For journalists, especially those of the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) Akure, February 1, 2014 will, for a long time to come, remain a sad day. That was the day a young promising reporter, Alex Akinwale, 35, his wife, Kehinde Rebecca, daughter, Pauline, 2, and maid were killed in an auto crash. Akinwale was not only a reporter of note.
He was also the chairman of the NTA Akure Chapel of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) and a minister at the Ondo Province 1 of the Redeemed Christian Church of God. His wife equally worked at the Marketing Department of the television station.
Their marriage was only five years old and blessed with two children. One of the children-a son, Paul, 5-was the sole survivor in their vehicle after the crash. At the time of crash, the deceased couple were reportedly expecting their third child as the wife was said to be six months pregnant.
For the deceased four, death came following a multiple crash said to have been caused by reckless driving by the driver of a traditional ruler, the Osunmakinde of Ife Tuntun, Osun State, Oba Obawure Taofeek Olaposi.
The crash involved the convoy of Ondo State Deputy Governor Alhaji Ali Olanusi penultimate Saturday. The previous day, Friday, the four members of the family and their maid, Bose, took off from their Oda Road, Akure residence for the burial ceremony of the cousin of Mr Akinwale in Ondo town in the family blue Toyota Sienna multi-purpose vehicle (MPV).
100 days prayer
Sunday Vanguard learnt that the family left Ondo heading back to Akure after the burial with Rebecca driving and with the hope of the husband joining the on-going 100 days prayer and fasting retreat of the RCCG in his church. They were only about five minutes-drive to Akure, around 12 noon, when tragedy struck at Aponmu-Owena along Akure –Ondo Road.
A white Toyota Camry car belonging to Oba Olaposi allegedly ran into the Deputy Governor’s convoy among other vehicles while trying to overtake some vehicles including the Akinwales.
It was gathered that the traditional ruler’s car rammed into the family’s car before hitting the Deputy Governor’s convoy.
The monarch and a teenage occupant in the vehicle were receiving treatment at the Trauma and Accident Centre in Ondo town following the injuries they sustained. Olanusi’s car escaped the crash but the security vehicle in his convoy was said to have been severely damaged
Akinwale family’s MPV was wrecked and sympathisers had a tough time removing the family members from it.
Alex and daughter made it to hospital but eventually gave up the ghost while the wife and maid reportedly died instantly at the spot of crash.
The corpses of the deceased deposited at the mortuary of the Ondo town Trauma and Accident Centre were buried on Thursday.
The Chief Press Secretary to the Ondo Deputy Governor, Mr Daisi Ajayi ,who described the incident as not only painful but unfortunate, noted that his principal was on his way to Ondo for an official assignment when the incident occurred.
Ajayi said one of the security cars in the Deputy Governor’s convoy was badly damaged as a result of the incident.
Meanwhile, it has been mourning at the premises of the NTA Akure following the death of the couple and their child.
Workers continue to gather in groups to discuss the incident that claimed the Chairman of the NUJ Chapel.
A burial service was held for the couple on Thursday at Orimolade Comprehensive High School, Sabo, Ondo town. Meanwhile, NUJ has commiserated with the Akinwale family.
A delegation of the union, comprising the National Deputy President, Rotimi Obamuwagun; Ondo State Chairman, Akinfolayan Owanikin; and Secretary, Ebenezer Adeniyan, visited the Akinwale family house in Ondo town.
Speaking on behalf of NUJ, Owanikin said the death of Alex was a great loss to the union and the journalism profession.
According to him, the deceased journalist was a thorough professional and an epitome of humility.
The union prayed God to grant the family the fortitude to bear the loss.
Receiving the NUJ delegation on behalf of the Akinwale family, Alex’s brother, Damilola, said the death of the quartet was a rude shock to the family.
He thanked the delegation for the visit and support for the family at their trying time.
Also the B-Zone of the NUJ has described the death of the Chairman of NTA Akure Chapel and the two other members of his family as a colossal loss.
The zone, in a statement by its Vice President, Dele Atunbi lamented that the deceased persons were cut down in their prime in an avoidable autocrash traceable to the recklessness of some road users.
It bemoaned a situation which has turned Paul, the only survivor of the crash and son of the Akinwales, into an orphan.