16th February, 2015
Okafor Ofiebor/Port Harcourt
Bayelsa state has been thrown into deep mourning following the death of prominent Bayelsa women politicians. The victims met their tragic death in a ghastly auto crash near Old Ahoada Market road along East-West road, Rivers State.
Among those who lost their lives include the wife of Prof. Edmond Oguru, the Secretary to the State Government, Mrs. Elizabeth Allison-Oguru, former member of the State House of Assembly from Brass Local Government and Special Adviser to Governor Seriake Dickson, Mrs. Ruby Benjamin, a former Commissioner for Women Affairs under the administration of Gov. Timipre Sylva, Hon. Gimbra Panowei, and Woman Leader from Otuoke Community in Ogbia Local Government, Madam Consider Amadi.
Also killed in the accident was the wife of the owner of a popular Montessori school known as Ayakpo International schools, Mrs. Inamamu Ayakpor.
Also involved in the auto crash was Mrs Ebisinte Ayabowei, a former Bayelsa State commissioner, while the former commissioner for Transport, Mrs.Marie Ebikake, who was recently sacked by Governor Seriake Dickson’s administration for alleged disloyalty to his administration, was also in Okrika on a private visit but was reported to have driven back to Yenagoa in a separate vehicle and escaped being part of the ill-fated journey to the airport.
They were on their way back to Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital, from the Port Harcourt International Airport, where they went to see off Mrs Patience Jonathan, wife of President Goodluck Jonathan.
The women, who were members of Mrs Jonathan’s female wing of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, known as Women For Change Initiative, had gone on a private visit to the country home of Patience Jonathan in Okrika community in Rivers State and proceeded to see her off to the airport on her way to Abuja..
According to preliminary report from men of the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) issued by the Bayelsa State Commander, Vincent Jack, 29 passengers in three separate vehicles were involved in the accident, and 18 persons were reportedly injured, while 11 others were burnt beyond recognition.
The three vehicles involved were identified as a Toyota Hiace Bus with registration number GBB 591 FS, Toyota Sienna with registration number ABU 640 AE and Toyota Highlander SUV with registration number, YEN 371 RJ.
The FRSC boss who attributed the cause of the accident to tyre burst said, “the injured were taken to Madonna Hospital in Elele by the police who arrived the scene first.”
The corpse of one of the dead women was deposited at a mortuary in Ahoada, while police took another corpse to Rumuji. Nine others were burnt beyond recognition”.
In the first official reaction, the Bayelsa State Governor, Henry Seriake Dickson, in a signed statement by his Chief Press Secretary, CPS, Daniel Iwariso-Markson, expressed deep pains, shock and grief over the sudden death of the wife of Professor Edmond Allison-Oguru and other prominent Bayelsa women.
In a statement, Governor Dickson described the incident as tragic, a monumental and a painful loss to the state.
Governor Dickson also prayed God to grant the bereaved families the courage and strength to bear the very painful and irreparable losses.
Meanwhile, a Government House statement says all official engagements of the Governor have been suspended for three days as a mark of honour and respect for the souls of the departed women.
Also, the wife of the President, Patience Jonathan, on Sunday commiserated with the Bayelsa Government over the death of the women.
A statement by her Media Assistant, Mr Ayo Adewuyi, in Abuja said “the First Lady prays the Almighty God to grant the souls of the deceased eternal rest.
“She also prays God to give the families the fortitude to bear the irreparable loss,” the statement said.
The Rivers State PDP Campaign Organisation has also condoled the Government and people of Bayelsa State on the death of the top PDP women.
In a statement issued by Emma Okah, Chairman, Media and Publicity of the Organisation, the party said the PDP Governorship Candidate in Rivers State Chief Nyesom Wike, leaders and members of the party are deeply pained by this loss, coming at a time when the services of these great women are needed most in family and nation building.
Mr Okah prayed God to grant eternal rest to the souls of the deceased and give the bereaved families the fortitude to bear this irreparable loss.