I am Virginia, Ifeanyi’s elder sister.
How did you receive the news of your brother’s death and other family members?
I live in Abakiliki, Ebonyi State, with my husband and children. Around 10pm on that day, my daughter that lived with my brother called to inform me that they were searching for my brother and members of his family. It was a Sunday so I asked her if they did not go to church. She told me that they all left for church together and on the way, my brother’s wife suggested that she should alight and attend a nearby church so she could cook on time for the children when they come back from church.
She said the children did not eat before they left for church that morning. Before my daughter called to inform me that they were looking for my brother and his family, my mother, who lives in the village and attends the church where my brother was the pastor, had also asked my daughter why Ifeanyi and his family didn’t come to church that day. The whole thing was confusing.
What did your mother do next?
My mother left for my brother’s house in Enugu to find out why they were not in church. When she got to my brother’s house, she was informed that my brother left for church that morning with his family. My mother told them that my brother was not seen in church. It was at point that everybody became confused. The neighbours and other relatives in Enugu started moving around town to make enquiries concerning the whereabouts of my brother and his family.
A daughter of one of his neighbours also went with them that day. Visits were made to various hospitals in Enugu but in the evening, they decided to check them in mortuaries. Eventually they were found in a mortuary. But initially, they did not tell us that they were found in a mortuary so on the morning of the next day, June 11, I left for Enugu. At that time, I was thinking that it could be a case of kidnapping, and I went to some pastors I know for prayers – they prayed for me and told me that my brother and his family would be found, adding that nothing would happen to them. On getting to Enugu on June 11, I met the neighbours crying and it was then that I found out that my brother had died with his wife and their five children, as well as Favour.
How have you been coping since then?
It has been terrible. My late brother was the one who was taking care of our aged mother. Although he lived in Enugu, he always visited our mother every Sunday in the village where she lives. I only visit home three or four times a year. He was our only brother — the only son of our parents. It is terrible that my brother’s lineage is closed. Nothing like this has ever happened in the history of our community and in our immediate family. Before now, there has not been any case of untimely death.
Did you or any family member have any premonition of what happened?
There was no premonition or vision. If there was any, I would have prayed against it. The pastor in whose church I worship usually sees visions. But in this case, he did not see anything. It was as if the devil blinded everybody.
What did the transport company say about the accident?
The accident was a head-on collision with a bus belonging to a mass transit company. The management of the transport company only gave us N200, 000 as compensation. They gave us N200, 000 as compensation for the loss of eight lives.
Were the police involved?
Police were involved in the matter. It was through the police that the transport company brought the money.
When something like this happens, it is natural for people to say many things. It is only God that knows the truth. My brother was a pastor. He was a true child of God and I can’t question God. I leave all to God.
How did the family handle the burial?
It was not easy but the entire community shared in the grief. Apart from being a pastor, my brother worked with the Transmission Company of Nigeria and he assisted our community a lot on issues related to electricity. The community members volunteered to participate in the burial. We bought seven caskets and all were in the mortuary at the same time so the bill was so high. We still have a lot of outstanding bills to settle. We borrowed money for the burial and we have not paid back. We are in debt.
How do you feel about the incident?
I feel very sad. At first, it was like a dream but now that it has been confirmed as a reality, I don’t think I can laugh or smile again. I never thought that a day like June 10 was possible in our family. I also plead for government’s assistance.