The family of an artiste, Ifeanyi Kalu, has been thrown into mourning after personnel of the Nigerian Air Force, NAF accused of driving on the Bus Rapid Transit lane to navigate their way to a destination in Lagos State, allegedly crushed him to death.
Mr Kalu was on his way to work in Ilupeju when the tragedy struck on the BRT lane along the Ikorodu Road.
His remains were said to have been dumped in a mortuary at the Nigerian Air Force base in the state.
Describing Kalu’s death as a big loss to his family, one Segun Adefila, chronicled the circumstances surrounding the artist’s death on his Facebook page.
He stated that Ifeanyi’s death occurred two months after his mother’s death, adding that the 31-year-old left six siblings and an aged father behind.
The post read in part, “Ifeanyi was a young Nigerian artiste who was diminutive in stature but gigantic in strides. His life was one huge struggle for survival without a thought for crime but through a dint of hard work.
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“Born on the 15th of July 1990, Ifeanyi was the second son of his economically disadvantaged family and the fourth child. He was a major breadwinner of the family, a loaf of bread not only rarely gotten but also never buttered.
“Their mother and matriarch of the Kalu clan passed on on the 27th of August 2021. On October 20, 2021, Ifeanyin’s life was cut short on the expressway of Ikorodu Road. He lived with his aged father and 6 siblings and left them at home on that fateful day for a job he just secured.
“He was on his way to a school (Temple Schools, Ilupeju) where he was helping to teach the pupils cultural dance and music. A Nigerian Air Force vehicle traveling on a BRT lane knocked him down. Ifeanyi’s body is still in the Nigerian Air Force base mortuary.
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“Ifeanyin’s mum is also still in another mortuary. His bereaved family who are definitely inconsolable at the moment also stands the risk of not getting any form of tangible compensation from those whose vehicle knocked him down.”
Reacting, spokesperson for the Nigerian Air Force, Edward Gabkwat, refuted Adefila’s claim that Air Force vehicle crushed Kalu, adding that the 31-year-old was knocked down by a commercial bus.
He said, “I can categorically tell you that what they said is contrary to what happened. An air force vehicle did not kill or crush the victim. From what I learnt, the victim was trying to cross a road and an air force vehicle that was approaching, saw the victim, and the vehicle suddenly stopped.
“The victim, who was apparently in shock at how the vehicle stopped, tried to go back to where he was coming from and I understood that a danfo vehicle crushed the victim. As an organization with responsible personnel, the personnel who were in that vehicle felt it will be out of place to see such an incident and a victim in that particular state, be ignored.
“So, they decided on their own that they needed to assist and conveyed this victim to an air force hospital and that was how the victim ended up in our own hospital. Unfortunately, it was in that process that this victim gave up.
“When the victim passed on, the family asked the air force for assistance to bury him and I understood that they came up with a sum of N500,000 and that they want the air force to assist them. The air force leadership in the base volunteered to contribute more than half of what they asked.”
Responding to the allegation of the air force personnel plying the BRT corridor, he said, “Let the traffic police determine which route was followed. As far as I am concerned, the NAF vehicle did not break the law.”
But prior to the above comment, Adefila said the military later offered the family a compensation of N200,000.
“But why would they agree to take him to their place or even agree to pay anything if they did not hit him?” he also queried.
Adefila, who spoke to PUNCH Metro, clarified that the deceased was hit between the Obanikoro and Anthony ends of the Ikorodu Road.
While insisting that the Air Force was responsible for the accident, he said some companies in the vicinity could confirm his claim with their CCTV footage.
“According to them, he (Ifeanyi) had got to the BRT lane when they (NAF vehicle) hit him. He fell on the expressway and a commercial bus just finished the job they started. What kept everybody quiet was that they acted immediately by picking him up,” he added.
Ifeanyi’s brother, Ikechukwu Kalu, also denied that the family sought the assistance of the military adding that the military vehicle hit him first before the ‘said’ commercial vehicle.
He said, “They were the ones that first hit him and the impact of hitting my brother pushed him on the expressway where the bus killed him. Even the person speaking to us on behalf of the Air Force said their vehicle brushed him on the BRT lane.
“They first rushed him to a nearby hospital where he was rejected before they took him to the military hospital where he died on that same day. We are not seeking assistance; I have the message they sent us asking for a meeting and to know what we want them to do for us.”
The Head, Corporate Communications, Primero Transport Services Limited, operator of the BRT, Mutiu Yekeen, while commiserating with the victim’s family, described the incident as regrettable.
He said, “In our own operation, we always inform our busmen to be very careful when driving on the BRT corridor, let alone people that are not supposed to use the lane. Anybody that is not permitted by LAMATA to use the corridor is passing there illegally.”
A spokesperson for the Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority, Kolawole Ojelabi, said the agency had made efforts to stop illegal use of the BRT lane.
He said, “We have done a lot of advocacy and have even visited the Air Force base in Ikeja to tell them of the need to help us appeal to military personnel, particularly air force personnel not to use the BRT lane. The BRT lane is reserved for BRT buses and not for any other vehicle.”
The state Police Public Relations Officer, CSP Adekunle Ajisebutu, had yet to respond to calls made to his phone as of the time this report was filed.
A social media user, Eben, while lamenting the victim’s death, urged his family to take up the case with the military authorities.
He said, “This report exposing the incident is a very good publicity not only for the victims but also to reiterate the lawlessness of some military men on the road. I hope the relatives will take further action against the Airforce at the state office/command level, if it doesn’t work at their head office and if that also doesn’t work, go international.
Another reader, Chaibie, stated, “Oh so sad, what a country. The Air force officials denied this happened and now making a u-turn to offer the country 200,000 naira for wasting a 31 yrs old man just like that, he didn’t commit any crime, words cannot explain the feelings.”
One Curtx Maccido wrote, “Are these rogues in uniform meant to be citizens of this country? How dare anyone in uniform ply the road meant for BRT – why do ‘guys-in-uniform’ believe they are different from other Nigerians? Shouldn’t we remove their uniforms, prosecute and send these crooks to jail?
“How can we have airforce/army or navy contravening laws? So disheartening and sad about the loss of an innocent citizen….this is disgraceful.”