Family members and neighbours were thrown into confusion following the death of five members of a family and their guest in Lagos on Wednesday.
The corpses of an electrician, Kazeem Zakariya; his wife, Aminat; three of their children, Aliya, Firidaus and Taye, and a guest, Wasilat, were discovered in the family’s one-room apartment at No. 19 Raheem Olowora Street, Mafoluku, in the Oshodi area of the state.
PUNCH Metro gathered from eyewitnesses that their corpses were discovered when neighbours, who observed that none of the family members had come out to perform their early morning chores, broke the door of their room after they failed to respond to repeated calls.
Upon entering the room, the neighbours discovered that all the family members and their guest were lying on the floor with foamy substances and blood on their mouths.
Kazeem, Aliya, Firidaus, Taye and Wasilat were said to have died by the time neighbours forced their way into the room, while Aminat and her daughter, Kehinde, were found unconscious and were rushed to the Divine Hospital, Mafoluku, where the woman also lost her life.
Kehinde was said to be responding to treatment as of the time of filing this report.
An eyewitness, Abdulkareem Akeju, said the victims most likely died of food poisoning, adding that the incident shocked neighbours and residents of the area.
Akeju stated, “We were called upon this morning that no one from the Zakariya family had come out of their room. We knew this was unusual because his wife and children usually come out early to do their chores.
“So, the neighbours were confused and after several failed attempts at calling them, we broke down the door and when we entered the room, we saw all members of the family lying on the floor with foamy substances and blood coming out of their mouths, which fueled the suspicion of food poisoning.
“Kazeem, 42; Aliya, 11; Fridaus, eight; Taye, six; and Wasilat were all dead, but the man’s wife, Aminat, who was pregnant, and Taye’s twin sister, Kehinde, were struggling to breath and so we rushed them to the Divine Hospital in Mafoluku, but Aminat died on the way.
“Everywhere is rowdy; the neighbours are in shock and Kazeem’s brother is crying profusely. He said he was informed about the incident around 9am.”
Another eyewitness, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the deceased probably died of excessive inhalation of an insecticide, Sniper, which was likely sprayed to kill mosquitoes in the room.
The eyewitness said, “When we entered the room, aside the suspicion that the family died of food poisoning, we smelt Sniper, meaning that the family must have sprayed the room with the insecticide to kill mosquitoes. So, it is possible that the Sniper they inhaled was responsible for their death.
“As for food poisoning, neighbours said Kazeem got home around 11.45pm on Tuesday, because he stayed back in his shop to attend to some of his customers, who experienced power outage. So, if it was food poisoning, his wife and children would have died before he got home.”
Kazeem’s brother, Akeem, said he had yet to inform their parents about the tragedy, adding that an autopsy was being conducted on the corpses to ascertain the actual cause of death.
The Oyo State indigene said, “My friend, Abass Adeguroye, who resides close to the area, informed me about the incident. I quickly rushed down there but people prevented me from going inside my brother’s room because of the way I reacted to the incident. I still saw him on Monday and he never told me that anything was bothering him. We have no concrete evidence as to what caused the death, but people were saying that it was as a result of food poisoning.
“But whenever my brother’s wife cooked, she usually gave portions to neighbours and that was what she did with the last meal they had on Tuesday. Nothing happened to the neighbours, who ate the food. I am still trying to get myself together; some tests are being conducted on the corpses to unravel the true cause of this tragedy. Though I heard that one of them is responding to treatment, but I can’t confirm that and I have not informed our parents.”
The state Police Public Relations Officer, Bala Elkana, said the corpses had been recovered for autopsy in a bid to unravel the mystery surrounding the incident.
Elkana stated, “In the family, the father, wife, three children and a guest died. One child survived and is still receiving treatment. We have yet to ascertain the actual cause of death, but the autopsy will reveal what actually killed them. Some people were thinking that it was the food they ate, because a pot of rice was recovered from the room, but we also gathered that two other neighbours, who ate the meal, are alive.
“But when our personnel got to the room, they perceived the odour of Sniper insecticide; so, members of the family might have intended to use the Sniper to kill mosquitoes and slept in the room. So, that could also be the cause of death, but investigation is still ongoing.”