Despite the fact that some weeks have passed since the fire disaster that wiped out five children of Mr. & Mrs. Augustine Ikwuagwu on Comfort Oboh Street, Kirikiri Town, Lagos, its bitter memory still lingers. Indeed, the tragedy has been a nightmare to the couple. When Saturday Sun met with the couple recently, pain and agony have overwhelmed them, as they recounted their loss.
Speaking amid tears, Mrs Margaret Ikwuagwu, said her fine kids, Chukwuemeka (13), Ifeanyichukwu (10), Bright (8), Joy (6) and Victoria (4) were sleeping in the house when the incident started at 10pm. She said that all efforts to rescue the children failed. “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. Mrs Ikwuagwu explained that she cried for help, but no one came to her aid. “When I got there, I met a mammoth. My co-tenants were busy removing their children and property.
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.” The woman revealed 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 it was after some hours that she and her husband recovered from the shock. “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.” She revealed that before the fire disaster, her family had planned to travel home on December 22 for Christmas. “I do not know why this thing happened to us.
Why should our five children go like that? 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 what happened, Mr. Augustine Ikwuagwu, popularly known as Osuofia, said that when he arrived he tried his best to rescue the children, regretting that the fire had already taken over 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 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 also stated that the cause of the fire is yet to be known. “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. Mr. Ikwuagwu said the fact that they watched their five children suffer and died in the fire was the worst thing that has happened to him and his wife.
“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. He stated that since the incident, life has not been easy for his family, revealing 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 lamented.