The arrival of Mr Okene’s new baby was immediately followed by the death of his five other children in a night fire that engulfed their house at E 36, Faskari Street in the Kakuri area of the Kaduna metropolis.
The fire outbreak believed to have been caused by candlelight occurred at about 11 pm on Thursday while Okene went on a visit to his wife at the St. Gerard Catholic Hospital where she had just been delivered of a baby.
The deceased children’s names were given as, Sadiya (16), Ramat (11), Monsir (7), Khalid (9), while the name of the fifth child, who was said to be 14 years old, could not be ascertained at press time. They have since been buried according to Islamic rites.
One of the children was said to have died on the way to the hospital, three others died at the hospital while the fifth died while Okene had gone to bury the other four.
News of the death of the fifth child was said not to have been broken to him yet while he spoke reporters amid sobs.
Okene said he had earlier taken the children to the hospital to see their mother and the new baby. He took them back home and returned to the hospital only to be told a few hours later that his house was on fire.
By the time he got home, the two-bedroom apartment had been razed and the five children had been badly burnt.
“Life is now meaningless to me. I will only take solace in God. It is a terrible moment in my life. Losing five children is the worst thing that has happened to me in life. I can’t even wish that my enemies go through the kind of pain I am going through right now. But Allah, who gives life, is also the one that takes it, and only He knows why He took them.“I had a cordial relationship with my children. We lived happily together, and it is very difficult for me to forget. Yesterday, I took them to their mother in the hospital to see her after undergoing caesarean operation to deliver a baby. I prayed with my children in the hospital for Allah’s protection over them and their mother.”
The Nation learnt that efforts by neighbours to force the door open to rescue the children initially proved difficult. By the time they finally succeeded in breaking the door, the victims were in terrible conditions.
The fire was said to have been put off by fire fighters and neighbours at about 11.30 pm.
Eyewitnesses said, “We suspected candle light, because the eldest of them, Sadiya, had gone to buy kerosene earlier, but she did not get kerosene. So, she bought a candle which they lit and slept off.”