Two weeks ago, a middle-aged woman, Olabisi Oriyomi, burnt herself to death in Abeokuta, Ogun State, over some debts she was unable to repay. Daily Trust Saturday reports on circumstances surrounding the sad incident.
Penultimate Saturday afternoon, residents of Oke-Keesi, Itoko area of Abeokuta, Ogun State, were alerted of a fire incident in the neighbourhood and many of them rushed to help put out the burning fire. They were, however, shocked to discover that the fire of fury was self-inflicted and not from an electric spark.
A tenant and mother of three, Olabisi Oriyomi, aka Mama Dada, had taken her own life in the most gruesome manner. She was a nurse and birth attendant, it was gathered.
She was reportedly depressed owing to a backlog of debt she was unable to repay, and decided to end it all.
Witnesses said the deceased was burnt beyond recognition as the entire building was also razed down. Her neighbours said the woman had taken a Lapo Microfinance bank loan popularly known as “Gbomu le lantern”, but got depressed over her inability to repay the loan. She also reportedly borrowed money from some informal lenders.
On the fateful day, the woman was said to have sent one of her children to buy her some petrol.
When the petrol was delivered to her, she sent the little boy out, locked herself up, doused the room and herself with the fuel and set the house ablaze.
A neighbour, Rasheed Aina, said that the woman killed herself after she was unable to pay back a loan she took from one of the microfinance banks popularly known as ‘LAPO’.
“Her neighbour told me that the loan was to the tune of N70,000,” Aina said.
The Secretary of the Community Development Association, CDA, simply identified as Babawale, explained that, “She is owing ‘Gbomu le lantern’ the sum of N70,000, and because she was unable to meet up with the payment, she sent her last child to buy fuel and also used style to discharge the small boy. She then locked herself up inside the room and wet everywhere with petrol including herself and set the whole place on fire.”
The deceased, said to be a single mother, had parted ways with her husband, Mr Julius, 20 years ago at Oke-Aregba, Abeokuta. Oriyomi had six children but three – Michael, Pamilerin and Aduragbemi Julius survived.
‘She took sniper many times’
Her 13-year-old son, Aduragbemi Julius, explained that the deceased had taken a poisonous insecticide called sniper several times, all in an attempt to take her life.
“Yes, she has been taking sniper before her death. She took the sniper three to four times. She had taken it three times before we got here. And since we got here about two years ago, she had taken it once. She took it when we were living in Ake,” the boy, who is in JSS 2, said.
It was Aduragbemi, the only child living with her, that the woman sent to buy the petrol which she used in setting herself ablaze.
“That morning, my mother sent me to get her fuel and I asked her what she wanted to use it for, she told me she wanted to give it to someone who usually helps her to charge her phone for free. And immediately I got back from the filling station, she told me to help her get a call card and before going to get her the card, I asked her if I should open the door for her so she can go out and give the fuel to who she wanted to give it to, and charge her phone, she replied angrily and shouted at me, asking me to go and get the card, so, I left to buy the card.
“It was where I was buying the card that people came to call me that the house was on fire. I went home immediately, but later rushed to call my mother’s friend (Mummy Junior) asking her to come and rescue my mother from the fire,” he narrated.
The boy disclosed that “All my clothes including my school uniforms, my books and sandals were burnt.”
Our correspondent learnt that some of her creditors had threatened to visit her on that fateful day.
The women leader of the community, Ajoke Idowu, said the fire incident would have consumed a lot of buildings in the community but for the youths.
“This incident is shocking; her children are still young and they are not financially buoyant. When the incident happened, it was the community youths that rallied round to assist with her burial. Her husband said he is from Iseyin, so it will cost him a lot to transport her corpse home for burial.
“Her death was not a good one at all. We had to run about to look for water to quench the fire so it won’t affect another house in the neighbourhood,” she said.
Her friend, Agnes Adelani, who also stood as her guarantor in one of her loan debts, said “In fact, we spoke for her so much that the company had my confidence and they didn’t pressure us. We were together on our way home and departed at her junction. After about an hour or so, I started receiving calls and her son showed up at my place to drag me to the house when it was burning.”
A resident of Oke-Keesi, Fatimah Bisiriyu, expressed anger that the deceased burnt down the house she lived in.
She said “I don’t know anything about the loan and I am not concerned with that. What I am angry about is the house she burnt down. If she wanted to commit suicide by setting herself ablaze, she should have done that elsewhere or simply killed herself by taking poison.”
The 54-year-old landlady, Funmilayo Taiwo, lamented the destruction done to the building. She said she does not have the financial capacity to renovate the collapsed building.
“I want the government to assist in any way they can. I’m all alone with four children. I cannot afford the renovation of the house,” she pleaded.
How I learnt about the incident – Ex husband
Oriyomi’s former husband, Julius Odunfa, admitted that the deceased and himself ceased to be a couple 20 years ago. He said they have three children together.
He described the incident as unfortunate and unexpected.
Julius said the deceased gave birth to six kids, but, three of them died, while three remained, which are; Michael Julius, Pamilerin Julius and Aduragbemi Julius.
He said, “All is in God’s hand. She was my wife, she had six children for me and we lost three. I am the father of Dada.
“I never thought she could do such. Her child, Dada, has been lonely since then, he was the only one that was always with her, he helped her with her trade and other things.”
Explaining how he got the news of his ex-wife’s death, he expressed disappointment, saying the deceased was not supposed to take her life.
“We aren’t living together, she left me 20 years ago, but she comes to check on her children here.
“So, I went to the garage three days ago, I’m a driver, but I can’t drive again because my leg is hurting.
“On that day, I was told that my wife is dead, they told me to come immediately, I asked what happened to her, I knew she borrowed from some loan companies. So, when I got there, I saw everything that happened.
“She ought not to do that, she should have called some elders or friends and explained to them, solutions would have been provided,” he said.