Additiinal reports by Kola Adeyemi on www.nan.ng
On the same day the Kogi Governor, Mr. Yahaya Bello’s promise of publishing the list of public workers who had been paid salaries up to date was redeemed, relatives and friends discovered the body of one of the state government directors who allegedly committed suicide. His body was found in a morgue, after police deposited it there.
At least an average of N21 million may have been spent on the 70-page advert which appeared in the Leadership newspaper.
Bello had told State House correspondents in Abuja last week: “We are up to date in terms of salaries and those that come to work we shall pay them and those that don’t come to work, the no work no pay rule shall surely apply…. Very soon we are going to publish all the salaries that we have paid to workers since inception in newspapers for people to see it. All the noise about Kogi is not paying salaries will be in public domain.”
But while he was making arrangements for the huge advert, it appeared from details pieced together from a News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) report that one of his directors, said to be frustrated over non-payment of his 11 months salary, was making arrangements to kill himself after his wife gave birth to triplets in Abuja.
The director in the Kogi State Civil Service, Mr Edward Soje allegedly committed suicide by hanging himself on a tree in Lokoja, the state capital.
News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) gathered on Saturday in Lokoja that the dangling body of Soje was found on a tree behind the mammy market at the Maigumeri barracks, the Nigeria Army Command Record.
The 54-year-old civil servant decided to take his life barely 10 days after his wife of 17 years gave birth to a set of male triplets in a private hospital in Abuja. The couple had been childless before then.
Soje, a Grade Level 16 Officer in the Kogi State Teaching Service Commission, was being owed 11 months’ salary arrears as at the time he took his life.
He hailed from Ogori town in Ogori -Magongo Local Government area of the state.
He had before killing himself travelled to Abuja and left a suicide note for the wife who also works in one of the federal ministries.
“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, the God Almighty will keep you and prosper you, amen. I love you,” according to the suicide note.
Confirming the incident, the state police command Public Relations Officer, ASP William Aya said that the dangling body of Soje was found on a tree behind the barracks at about 5:55 p.m on Oct. 16.
Aya said that 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, Lokoja. Investigation is still ongoing,” Aya said.
The police spokesman said that 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 Friday, Oct. 20.
Family sources said that Soje had before the incident been going through a lot of financial pressure due to non-payment of his salary 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 the wife gave birth to a set of triplets through Caesarian operation in a private hospital in Abuja on Oct. 7.
The deceased remained in the hospital to look after wife and children until Oct. 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 rejoined his wife and handed over the N30,000 cash to her.
On Oct. 14, Soje and wife were joined by two pastors and few relatives to perform a brief naming ceremony for the triplets in 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 return 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 the door severally but 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 shocked 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 fruit 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 that 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.
A member of the family, who spoke on condition of anonymity, described the late Soje as a “very quiet and lovable human being. “
He said that some members of the family have been sent to Abuja to break the news to the wife and refused to answer further questions.
Kogi govt spends N21m on salaries advert; director commits suicide over non-payment of 11 months salaries
Additiinal reports by Kola Adeyemi on www.nan.ng