October has in recent times been a month of sorrow, pains, anguish, and also a month of bundle of joy; joy unspeakable for the Obioma Ogukwe family of Ufuma in Orumba North Local Government Area of Anmabra State.
On October 15, 2013, the first son of the family, Austin, was murdered at Ideal College, Ghana. On the night of October 2, 2015, preceding the day of his burial, Austin’s mother, Augustina, was delivered of triplets, all males.
At the burial ceremony of Austin at Ufuma, when the news of the birth of a triplets was broken, mourning turned to jubilation, dancing, celebration and revelry.
The Ogukwes, who felt that the world was collapsing on them, are now singing a new song of praise to God.
Mr. Obioma Ogukwe is the General Manger, Finance, The Sun Publishing Limited, while his wife, Augusta, is manager with AIICO insurance and also into fashion business.
Narrating her experience with Saturday Sun, Augustina said she was overwhelmed with joy.
According to her, Austin was her first child; a boy they loved so much, and was sent to Ideal College in Ghana, and in less than 12 days, he was murdered there.
This, she said, led them to different authorities, including the National Assembly and believing that something would come out of it, but for almost two years, even to retrieve the corpse was very hard because of the amount of money she said they were asked to pay, which they couldn’t afford.
“I cried myself to death; something was missing in my life; even Austin’s siblings couldn’t be comforted. I thought the word had come to an end.
Few weeks ago, God used the Managing Director of The Sun Ghana, Mr. Shola Osunkeye to facilitate the retrieval of my son’s corpse and he was laid to rest last Saturday. I couldn’t travel for the burial because I was so heavy, it was my husband who went for the burial in our village, Ufuma in Orumba North, Anambra State.”
Mrs Ogukwe said that her becoming pregnant was a miracle, noting that, when Austin was murdered, many pastors consoled and told her that God was going to replace in hundred folds what has been lost, which, she said, she doubted.
She said: “It was when I travelled to the United States with my husband that I discovered that I was pregnant and I couldn’t believe it.
I was supposed to deliver the babies in the US, but towards the due date, as I was about entering my car, a motorcycle hit me and broke my leg, so I couldn’t travel again.
“Penultimate Friday, I wasn’t feeling comfortable and it was a day before Austin’s burial, so my husband dropped me off at the hospital, before he travelled and in the midnight, I was delivered of triplets, all males. The first came, they said the second was coming, and the third came.
To God be the glory, we are happy and full of joy again.”
On why she didn’t know through scan that she was carrying triplets, she said she went for scan and it revealed twins, but they were not sure of the third one, “ but we were believing God’s will to be done in our lives.”
According to her, she had five children, and with the death of Austin, they remained four and now there are seven – four males and three females.
Austin, she said, was her first experience in life as a mother, noting that she married at a very tender age, and so, he was more or less like her mate and they were very close, and grew together.
Before his death, Austin, she said, was as tall as his dad, and they had already started calling him engineer, because he was already fixing many technical problems at home.
“I was becoming insane; I could neither sleep nor eat. I was seeing him every now and then and I thought that the world was collapsing on me because this was a boy we sent to school and even gave them instruction that he was just there to prepare for exams and not to be involved in other activities.
“They just called casually to tell us that our son was dead. It was a rude shock. Moreover, in a family of nine and about 40 grandchildren, we have not had such experience, he was the first to die.
“It was heavy on me that I asked God what my sins were that I should deserve that. Each time I sat with the other children, I felt something was missing. It even affected one of the children that he started acting strangely that we had to send him to a school where they were counselling and rehabilitating him to put Austin’s death behind him. It was really very difficult.”
She pointed that the failure of Nigerian authorities to act in the case of Austin led to such other tragedies to Nigerian students in foreign countries – Dubai, London, etc.
She noted that since Nigeria kept quite and Ghana got away with it, other countries followed suit.
When it happened, they met with many people but at the end of the day, she said it was all disappointments, and thought that God has left them and that it was all over.
“I was never really myself again, but today, the story is different, Augustina said.
Mrs. Ogukwe said this development has taught her a big lesson. The first is, never to give up, and secondly to realise that God is not man, you might be thinking in one direction but at the appointed time you don’t know what God has in store for you. Focus on God and in His time he would put a smile on your face.
“My kids were saying since Austin was no more, we needed three more. I would just dismiss them because they are kids, they don’t know anything.
I was asking God even if it were twins, but I wasn’t expecting triplets.”
Her message is for people to look up to God, the Author and Finisher of their faith; to believe and get closer to Him.
“Again, my husband was always there for me. When he came in from Ghana, he told me, ‘Mummy, stop crying, Austin would come back’. That was what also helped to keep me going. That statement was always ringing in my ears, that my husband said Austin would come back, he was not dead, and when he comes back, we would still name him Austin. That encouraging statement kept me going.
Assuming he wasn’t there to console me and give me that hope and made me believe that Austin would still come back, it would have been worse for me.”
Her husband had consoled her that another Austin was coming, and now it is triplets, would they be named, Austin 1, Austin 2, Austin 3? She answered: “Maybe, we share his names. He was also called Ebuka, and Chukweneme.”
Raising triplets is not easy, asked if they will solicit public support, Mrs Ogukwe said she had read stories of parents of triplets soliciting public support to raise the babies, and even some husbands running away when their wives gave birth to triplets.
These ones, she said are in the right place, and to the glory of God, we are capable of raising them.
“The babies arrived on the night breaking into the day Austin was to be interred, to announce that Austin was back.
Even in the village where the atmosphere was gloom, and people were mourning as Austin was to be interred, the announcement of the birth of triplets threw the mourning crowd into jubilation, dancing and celebration.
Augustina said for sure, she blasphemed God, and even at a time she didn’t want to go to church again because she questioned the reason for praising God when He was there and her son was murdered.
“Yes, I thought I was so closed to Him, and when this happened, I found it difficult to comprehend why He should allow someone to murder my son.
“But when I realised that without God, it is death, I started going closer again and asking for His forgiveness because He knew why such a thing happened in the first place.
“My last baby, the fifth, is close to nine years. So, I had stopped and wasn’t even ready for any child. We had closed everything about child bearing. Though we were not expecting another child, we left it to God that if it was His will to replace Austin, He should go ahead.
Even the fifth child that is getting to nine, I named her Angel, because when I was told that I was pregnant, I said it was not possible that it must be an Angel that came visiting. After her, I tried to close the chapter but God said it was not over.
Also speaking with her husband, Obioma, who couldn’t contain his joy, told Saturday Sun that he was very happy because he was very depressed when they lost Austin.
Highlighting on the death of Austin, he said, when they called to tell them that he was dead, “we enquired about the cause of death, the Ghanaian authority said it was a case of drowning. But, we asked why wounds all over his body and the photograph taken by the police showed that he was foaming in the mouth. Again, why he drowned and the body found on the shore just three hours after they said they were looking for him. I didn’t believe it was a case of drowning. I believe there was a foul play, but the Ghanaian police felt otherwise. I disputed the autopsy report, since that time, it became an issue until the Nigerian Embassy asked me to withdraw all the suits so that it would pave way for the Ghanaian authority to release the corpse.”
He expressed the family’s gratitude to Mr. Shola Osunkeye, MD, The Sun Ghana, the Nigerian Ambassador in Ghana and Femi Falana SAN, and also Hon Abike Dabiri, who also visited Ghana with the House Committee on Diaspora on this matter.
“We thank God that eventually we got the body of Austin and buried him on October 3. While we were mourning in the village, my wife announced to me that we have been blessed with three boys. My joy knew no bounds. Right from that moment, I stopped mourning, and in the village we were caught up with jubilation and I returned to Lagos to see the babies and they were hale and hearty with my wife. All of them are in good health.
“Very soon, they would return to our house and I’m making arrangement for people that can assist us in taking care of them. With the exigency of my work, it will be hard for me to have a leave of absence at this time.”
Mr. Ogukwe admonished people not to mourn as if they have no hope and should in everything give thanks to God because He knows why certain things happen.
“He took one and blessed us with three. It is only God that can do it and not man. We should look up to God if He has not finished with you, you should not be disappointed, because He would always have you to laugh last.”
Source: Sun News