Akeem Zakariyah, the younger brother of the late electrician, Kozeem Zakariyah, has made some revelations on the circumstances surrounding the death of the 42-year-old man, his wife, their four children and two guests.
He said some unknown persons had attempted to wipe out the family few days earlier when the wife and three of the children fainted around 4.30am after reportedly inhaling some chemical substance.
Akeem stated that the couple took the strange occurrence as a spiritual attack and invited some clerics to pray over it.
The tragedy finally struck on Wednesday when the family members were found dead in their Olowora residence, Mafoluku, Oshodi, Lagos together with their guests – a woman, Medinat, and her daughter, Wasilat.
It was gathered that Medinat had brought Wasilat, a pupil, to spend the last week of the holiday with Zakariyas and she (the mother) also decided to pass the night.
All the eight people in the apartment – Kozeem, 42; his wife, Aminat; their children, Aliya, 10; Fridaus, seven; Taiye and Kehinde five; Wasilat 15 and her mother – were choked.
It was learnt that Aminat died on the way to hospital while Kehinde gave up at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, Ikeja, later on Wednesday. The six others died on the spot.
Autopsy is being awaited to ascertain the cause of death.
When our correspondent visited the community on Thursday, the one-storey building had been condoned off and sealed. Shops around the scene of the incident did not open for commercial activities.
Residents were seen discussing the tragedy in hushed tone, but declined to speak with City Round.
Some distance away at Ariyo Close where our correspondent met with Kozeem’s brother, Akeem, the ambience was filled with grief as sympathisers came in droves.
Looking pale and exhausted, Akeem led this reporter to a mosque in a compound. He shook head sorrowfully as he narrated the events leading to the sad occurrence. “My brother returned from work around 11pm in his car on Tuesday and dropped his partner at his house within the community,” he began.
“From my observation, somebody sprayed the room with chemical from outside to kill him and his family. It was not food poisoning because some neighbours ate from the food his wife prepared that evening. I learnt he was outside with some neighbours until around 1am when he went into his apartment. I gave him a prayer which he usually commenced at 1am and it would last for an hour. From all indications, he went inside to start the prayer.
“Those that carried out the act monitored him. They actually targeted the time he fell asleep after the prayer and wasted the family. The window net of his apartment was filled with the odour of chemical. He could not have sprayed the room at night. And if the room was already sprayed before he went in, he would have raised the alarm.
“I learnt that there was an attempt to kill him and his family last week. His neighbours told us that around 4.30am, four of the family members – the wife and three children – fainted. Instead of them to share what happened with us, they invited some clerics to pray for them thinking it was a spiritual attack. The person must have used a more powerful substance this time around so that they would not survive it. Those that went inside the room to bring out their bodies came out with red eyes due to the effect of the chemical. They said what they perceived was very dangerous.”
Akeem explained that Kozeem’s body was found by the door with his wife lying on his laps, suggesting that they struggled to escape from the room.
Recalling his lifetime, the brother narrated how the electrician, popularly known as Cool Money in the neighouhood, laboured hard to fend for his immediate and the extended family.
He said his generosity endeared him to many people, including the late Medinat and her daughter, who were once his neighbours.
He stated, “My brother cared about his family and work. If we need N50,000 for an event in the family, he could give us N40,000 though he might not attend that event because he was very busy. He hardly attended parties and he didn’t go out with friends. He was well known in the community for his work.
“It was over one year now that he last saw our mother. All he did was sending money to her. She called him two days before the incident that he should send her pocket money. She lives at his house in Ijoko, Ogun State and we have not told her about what happened.
“The last time we both visited her, he got so many calls from his customers and he was complaining that was the reason why he didn’t go out to visit people. If he attended a function at all, he would not spend more than 10 minutes. He was not sociable.”
Having lived together for many years in the one-room apartment, the bond between Akeem and Kozeem was so strong that they barely hid things from each other.
“He was open to me. He brought me up. I was the one supervising the construction of his second building. We saw each other on Tuesday. I didn’t know why he didn’t tell me that his wife and three children fainted. He was a very simple person. He didn’t drink; he didn’t womanise or gamble. I don’t know whom he offended and decided to pay him back this way,” he added.
Akeem told City Round that Kozeem was an auto electrician until in 2006 when he switched to wiring of buildings after two-month training, describing the deceased as an intelligent person.
“He was the number one electrician in this community. People call him Cool Money because he didn’t charge his customers much for his service. It was unfortunate that he didn’t live to reap the fruit of his labour. I believe the police can fish out the killer if they wanted to do their job,” the bereaved brother stated.
A cleric, who taught Kozeem Quran, Tirimisiyu Odewale, said he had yet to come to terms with the tragedy.
He said the deceased was a responsible person right from his teenager, noting that the vacuum left by his death would be sorely felt.
Odewale said, “Kozeem was so generous that he allowed his wife to give food to neighbours. Whenever he was free during the day, he would come to the mosque to relax. Sometimes, he would be reciting Quran.
“He had been taking care of his parents and siblings since he finished secondary school. He continued with the responsibility after his father died.
“Some people were saying it was generator fumes that killed them. It was a lie because there was power supply throughout that night. We want the police to investigate the case and bring the perpetrator to book.”
A sympathiser and secondary school friend of the late Kozeem, Bukola, also spoke glowingly about him.
“We were very close friends. My child, who is 15 years old now, was three when we moved to Arewa, Mafoluku, and he was the one that did the wiring of our apartment.
“I learnt about the incident on Wednesday and I became destabilised. I didn’t know on time that the victims were people dear to me. It was this morning (Thursday) that somebody told me it involved Cool Money. It was very unfortunate; may God save us from evil people,” she said.