- Leaves behind wife, new set of triplets
Yekini Jimoh in Lokoja
A director in the Kogi State civil service, Mr. Edward Soje, whose wife recently gave birth to a set of triplets after 17 years of marriage, has committed suicide in Lokoja, the state capital, following the non-payment of his 11 months salaries by the state government.
THISDAY gathered from family sources that the 53-year-old man was being owed 11 months’ salary arrears by the state government before his untimely death. It was further gathered that the body of Soje, a civil servant with the Teaching Service Commission, was discovered on Thursday hanging on a tree beside Mammy Market at the Maigumeri Barracks, in Lokoja, which houses both the Nigeria Army Record Command and civilians.
Sources disclosed to THISDAY that the civil servant decided to take his life barely 10 days after his wife of 17 years gave birth to a set of male triplets at a private hospital in Abuja. The couple had been childless before then.
Soje, a Grade Level 16 Officer hailed from Ogori town in Ogori-Magongo Local Government Area of Kogi State. He had before killing himself travelled to Abuja and left a suicide note for his wife who works in one of the federal ministries, THISDAY learnt.
His suicide note read, “Psalm 121:3 God will not suffer your foot to be moved: He that keepeth you will not slumber. Amen. You and the three boys, God Almighty keep you and prosperous, Amen. I love you.”
Meanwhile, confirming the incident to newsmen on Saturday, the state police command Public Relations Officer, ASP William Aya, said the dangling body of Soje was found on a tree behind the barracks about 5:55pm on October 16. Aya said the Divisional Police Officer in charge of Area D Division received information about the incident from the military intelligence office in the barracks.
“Police moved to the scene, removed the corpse to the morgue of the Federal Medical Centre in Lokoja. Investigation is on-going,” Aya said. According to the police, nothing was found on the man to help trace his address and family.
However, a search party organised by his relations and friends found his corpse at the morgue of the hospital on October 20.
Family sources said Soje had before the incident been going through a lot of financial pressure due to non-payment of his salaries for 11 months by the Kogi State government. He was among thousands of civil servants being owed between two and 21 months’ salary arrears by the state government. As a way out, he was said to have sold his only car and a three-bedroom bungalow he was building at Otokiti area of Lokoja. The building, which was at lintel level, was sold by Soje at a give-away price of N1.5 million in April to meet urgent family needs, it was gathered.
According to the sources, Soje’s financial woes became compounded when his wife gave birth to a set of triplets through Caesarean section at a private hospital in Abuja on October 7.
The deceased remained at the hospital to look after his wife and the babies until October 13, a day before the naming ceremony, when he decided to come back to Lokoja.
On getting to Lokoja, Soje went straight to his bank to collect the remaining N30, 000 in his salary account with one of the commercial banks and thereafter informed the bank in writing about his decision to close the account. He immediately left Lokoja for the hospital in Abuja where he joined his wife and handed over the N30,000 cash to her.
On October 14, Soje and wife were joined by two pastors and few relatives to perform a brief naming ceremony for the triplets at the hospital. He later left the hospital on the pretext that he wanted to pick few things from the wife’s apartment in Abuja with a promise to come back quickly.
But Soje did not come back for hours and did not pick any of the many calls made to his telephone line, a development which forced the wife to send somebody to the house to go and ascertain what was happening to him.
The person, on getting to the apartment knocked on the door severally but got no response and decided to call his telephone number.
On hearing the telephone ringing out from the apartment, the person was said to have knocked severally again but no response, this made him to seek the assistance of neighbours to force the door open.
When the door was opened, the people were taken aback when they saw Soje’s telephone handset placed on a suicide note on the centre table in the sitting room while he was nowhere to be found.
When the wife was informed, she quickly contacted some people to begin a search for him in Abuja while relations and friends in Lokoja were also informed of the development.
Efforts made to locate him did not yield fruitful result until relations decided to visit hospitals in Lokoja. The decision paid off eventually on Friday, October 20, when the corpse of Soje was found in the morgue of the Federal Medical Centre, Lokoja.
A member of the family said the management of the hospital explained to them that Soje’s corpse was brought in by the police who found it dangling on a tree. The family member, who craved anonymity, described late Soje as a “very quiet and lovable human being.” He said some members of the family have been sent to Abuja to break the news to the wife.