Borno Gov’s Steward Commits Suicide

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Kashim Shettima

Michael Olugbode in Maiduguri

Suicide, which is fast becoming a common currency in Nigeria, yesterday visited the Borno State Government House as the official steward of the state Governor, Kashim Shettima, hung himself.

It was a pitiable situation as the lifeless body of the steward, John Achagwa, dangled on a Neem tree at the back of the Presidential Lodge at the Government House in Maiduguri.

The crowd which gathered to watch Achagwa lifeless was unprecedented as many had come to get a parting gift from Shettima who would vacate office today after eight years in office.

The cause of the suicide remains a mystery as people could not put a finger to want might have made Achagwa to take his life.

Some of his colleagues who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told journalists that the deceased had maintained unusual quietness since he resumed work last Monday.

One of them said: “He didn’t utter a word since morning. He just kept to himself. We were together till about 2p.m. until he suddenly disappeared.”

Men of the state Fire Service and security personnel were immediately mobilised to the scene of the incident to bring down the victim from the tree. It was the first time such incident would occur in the State House

Speaking later to journalists on the incident, the state Commissioner of Police, Mohammed Aliyu, said investigation has commenced on what could be responsible for the death.

He said an autopsy could be done on him as part of investigation on the cause of death.

Aliyu said his family and friends would be asked questions to get to the root of the incident.

He however revealed that preliminary investigation showed that the man was financially comfortable.

Achagwa was said to have retired from the state civil service about eight years ago before he was retained by the state governor.

In his reaction, the governor stated that he made the working conditions of the deceased very comfortable for him.

Shettima, in a statement by his spokesman, Mallam Isa Gusau, said John Achagwa was supported by the governor to build a complete seven-bedroom apartment and was also given a car to go to work.

Gusau said: “Shettima was shocked and has been wondering what kind of depression could push John, who was generally known to live comfortably, resort to taking his own life.”

He said: “Governor Kashim Shettima is deeply shocked by the unfortunate incident, especially given the fact that John who is in mid 60s was publicly known to be one of the governor’s favourites as he served important guests at the presidential lodge for more than 30 years.

“When John retired from civil service, Governor Shettima had requested that he be retained as casual staff because of his good services and the confidence in him. The Governor even supported John with personal funds with which he used in completing his beautiful house at a good location like Polo in Maiduguri. John also had a car to himself and he lived very comfortably. He was known to be friendly,” the statement explained.

The statement added that “the governor has directed the Commissioner of Police to ensure thorough investigation, including carrying out a post mortem on his corpse and digging questions everywhere to establish what pushed him to take his own
life.”