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Emotion ran high on Friday as Lance Corporal Adegboyega Adebayo, one of the two soldiers killed by hoodlums two days before the Rivers State rerun election, was buried in the Iyesi area of Ogun State.

During the burial, tearful parents, brothers and friends of the 34-year-old soldier, who was shot dead on the sea in the Abonema, Akuku-Toru Local Government Area of Rivers State on March 17, decried lack of concern from both the Rivers State and the federal government

They said apart from the military, no government official had sent a condolence message or visited the family even though he died in the line of duty.

Succeeded by parents, a wife, and two children –   Marvelous, 6, and two-month-old Mercy – Adegboyega was described as the breadwinner of his extended family.

It was learnt that he was on an assignment when his wife put to bed and had yet to see the baby before his death.

His 66-year-old mother, Clara Adebayo, called for an investigation into the circumstances surrounding her son’s death, saying that the family had been dealt a big blow.

She said, “He is the breadwinner of the family. His siblings are well educated, but without jobs; he was the one assisting them. The killers have ruined my family.  The Rivers State Government should do whatever it can to help the family. He did not know his baby.”

The deceased’s father, Victor, a retired civil servant, said, “He died serving the country. I learnt he was shot dead at close range.

“So far, no government official, either from  the Rivers State Government or the Federal Government, has visited us. I appeal to the state governor (Nyesom) Wike, to fulfil the pledge of compensation he made. He should not forget the family,” he said.

The deceased’s wife, Tawakalitu, 32, said that she spoke with her husband two hours before his death, adding that the incident was still a mystery to her.

She said, “He was a loving and caring man. It was on March 17 that he called me that he was going for election duty and I told him to inform me when he got to where they posted him. About two hours later, I called his line, but it was no longer going through. I did not get any information until on Monday when my dad told me he was late.

“The death was unusual. They were many on patrol. I don’t know where to start from. I gave birth to a child a few days before he died and he did not set his eyes on the baby. How will I cope?What kind of life is this? The Rivers State Government should come to our aid.”

Charles Adebayo, the immediate younger brother of the late soldier, blamed the crisis between the All Progressives Congress and the Peoples Democratic Party in the state for the death of his brother.

He said, “There are two masters holders in the family, but we are jobless. He was the breadwinner of the entire family.

“His death has dealt an irreparable blow to the family. It is something that could have been avoided. More pathetic is his new-born baby he was unable to see. He was supposed to attend the naming, but he could not because of the nature of his job.

“We learnt that he was heading for where he was posted for the election and there was a distress call from somewhere. God knows who made the call, but they made a U-turn.

“On the way, an ambush was laid for them.  People said Wike promised to do something reasonable to help the family, but as of now, we have not heard anything from him. In my opinion, it was the political crisis in that state that caused his death.”

A soldier, Hamisu, one of Gboyega’s colleagues from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, described him “as a good soldier, very diligent and obedient. He joked with everybody; may his soul rest in perfect peace.”

The deceased’s friend, Taiwo Adegoke, said, “He is the only friend I have. We have known each other for 20 years. I have yet to get over the trauma. He was like a brother to me.  He was a soldier from the beginning to the end.

“Based on the information I gathered, they were on patrol without using a gunboat, which is not acceptable. South-South is a volatile area, where gunboats are expected to be used at all times. 

Maybe it was sabotage, I can’t say. But his death could have probably been avoided if a gunboat was provided.”
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