How does one describe the raw death that was visited on Sule Ibrahim, a colleague and mentee? It wracks my nerves to hear of his death, but I am even more troubled by the mystery surrounding it. Who killed Sule? Will his killers be found? We truly live in a wicked world.
Sule had literally become a member of my family. He had been to my village in Delta State several times. There is nothing that happens in my household that he is not a major participant. For over seven years, he had made it a routine norm to be my first visitor every New Year Day, for his special delicacy of starch and Banga soup, plus red wine. My children look forward to seeing him every New Year, as he is sure to also dole out New Year gifts. But all that got terminated last Tuesday, when Mallam Garba Shehu, the Special Assistant to Mr President on media and Publicity, called to commiserate with me on the passage of “our friend”. It was a rude shock.
I had got a call, penultimate Wednesday from Mr Henry, a staff of the Ibru organization, my fellow Deltan, who was introduced to me by Sule, that Sule was in coma and was being rushed to the hospital for treatment. The details of his information were sketchy.
Pronto, I had dashed out, heading to Surulere in search of the hospital, making intermittent calls, in-between. Sule’s neighbor and friend, one Sheriff, had Sule’s phones and was directing my movement.
I had got to Randle General Hospital, only to be told that Sule had been referred to LUTH (Lagos University Teaching Hospital). I soon found my way to the Accident and Emergency Ward at LUTH. And truly, there laid Sule, completely unconscious, placed on oxygen gas, with bruises and deep cuts and patches of blood stain, but a thread of his breath was there, offering some hope.
He looked languid and traveled. The doctors and nurses were as confused as we were. “What happened”, was the running question.
A certain vulcaniser who said Sule often came around him to greet and play with him, said he noticed having not seen Sule for three days which was unusual. That prompted him to complain to Sheriff, but the latter dismissed his worries. But they got curious when the many calls put to Sule’s phone were unanswered. They found their way to Sule’s new apartment and found him in the pool of his urine, his sitting room completely ransacked. He was half dead. The burglary to his door and the door itself were unlocked. Pronto, they rushed him to two hospitals before ending up at LUTH.
Henry and I had tried to raise some funds and kept same with Sheriff who was closely minding Sule.
Later that day, CT Scan had shown that there were three bleeding points in his brain. We prayed that he regains consciousness to tell the story of what happened to him. Our prayer was eventually not answered. Sule left.
I had travelled the next day, but kept in touch with Sheriff and Henry. Sule was said to have woken only on Saturday, asked some three questions: whether it was night or day, where they were and in what town, and went back to sleep. He never got back to us.
I did not know how to break the news of his passage to my wife. I hoarded the news for 24 hours. But she noticed I was beaming at less than half current.” You are low”, she observed, asking, “what is the matter?” Sule died was my simple reply that threw the household into deep mourning.
I had never seen a loyal, supportive, de-tribalised, humble, simple journalist, liberal Muslim like Sule. We kept talking about his need to get married, and he kept promising; one of the reasons he recently moved into a three-bed room apartment, hoping that “by December, I will do it Oga Eddy, so that madam (my wife) will stop fighting me”, he told me.
Sule, my friend, brother and colleague, sleep on.