Photo credit: The PUNCH
In this interview, Dennis Mnenger Ityavgyer tells The PUNCH how his brother, his wife, and their three children died same day.
Dennis Mnenger Ityavgyer is an elder brother of Moses Tanongo, the late lecturer of the University of Mker, Benue and PhD student at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, who died alongside his wife and three children in an auto accident on Saturday, October 10, 2020, while travelling to visit his brother who had just recovered from an ailment. Ityavgyer speaks to JOHN CHARLES about his late brother and the tragedy
Your brother, Moses Tanongo, was a lecturer at the University of Mkar, Benue until his death. He died alongside his wife and three children on October 10. What do you know about the sad incident?
Tanongo, his wife, children and friend, Leva, were travelling to see one of our brothers, who is a reverend father in Adikpo (headquarters of Kwande Local Government Area) when the accident occurred at Gbatse.
The driver of a truck coming from Calabar in Cross River State refused to stop at a police checkpoint so he overtook some vehicles in front of him and went against traffic. Meanwhile, my brother, his family and friend were in the vehicle coming from the opposite direction. The truck collided head-on with their car.
How many people were in the car?
They were seven in number: my brother, Tanongo; his wife; three children; his colleague at the University of Mkar and one other man who was a teacher in a secondary school in our village. His wife was about 33 years old and the children were 11, seven and four years old.
Tanongo had been going there to visit our brother who is a reverend father and had been sick. So, he was going there to visit him alongside his family members. His friend, Leva, was also going with him to visit the reverend father.
Whose vehicle were they in?
Leva was the owner of the car and was the one driving.
Did your brother have any children not in the accident?
No, he lost all the members of his family in the accident. But in the extended family, his brothers and sisters are still alive but our parents are dead.
What did your brother teach in the university?
He taught in the Mass Communication department of the University of Mkar alongside his friend, Joshua Leva.
What kind of person was your brother?
He was born about 56 years ago and had his primary and secondary education outside the village but went to Bayero University, Kano where he had his first and second degrees. Before his death, he was a PhD student at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. He was a very hard-working person. He was easygoing and very brilliant. He was always the best in his class in those days; he was very smart.
What inspired him to become a lecturer?
I cannot say for certain but while we were growing up, he talked too much so we used to always call him a talkative. He studied Theatre Arts and you know that one of the courses in that department has to do with communication skills, so I think that ability to communicate very well made him to become a lecturer.
How did you find out about the incident?
His ex-wife who lives in Kano was contacted by the police. I think when they went through the contact list on his mobile phone, they saw her number. She was the one who called to tell us about the accident.
What was the family’s reaction to the tragedy that took him and all his family members?
How can one describe the loss of loved ones, particularly, a whole family going at once? It is very disheartening and devastating to the family but since there is nothing we can do to bring them back, we have accepted what happened. But he and his family are sorely missed him. He was a good man to us, his extended family members.
For instance, during the lockdown occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic, he was the one providing for his extended family members and assisting us. If the family could turn back the hands of time, we would have done everything to bring them back. But sadly, there is nothing we can do.
Has the government reached out to your family?
Yes, the governor (Samuel Ortom) sent the Secretary to the State Government, Tony Ijohor (SAN), to console the family and we in return sent a letter of appreciation to the governor.
Have you heard from the family of the other lecturer, Joshua Leva, who was killed?
Yes, we are in contact with his wife.
What is the update on the driver of the truck responsible for the accident?
The report is already with the police and the truck owner has been to the police station. We met at the police station recently. The family made a proposal to the truck owner regarding the burial and the car that was damaged but he said he wouldn’t be able to accept our proposal for the burial. He pleaded with the family to consider that things are hard but promised to look into the car issue later.
Are you planning to take a legal action against the company, their driver and the owner of the truck?
The family has agreed that there is no need to go to court on the condition he accepts the proposal we gave to him.
Source: The PUNCH