manager picked my call through the DPO of Kirikiri, he told us that no official would attend to us. He snapped that if more people decided to die in the process, they were free to do so.”