Mr. Edward Kehinde Soje may not have come from a rich family but he was not a stranger to comfort.
His father was said to have retired from the police as Deputy Commissioner. Some of his extended family members in Ogori community of Ogori/Mangogo local government area of Kogi State were also said to be top politicians.
Soje, a Director in Kogi State Civil Service, committed suicide by hanging himself on a tree at the Mammy Side of the Army Barracks in Lokoja, the state capital. His dangling body was said to have been found by a farmer who alerted the personnel at the Nigeria Army Command Record.
The 54-year-old apparently took his life barely nine days after his wife of 17 years gave birth to a set of male triplets in a private hospital in Abuja through IVF. The couple had been childless before then.
He was on Grade Level 16 in the Kogi State Teaching Service Commission and owed 11 months’ salary as of the time of the apparent suicide.
He had, before killing himself, travelled to Abuja and left a suicide note for the wife who works in one of the federal ministries.
Read the suicide note, “Psalm 121:3: God will not suffer your foot to be moved: He that keepeth you will not slumber.
Amen. You and the three boys, the God Almighty will keep you and prosper you. Amen. I love you”. Kogi State Police Command Public Relations Officer, ASP William Aya, who confirmed the suicide, said the dangling body of Soje was found on a tree behind the barracks at about 5:55 pm on October 16. Family sources said the deceased Director had been going through financial pressure due to the non-payment of his salary.
He was among thousands of civil servants in Kogi being owed between two and 21 months’ salary. As a way out, he was said to have sold his only car and a three-bedroom bungalow he was building at Otokiti area of Lokoja.
The building, allegedly at lintel level, was said to have been sold by Soje at a giveaway price of N1.5 million in April to meet urgent family needs.
According to the sources, his financial woes became compounded when the wife gave birth to triplets through Caesarian Section in a private hospital in Abuja on October 7.
The deceased remained in the hospital to look after wife and children until October 13, a day before the naming ceremony when he decided to come back to Lokoja. On getting to Lokoja, Soje allegedly went to his bank to collect the remaining N30, 000 in his account and thereafter informed the bank in writing about his decision to close the account.
He then rejoined his wife and handed over the N30, 000 cash to her. On October 14, Soje and wife were joined by two pastors and some relatives to perform a brief naming ceremony for the triplets in the hospital. He later left the hospital on the pretext that he wanted to pick few things from the wife’s apartment in Abuja with a promise to come back quickly.
But the deceased did not return for hours and did not pick calls made to his telephone line, a development which forced the wife to send somebody to the house to ascertain what was happening to him.
The person, on getting to the apartment, knocked the door severally but no response and decided to call his telephone number. On hearing the telephone ringing out from the apartment, the person was said to have knocked severally again but no response.
This made him to seek the assistance of neighbours to force the door open.
When the door was opened, the people were shocked when they saw Soje’s telephone handset placed on a suicide note on the centre table in the sitting room while he was nowhere to be found. When the wife was informed, she quickly contacted some people to begin a search for him in Abuja while relations and friends in Lokoja were also informed of the development.
Efforts made to locate him did not yield fruit until relations decided to visit hospitals in Lokoja.
The decision paid off eventually on Friday, October 20 when the corpse of Soje was found in the morgue of the Federal Medical Centre, Lokoja.
A member of the family said that the management of the hospital explained to them that Soje’s corpse was brought in by the police, who found it dangling on a tree. He described the late Soje as a “very quiet and lovable human being.