By Ummi Ismeal
For a very long time the family of Mr. Tunde Gabriel Adedokun and Mrs. Grace Bose Adedokun will remember March 18, 2017.
A unique day indeed because a caller, though from a familiar number but different voice and identity, announced the death of their first son, Olaniyi Gabriel Adedokun.
Niyi, as he is fondly called by siblings and friends, the previous day (Friday), had gone out with his younger brother who visited him at Abuja where he works with First City Monument Bank (FCMB) to pick few condiments they needed to prepare dinner for the day. Midway to their shopping, the late Niyi received a call from one of his colleagues inviting him for another colleague’s birthday party taking place at Gurrara Water fall, in Gurrara Local Government Area of Niger State.
The caller, according to investigations, had hardly dropped when yet another called inviting him for the same birthday bash.
It was gathered that the deceased had turned down the invitation because the celebrant though was known to him in the bank where all the six worked did not extend invitation to him personally and so sees no reason to honour the invitation.
The calls for the party became so frequent that his younger brother became worried and demanded to know who was calling and why they were insisting that he be part of a picnic he had no prior knowledge of and did not plan to attend. While they were yet to be through with the shopping, Niyi informed his younger brother about the identity of the callers. Perhaps had he known that death was lurking around the corner, he would have remained with his younger brother who our source said was not comfortable with the strange callers and the idea of traveling to Gurrara Waterfall to join them just for the fun of being part of the birthday. While the two brothers wondered what was so special about the birthday that no other person among the five that were already at the venue could not handle. With the pessistence of the phone calls, Niyi, who was wearing only a three-quarter short pant, a shirt and slippers bowed to pressure and decided to join them from Abuja.
Niyi on his part after detailing his younger brother on what to prepare for dinner on that fateful day, promised to join him later in the day headed for the motor park for a journey not to return alive.
The lifeless body of Olaniyi Gabriel Adedokun was Monday evening brought out from Gurrara water, exactly three days after he got missing. Then the big question everyone who knew him and the circumstances surrounding his trip to the Gurrara Waterfall are asking has been; what killed Niyi? Did he drown while celebrating birthday with colleagues? Where were the friends that invited him for the party when he was in danger and to the point when he drowned? Why did he not drown with his phone, which his friends later used to call his parents? Of course all of the work in the same bank in Abuja- that makes the case complex.
Though the police in Niger State said that they were investigating the circumstances surrounding the death of Niyi, who had gone to Gurrara Waterfall with co-workers for a weekend’s birthday bash, the death and the intricacies surrounding his joining the people that called him for the mission that he never returned alive has remained a mystery.
Niyi never had premonition of his death.
“He left Minna for Abuja Tuesday morning full of life but late Saturday evening someone called me that my son was missing that they cannot find him again.
“I ask the person what he was talking about, who he was and where he was calling from using my son’s phone and he told me that he was my son’s colleague in the office,” the deceased’s father, Mr. Tunde Adedokun told our correspondent in an emotion laden voice when she visited their residence at Chanchaga area, Minna, Niger State capital.
Adedokun, who hails from Ogbomoso in Oyo State, said that he quickly rallied his family together and headed to Gurrara and the search continued through Saturday night, Sunday and Monday, until late Monday afternoon before the body was discovered and brought out from the river. Describing Niyi as very promising, humble and intelligent, Adedokun said that his son was everything any parent could be proud of in life and that perhaps was one of the reasons he was the love of every member of the family, his friends and colleagues. “Niyi had the ambition of furthering his education and also interested in doing business,” the father said, adding that the deceased had planned to save money.
Though the bank had sent delegation to the family, Adedokun said that the death of Niyi has created a very big vacuum in the family, adding that he had wished that his son was alive to bury him when he had spent his old age and died instead of him burying his son. His father further said, “When I visited the scene what his colleagues were telling me wasn’t palatable. In fact, it sounds rather illogical to any right thinking person. How can you invite someone for a birthday party to come and join you in Gurrara Waterfall, all the way from Abuja, and you are telling me that he is missing? How did it happen?
“The people that called him to join them at the party have never visited him. In fact I don’t know them because none of them ever visited him even when he had problems; so why have they suddenly become friendly with him to the extent of inviting him for a party even when I heard he had initially declined to join them,” the deceased’s father further said.
“You need to visit that place to see what is happening and hear the kind of horrific tales of how people drown every now and then yet nothing is being done.
“While we were there, we heard about two people who died the previous week and even while the search for our son’s corpse was going on, another young man who just came in from United States to visit his family in Lagos decided to visit Gurrara Waterfall but he could not go back to Lagos alive, and that makes people like us and many others to ask, what is really going on there? Niger State government is promoting culture and tourism but tourists should be adequately protected, guided, secured and if possible there should be signboards or signs demarcating safe areas from dangerous points so that visitors after visiting go back home to tell stories of their pleasant moments which will also encourage other tourists and intending ones. But my experience which I believe could have been avoided if the place was adequately secured and the stories we hear about visitors dying every now and then is not good enough for the government and people of Niger State and Nigeria in general,” he lamented.
According to hi, “It seems the locals are also feeding fine from the incessant deaths therein because of mouthwatering sums of money families of deceased pay before they agree to embark on the search and recovery of people that drown at Gurrara Waterfall, including those who may die unnoticed since there are no guide or staff of the ministry that monitors what is going on as far as security situation is concerned for picnickers.”
For Mrs. Bose Adedokun, life will never be the same with the loss of her first child. The deceased’s mother who only managed to greet visitors with signaling of her hand and nodding of her head apparently as a result of days of weeping and sleepless nights thinking about what could have happened to her son surrounded by relatives who had come from far and near to sympathize with family.
For his two younger brothers; Taiye and Keinde, life can never be the same for the family of six without Niyi. I wish he never died. Taiye and his twin brother both Computer and Physics students of Federal College of Education (FCE), Kontagora in Niger State said that their plans of becoming software developer, expressed fears what the demise of their beloved elder brother could cause them in having their life ambition fulfilled.
The Adedokun twins said that their family was closely knitted together and for Niyi to be suddenly missing means the family cannot be the same again. Taiye described their late brother as a cheerful giver who would always sacrifice anything he has to make others happy. I wish he never died.
For the only daughter of the four children of Mr. and Mrs. Adedokun, Damilola, Niyi is somewhere and will soon be back.
Damilola, a year one Mass Communication student of Federal Polytechnic, Bida, said, “Brother Niyi is not dead, I don’t believe he is dead. God will bring him back to us”.
On the devilment, the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Niger State command, DSP Bala Elkanah, said that investigations into the circumstances surrounding the death of Niyi were going on.
According to the Police Public Relations Officer, “We have report about the death of a 27-year-old banker, who came in from Abuja with five of his friends but drowned at Gurrara waterfall. We are investigating that”.
Niger State Commissioner of Information, Tourism and Culture, Mr. Jonathan Vatsa, could not be reached for comments and he could not pick calls when our correspondent called to find out why all the tourist sites lacked basic amenities to provide security to tourists as it is being done in other parts of the world.
Many had wondered why Gurrara waterfall, a distance of less than an hour drive from Minna, the state capital, lacks security, tour guide, signboards signifying areas that are dangerous and unfit for visitors/tourists and as well the presence of at least ministerial staff to encourage visitors in providing answers to questions tourists may be interested to know about the entire state tourism sector.