Their Painful Exit

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Garba

Nigerians mourn the death of three journalists in an automobile accident at Osu area along Ilesa-Ibadan-Expressway, Osun State

|  By Chinwe Okafor  |  Aug. 19, 2013 @ 01:00 GMT

CONDOLENCES have continued to pour in from all walks of life for the three members of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, NUJ, who lost their lives at the Osu area of Ilesa-Ibadan-expressway Osun State in a road accident on their way back from Abuja, on August 2. Ten others were injured. Following the instruction of Mohammed Garba, president of the NUJ, on August 3, condolence registers were opened in all the states and national secretariats of the union in honour of the departed members.

Friends, well wishers, editors, colleagues and other well meaning Nigerians have been signing the registers across the country. Babatunde Fashola, Lagos State governor, expressed deep sadness over the death of the three NUJ members. “It is regrettable that the journalists died in the course of promoting the interest of the profession. My thoughts and prayers are with members of the union at this difficult time and I pray for the peaceful repose of the departed journalists and the quick recovery of those injured,” Fashola said.

Rauf Aregbesola, Osun State governor, Abdulfatah Ahmed, Kwara State governor, and Kayode Fayemi, Ekiti State governor, described the deaths as a huge loss to the country. Gani Olaoluwa, Chairman, Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Osun State, said the death of the professionals was a big blow and a painful exit to the NUJ. Olufemi Lanlehin, Vice-Chairman, Senate committee on national planning, economic affairs and poverty alleviation, also expressed shock over the loss.

Adams Oshiomhole, Edo State governor, also commiserated with the NUJ. He said the death was most painful, given the fact that they embarked on a journey to enhance the welfare of their members. “I had met the late Adolphus Okonkwo at the Constitution Review conference of the NUJ, held in Benin in 2011 and from my interactions with him, he came across as a dedicated, dutiful and thoroughbred professional who knew his onions. I have no doubt that the other victims, Olatunde Oluwanike and Kafayat Odunsi, were, also eminent journalists in whom their colleagues reposed great confidence, thus electing them as their representatives,” he said.

Aregbesola
Aregbesola

Ayodele Fayose, former Ekiti State governor, also commiserated with the NUJ. He described the incident as unfortunate and a great loss to the nation. Lai Mohammed, interim national publicity secretary, All Progressives Congress, APC, also condoled with the NUJ as well as the families of the deceased. Adedayo Adeyeye, Afenifere chieftain and the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, governorship aspirant in Ekiti State, also commiserated with the president and members of the NUJ.

Nasir Fagge, president, Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, also commiserated with the NUJ over the unfortunate death of three members of the union. “I received the news of the death of our people in the NUJ with a rude shock. I had thought the accident will only end with injuries and not death, but only Allah knows best, “I sympathise with the national fraternity of journalists in Nigeria and in particular, Oyo and Lagos state councils. May Allah comfort the families of the departed,” he said. Olusegun Ajiboye, chairman ASUU, University of Ibadan, expressed shock over the death. “Our friends have gone and we are sad, but we should take care of their children. We should not cry and forget their family. I will urge the union to develop a scheme to assist the children of the deceased,” Ajiboye said.

Those who lost their lives in the unfortunate accident were Adolphous Okonkwo, national financial secretary of the union, Tunde Oluwanike, NUJ chairman, Radio Nigeria, Ibadan network centre and Kafayat Odunsi, an official of Nigerian Television Authority, NTA, who has since been buried according to Islamic rites.

A seven-day mourning was held in honour of the deceased, during which Garba urged all NUJ members to suspend all their activities and pray for the repose of the departed souls. “The issue of insurance for NUJ members comes to the fore again with the death of these our colleagues. They were coming from Abuja, where they had gone for a meeting on members’ welfare before they lost their lives,” he said. Garba, also thanked Titi Laoye-Tomori, Osun State deputy governor, for her support at the Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, Osogbo, and also commended the swift response of the Osun Emergence Ambulance Service to the accident.

The bus in which the 13 journalists were travelling with had a burst tyre which made the vehicle to summersault several times. The three of them died instantly, while the rest were taken to hospitals in Osogbo, Ibadan, Oyo and Lagos States for treatment. Most of them were still receiving treatment as at press time.

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