I wept uncontrollably. I wept when the news got to me that one of my best friends Kokobili Edward had been killed by the convoy of Governor Danbaba Danfulani Suntai of Taraba State.
The sad incidence occurred along the International Airport Road in Abuja on Monday the 23rd of January 2012.
The last time I saw Eddy alive was around the 27th or 28th of December 2010 when I visited Nigeria. We attended the Festac Grammar School alumni meeting together on the 26th and he invited me and my family to his house at 512 Road in Festac Town.
Even in December 2006 Eddy and I had a swell time together during my visit to Lagos that year. We were together for the entire 2 weeks that I spent in Nigeria and I remember how he drove me to the Murtala International Airport on the night of my departure.
I have several fond memories of Eddy. From the time we had together at Festac Grammar School (1984-1989) until 2010 I cannot recall a day that Eddy was angry or off beat. He was always smiling and very friendly. His laughter was infective and everyone recalls of his good deeds and happy moods.
Eddy was planning to get married this month-February 2012. So he had travelled to Abuja the fateful weekend of week 3 to start his wedding plans. His fiancée, the love of his life, lives in Abuja and he had travelled on Friday the 20th to fulfill the first of the marriage rituals-the Introduction ceremony.
It was a successful ceremony that Saturday and Eddy was in high spirit that weekend. He was able to gather together friends and families in Abuja for the introduction ceremony. He skipped the burden of transporting people from Lagos for the Abuja ceremony.
On his last day on earth Eddy was in a hurry to get back to Lagos and to return to work. He was obviously looking forward to sharing the good news about of the successful introduction ceremony with his other family members in Lagos. He never made it.
According to an eyewitness account, there was heavy traffic on the International Airport Road and the threat caused by the Boko Haram incursions into Abuja was an additional problem. The check points made travelling to the airport cumbersome and the movement of vehicular traffic was slower than normal.
In any case Eddy disembarked from the taxi and was negotiating with an okada rider when he was crushed to death by the car belonging to the Taraba state governor. Eddy had his back to the main traffic so he stood no chance when the overspeeding car went on the pedestrian path. He was killed on the spot.
Eddy became a victim of both the insecurity in Nigeria and the recklessness of government agencies.
The alumni association, friends of Eddy and the Kokobilis are asking question and looking for justice.
Governor Danbaba was already at the airport. Why was his driver in such an extreme haste to pick him up? Why did the reckless driver decide to drive along the pedestrian path? Was that a regular procedure for the governor’s convoy-that is-to drive at high speed and along pedestrian paths? Did the driver ignore a red traffic light which could have spared Eddy’s life?
What is the governor of Taraba State doing to ensure that the families of Eddy Kokobili are comforted in their sorrow? Who will console us-his friends and other acquaintances?
Is Mr. Danbaba planning to visit the family in Festac Town Lagos to express his condolence and sympathy over the recklessness of his official driver? Will this governor pay a personal condolence visit to Eddy’s fiancée and her family in Abuja to express his regret over the irreparable loss?
In general how many more lives are we going to destroy as a result of the carelessness and recklessness of government officials?
The office of Governor Danbaba Suntai or its representatives may have accepted guilt in this case but they must go beyond that. They must demonstrate that they really have human feelings and that the loss is unwarranted and highly regrettable.
They must participate in the burial ceremony and give the Kokobilis the utmost support that they need at this time. By taking adequate responsibilities for this sad loss the Taraba State governor can ensure that a healing process is initiated among the friends and families of Edward Kokobili. We loved him so much and we can’t believe he’s gone forever.
The reckless driver who drove the SUV Nissan that killed Eddy was reportedly arrested by the police. It would be useful to ascertain the mental condition of the driver. The investigation should cover whether he was driving under the influence. More importantly, he should be prosecuted without delay to serve as a deterrent for other reckless drivers in Nigeria.
Edward Kokobili lived a good life. Like the rest of us he struggled to make it in life. He was determined to succeed and he was still on his way up before he met his untimely death. He was the head of a company called Feed Addictives, Agrochemicals & Veterinary Products, Vitacem Nigeria Ltd.
Eddy was a graduate of the University of Benin and an active member of both the Festac Grammar School Alumni Projects Management Group and Festac Grammar School Old Students Association Klass ‘89.
Edward Kokobili will be missed by his brothers, families and friends.
Who will comfort us in our sorrow?
Eddy, you won’t be there the next time I’ll be on 512 Road. I will miss you. Sun re o..!