Residents of Orepeju Close in the Akowonjo area of Lagos are in mourning following the death of a seven-year-old boy, Godwin Samuel, who fell into an abandoned well.
When our correspondent visited the area on Sunday, neighbours were seen gathered in groups and discussing the incident in hushed tones as the mother of the deceased was too distraught to talk.
it was gathered that Godwin left his parents’ residence on Saturday to play on the street.
While playing, he reportedly fell into the well at 6 Orepeju Close, off Olasehinde Crescent, Akowonjo, Lagos.
It was learnt that at the time of the incident, around 5pm, the victim’s mother and stepfather were not at home.
The stepfather, Isaac Okon, said by the time the boy was recovered from the well by officials of the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency, he had already drowned.
He said, “His mother and I were not around when the incident happened; I went to church and his mother went to the market to get the foodstuffs she needed to make dinner.
“I was still in the church when someone called to inform me that my boy had fallen into a well. As soon as the boy was recovered from the well, we rushed him to a hospital but it was too late.
“The well had been left unattended to by the house owner; the mouth of the well was covered with cement sacks. And I learnt that the boy innocently stepped on the sacks and slipped into the well while playing with other kids.
“I know there is nothing that happens without God knowing about it. I am just a man trying to meet the needs of his family. I cannot afford to make a case against the owner of the house, but I know God will fight for me.”
The deceased’s stepsister, Elizabeth Okon, said Godwin was a special kid, adding that the incident was an avoidable one if the landlords in the area had done the right thing.
She said, “Godwin was a Down syndrome pupil and was only trying to live like every other kid. The landlady is at fault for leaving the well unattended to and it seems to me like it was intentional, because a concrete slab had been constructed for the well but it was not fixed.
“The landlords in the area, who decided to turn a blind eye instead of reporting the situation of the house, are also at fault. My stepbrother’s death was an avoidable one if everyone had done the right thing.”
A neighbour, who identified herself simply as Mrs Ifekoya, asked that the owner of the house be summoned and questioned by the appropriate authorities to answer for her negligence.
She stated, “I learnt that the house owner had issued a notice to quit to all the tenants living in the house but some are still living there. The well was originally erected high but it was brought down low in August 2018. A concrete slab was made to cover the well but it was not fixed. It was after the incident that the slab was placed on the well.
“The makeshift covering that was initially on it was just like a trap, because anybody could have fallen into it.
“The owner of the house should be summoned and questioned by the appropriate authorities, because the well is on the road; if a drainage channel is to be created, it will pass through where the well is and children also play around there,” she said.
The General Manager, LASEMA, Adesina Tiamiyu, said the building had been sealed off to avoid future occurrences.
He stated, “We got a distress call about a boy that fell into a well around 6.38pm on Saturday. On getting to the scene, we found a boy of about seven years. We were told that he left his house and went to play on the street. Unfortunately, we learnt that he fell into a partially covered well and he was recovered dead. The Lagos State Fire Service and the LASEMA Response Unit were also on ground.
“Further investigation revealed that the building was under construction and the well was dangerously exposed. Beside the well is a septic tank, which is also partially covered. The building has been sealed off to avoid future occurrences. We sealed off the building because we discovered that the well was dangerously exposed. And we expect that other agencies like the police will carry out further investigations.”
The general manager advised parents and guardians to keep watchful eyes on their wards and also urged Community Development Associations to report suspected buildings or abandoned projects in their neighbourhood to avoid disasters.
The state Police Public Relations Officer, CSP Chike Oti, however, said investigation was ongoing to ascertain if it was a case of negligence on the part of the owner of the house.
He said, “A case of sudden and unnatural death was reported at the Shasha Police Station. The preliminary investigation so far revealed that the boy mounted the well and the cover gave in. By the time the child was recovered, he had already drowned.
“However, we are investigating to ascertain if there was any form of negligence on the part of the well owner; we are trying to establish if the owner of the well, by act of omission or commission, failed to secure the it properly, making it easy for the child to fall into it. If we establish any act of negligence against the well owner, we will take appropriate steps and charge her for negligence.”