Brave Sgt Chukwudi Iboko’s son, 5, slumped & died at dad’s burial
Mrs. Rose Iboko, the wife of late valiant cop Sergeant Chukwudi Iboko, captured in a shootout with armed robbers in the viral Zenith bank robbery video has revealed that after she lost her husband in the tragic attack, one of her triplets slumped and died when he saw his father’s corpse.
Punch’s reporter, Chidiebube Okeoma, went to Amakohia in the Ihitte Uboma Local Government Area of the state, where the 32 year old widow resides with her seven children for an interview.
He revealed that Mrs Iboko broke down in tears when the incident leading to the death of her husband became the discourse.
Her grief is palpable. One only needs to cast a glance at Mrs. Rose Iboko to decipher that the anguish of losing her husband has taken a toll on her.
As she narrated how life took a turn for the worst for her and her seven kids after the death of her husband, she constantly wiped her tears with the back of her hand so her kids would not notice her distraught state.
Her first son, Favour, who is 16, cried profusely when asked the last time he spoke with his father before his death.
He said amid sobs, “I spoke with daddy two days before his death. He died on Thursday, but had promised to come home for the weekend. He promised to give me money for some textbooks I needed once he arrived. But he couldn’t fulfill his promise as he died two days to the day he promised to come home.’’
Here are excerpts from Mrs Rose Iboko’s interview with Punch:
I am Mrs. Rose Iboko, wife of the late Sergeant Chukwudi Iboko, the policeman who died as a result of the gunshot injuries he sustained in a shootout with armed robbers at the Wetheral Road branch of Zenith Bank on February 22, 2017.
We are from Etitiulo community in the Bende Local Government Area of Abia State, but we live in Amakohia in Ihitte Uboma Local Government Area of Imo State. I am 32 years old.
My late husband was from the same community with me. I am a housewife, while my husband was the breadwinner. I was only taking care of the home and our kids.
When did he die?
He died the next day after the incident on Thursday. Before I could arrive in Mopol 18 office in Owerri, my husband was already dead. It was in the office of the officer in charge of the unit that I was told that my husband was dead.
I was, however, not allowed to see his corpse. I was only able to see his corpse for the first time during his burial in the village when his remains were laid to rest. That was almost one month after his death. He was 37 years old.
When did you see him last and what did you discuss?
I saw my husband last, four days before his death. It was on February 19. He came home for the weekend to inform his children and I that he had got a new posting to work as a security officer in a bank. I never thought that it would be the last time we would see, talk and hold each other.
He also told his children that he would be visiting the next weekend to bring them foodstuff and money for the upkeep of the family, especially for their textbooks
He was just three days old in the bank before the robbery which claimed his life. He resumed at the bank on Monday, the bank robbery took place on Wednesday, and he died on Thursday before I could even arrive in Owerri.
Were you aware that he sacrificed his life to save that of others on the premises of the bank that day?
Yes, I am very aware. I was not surprised that he confronted them because he was a combatant, committed and patriotic cop. My only regret was that his death was untimely, leaving me to cater for our children alone. He was in Yobe State for a special mission during the upsurge of Boko Haram attacks in the North.
He was also on special missions in Kano and Plateau states and he fought gallantly. One thing about him was that he was committed to his job. He loved his job and derived joy in saving lives.
What did you do when you learnt of his demise?
It was one of his colleagues who called me on a Thursday morning to tell me that my husband was shot by armed robbers the previous day. I don’t know the person but he spoke to me in a manner that suggested that all was not well.
He didn’t tell me that my husband was dead. He only informed me that my husband was shot by armed robbers a day before that day.
It was when I arrived in Mopol 18 that I was told that my husband, whom I spoke with on the phone on Tuesday prior to that day, was dead. I couldn’t believe it. I told them to stop the joke but they insisted that he was dead.
It was as if my world had crumbled. Several thoughts came to my mind within a few minutes: “Where do I begin? How do I explain what happened to him to his children, especially our last child, Success, who was fond of him? Where do I go from here?”
What do you tell the children anytime they ask after their father?
I have eight children for him; seven boys and a girl, Success, who I earlier said is the last born. We have triplets; all boys, but sadly, one of them, Chukwuebuka slumped and died the day their father’s remains were to be interred. He slumped immediately he saw his dad’s corpse during his lying-in-state and died.
It was a double tragedy for my family that day. He was very close to his father.
Despite being just five years, he couldn’t bear the loss of his loving father. Most of my children know that their father is dead, only the young ones are yet to comprehend what happened.
I keep telling those ones anytime they ask after him that he is on a special assignment and would be back soon. But each time I lie to them, I would go into the room and weep profusely because when they ask for his whereabouts, I also recall the great moments we shared.
How have you been coping with the kids without their father?
It has been h*** for me since he died. The children dropped out of school because I could no longer pay their school fees. I don’t work, I am a house wife. His sudden death was an agonising loss to my family. To eat is now a problem. Most times, we don’t eat and when we eat, it is half food. Last night (Friday), we took groundnuts as dinner. It has been very difficult for us. We now live from hand to mouth. We always go to bed hungry without knowing where the next meal will come from.
Has the Nigeria Police Force reached out to you to support your family?
Not at all. They only came for his burial in the village on Friday, March 17, 2017. I am now left with my children alone.