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My pregnant wife died after Lagos govt demolished our home – Husband

A housekeeper, Joshua Vandi, tells TEMITOPE ADETUNJI how his pregnant wife, Ladi, died after the demolition of their home by Lagos State task force members in the Oworonshoki area of the state in July 2023

Last Thursday, you lamented that your wife died from the trauma she experienced after your home was destroyed. Can you recall how the event unfolded?

My name is Joshua Vandi. I work at Eura Care Multi-Specialist Hospital as a housekeeping supervisor. I presently live on Oluwaseun Street, Oworonshoki, and I’m 36 years old. I am from the Michika Local Government Area of Adamawa State.

The demolition of my apartment by Lagos State task force officials led to the death of my pregnant wife, Ladi. She died at Afolabi Memorial Hospital, Oworo Road. What happened was that as a resident of Oworonshoki, on 33 Odunfa Street, I am a landowner. I bought one and a half plots from the original landowners where I built a bungalow which my wife and I lived in for almost two years. On that fateful day, I was at work when the task force members who came to demolish the house arrived.

Were you notified before the demolition was carried out?

There was no notice whatsoever, and there was no compensation. I was at work in July 2023 when my wife called to inform me that they (the task force members) were about to demolish the house. My wife runs her business from the house, and she was in serious distress, especially since she was heavily pregnant. I consoled her and met the man in charge of the demolition, explaining to him that he should consider my wife’s situation and spare our house.

What did he tell you when you told him about your wife’s condition?

He told me that if I had any complaints, I should go to the secretariat in Alausa, Lagos. He insisted on demolishing my house, saying that I had better go in and remove all my valuables. At some point, people took my wife from the scene, and the task force (members) shot tear gas canisters to disperse people who were gathering and making a video. They (the task force members) seized some phones and destroyed them. However, I discreetly made a video of the scene. I resisted them, and the tear gas canister shot; I did not back down. They proceeded to burn down houses. I can say that my wife never recovered from the shock of the incident. All my efforts to console her proved abortive.

After the demolition of your apartment, where did you take shelter?

A friend from church later gave me a room to live in on Oluwaseun Street, Oworonshoki. If I tell you that half of my possessions got burnt in my house, you won’t believe it. My family and I have been squatting in that single room.

Do you have children?

Yes, I do.

How old are they?

The first one is eight years old, and the second one is a little over four years old. My third child was born in 2021. After the birth of my third child, we moved into our house. He was about four months old around that time.

It was reported that the state government said it demolished what it described as shanties which used to serve as a hideout for criminals. Do you agree with that?

Saying that the houses were criminal hideouts is extremely unfair. Since I moved to that area, I have never experienced anything like violence or criminal activities. There is nothing like that, so its claim is not true. There were times I came back from work late and never experienced any criminal acts. To me, the environment is peaceful. The government should do something for the people whose buildings were demolished. It is not fair.

My wife was doing her business in the house but had to stop after our apartment was demolished. Her blood pressure became extremely high because of the situation and it led to her death. We were at least living a bit of a comfortable life before the incident happened.

After the demolition, we protested at the secretariat in Alausa. They (government officials) promised to address us. Some government officials from Kosofe, Bariga, Ikorodu, and about five other areas came out to address us. They said they would look into it and that they were not aware of any demolition notice. They told us to return on September 5, 2023. I showed up but there was no reasonable response. We proceeded to the Ogudu local government council secretariat. The chairman came out and addressed us. The chairman showed us genuine care and kept the time he had fixed with us the following day, which I appreciated. The chairman shared palliatives to the affected people around but they rejected them. He later handed the distribution of the palliatives to another man who shared them among people who were not even affected by the demolition.

You said your wife died from the trauma she suffered after the demolition. Can you describe how she died?

 When the demolition happened, she checked herself into a hospital because she felt the baby inside her had become inactive. She later returned home, but after that moment, she became very apprehensive of any slight noise or sudden movements around the house. After a while, the hospital she went to for treatment was closed down for reasons we were not aware of. So, we went to another hospital where it was discovered she had high blood pressure. After a while, the doctor suggested an ultrasound scan be performed on her. On Wednesday, September 13, 2023, she began to have complications. When she returned to the hospital, the doctor gave me the situation report that she was due for delivery. My wife felt she was going to deliver her baby that day.

Later, my wife began to complain of pain and pleaded that she should be operated on. I complained to the doctor that my wife was in pain, but the doctor downplayed it as labour pains. In my presence, my wife started giving up, and when I drew the doctor’s attention to it, he asked me whether I wanted to teach him his job. So, I decided to stay calm but told him that I did not want them to tell me later that my wife had died. So, I left my wife’s bedside and went outside to stay. Unfortunately, the doctor later broke the news to me that she was dead, and I became helpless. Sincerely speaking, I was very angry.

What else did they tell you?

They said they tried their best. I work in a hospital and I know when someone has tried their best on you. I know that if my wife were the doctor’s relative, he would have done better. I was just helpless and wished I could have operated on her if I had the medical experience. However, I couldn’t blame them because of her rising blood pressure. I attribute her death to the demolition of our house. My wife used to support me financially at times, apart from taking care of the children. So, seeing me bearing all the responsibility was too much for her to take.

How old was your wife, and where was she from?

My wife was 32 years old and was also from the Michika Local Government Area of Adamawa State.

What was her occupation?

She used to sell provisions. She used to sell them in the house, and she was well-known in the area because of the way she conducted herself in business.

Has she been buried?

Her family members have tried to assist me. As I am talking to you, my wife’s corpse is in the mortuary. People have rallied around me, including my pastor and church members. We will be traveling to our village with her corpse soon, and it will cost a lot. I don’t know where the funds will come from because I am broke. However, I appreciate those who have assisted me financially. She will be buried this week if we get the funds.

Life has not been easy for me without her. I have been the one taking care of the children. I miss her so much, and losing her is a bad experience for me. I miss so many things about my wife. She was a lovely and supportive wife. She didn’t nag, and she was extremely supportive as a wife. I remember that there were times she came to my rescue financially whenever I was broke. She was hardworking. She is a peacemaker, calm, and very friendly to the neighbours.

How have her parents and siblings been coping with loss?

It has not been easy for any one of them. Her death is a tragedy. Her stepmother even died about two days ago because of the shock. Her younger sister fainted when she heard about the incident (my wife’s death); it took many hours before she was revived. Her mother is in pain and we’ve been trying to console her.

Where is her father?

Her father is late; he died many years ago. The demolition led to the death of my wife; we were doing fine before the incident. She was doing her business at the place we were before the demolition, and we were both happy. When the demolition happened, my wife lost control of herself and kept crying. All these affected her badly.

What would you like to see happen in terms of justice or compensation for your family’s losses?

The government should help us with accommodation, and finance, and assist my children. I am in pain and it is not easy for me. My wife died because all we had was taken away from us. I am seeking a better future for my children in a way that they will not remember the death of their mother. I can’t even afford their school fees anymore, having lost everything after the demolition. My properties were burnt. I don’t know how to survive; no one has even supported me. Government officials only show concern for themselves; they do not know what hunger is, and they don’t know what people are going through. The government should do something to improve the condition of my family, especially my children. It ought to have informed people properly and even compensated them. I don’t know where to start. We’ve been in Alausa several times with no positive response; the response we got from the government was poor.

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