By OLASINDE TOYIN,
and JOHNSON KEHINDE
For residents and neighbours of No 6, Sikiru Rotimi Street, Ejigbo, Lagos, the death of a businessman simply identified as Joseph was a rude shock that left them dazed for days. Although, the way and manner by which he met his death was clear, the reason for his death remains a big mystery to his family, friends and neighbours. The deceased committed suicide by hanging himself on November 15, 2011. Before he hanged himself, the father of three, whose first son’s name is Jeremiah, wrote three letters addressed to his landlord, pastor and wife respectively.
According to neighbours who heard his wife narrating the sequence of events that led to the tragedy, the deceased wrote a letter, enveloped and addressed it to his pastor, after which he gave his wife to deliver to the pastor of the church of the zonal headquarters of Mountain of Fire and Miracle Ministry church located on the adjacent street, where the family worships. The unsuspecting wife left to run the errand. By the time she returned she met his body hanging from the roof. She also met two letters on the table. The first was addressed to the landlord, the second to his family.
The three letters, however, contained the same contents. The deceased in his writings mentioned names of individuals to whom he directed specific instructions.
While seeking forgiveness from his three children, he asked his first child, Jeremiah, to take care of his two sisters. He concluded with a prayer that God will be with them. To his relatives, he wrote “I am sorry for disappointing you.”
To his pastor, identified as Gbenga Agboola, he asked for forgiveness and he enjoined the man of God to keep up the good works. After apologising to his landlord, for “disturbing” his child’s coming wedding which was due to hold five days later, the late Joseph instructed him to kindly refund to his wife the balance of the rent he paid from January to September 2012. He specified the balance to be N175, 000. To his friends and admirers, he craved their forgiveness too. He wrote that he was sorry for his action. Even the police got a mentioning in his letter. He directed that the Lagos State Police should not make any arrest in connection with his death. His corpse, he ordered, should be handed over to the Lagos State Government for burial, in spite of the fact that he was an Igbo native. The reason, he gave was that he was born and bred in Lagos. He also noted in the letter that the cause of his death was not due to financial problem but rather it was due to unseen forces which had been affecting him from childhood.
He concluded the letter with a grave warning that whosoever refuses to abide by the instructions in the letter would, together with his or her children, suffer seven times the afflictions he experienced.
His corpse was retrieved by the police hours after the discovery. By the next day, a conspiracy of silence had developed around the street as no one was willing to talk about the tragedy. Neither the deceased’s family nor his landlord’s was receptive to probing. Even neighbours who initially were cooperative later became hostile. Every avenue explored by EE reporters ended in a wall of silence. The pastor of the church where the family worships also declined to comment on the tragedy, aside from quipping that “anybody that is not a creator of life that takes life has sinned against God and whatever form of sin against God leads to hell”.
Neighbours are still wondering on possible reasons that drove the man to commit suicide. According to a neighbour, the deceased had a thriving business and “he lived comfortable enough”. The source, who preferred anonymity, alleged that the deceased had a shop at Ilasamaja, along Apapa-Oshodi expressway.