The vulcaniser, Fatai Sulaimon, who allegedly committed suicide last Saturday at Moji Olarenwaju Close, off Olorunda Street, in the Ijaye-Ojokoro area of Lagos State won a N50,000 lotto popularly called Baba Ijebu a few days before the incident.
Some neighbours said Sulaimon, who they described as a regular lotto player, doubted that the deceased had spent the money before he took his own life.
They recalled that Sulaimon, a father of two, was seen holding a short twine a day before the incident and that nobody suspected that the deceased was planning something sinister since he was a vulcaniser who would naturally need the twine to start his vulcanising machine.
According to them, Sulaimon occasionally asked if the twine would perform the purpose for which he bought it.
Two of the neigbours, who would not want their names mentioned, said that they heard the deceased exchanging banters with some people the night before he hanged himself that he would surprise his wife and others the following day.
“People thought that Sulaimon was referring to how he was planning to spend the N50,000 lotto he won,” a neighbour said.
The son of Sulaimon’s landlord, Habeeb Oyewusi, who spoke on behalf of his father, confirmed that the deceased won N50,000 lotto. He said the deceased, who he described as tough and hardworking, also played lotto the night before the incident, but added that he would not know whether he won or not.
Sulaimon was said to have committed suicide for yet to be ascertained reasons. He was said to have woken up from bed and headed for the kitchen where he allegedly hanged himself.
Oyewusi said the deceased was not violent, but a caring and generous person, who did not discriminate.
He said, “He cared for his wife and three children, including his step-son. He treated all of them well.
“Nobody suspected anything; my father, the landlord, gave him a small space beside the house to build a makeshift shop to enable him to practise his trade. All that people could remember was that he went to bed early on Friday night.”
An undergraduate of the University of Lagos, Ojelade Ismail, who first discovered the deceased’s body where he hanged himself, corroborated Oyewusi’s claim.
Ismail said he discovered the stiff body of the deceased when he wanted to take some water in the kitchen at about 6.0am last Friday to perform his ablution.
He said, “I could not wait to find out who the deceased was when I saw the hanged object in the kitchen because he covered his face. I quickly went to wake other co-tenants who also came out to confirm my claim, but they too could not also identify the person.
“But it was after we went to knock at the door of the deceased’s room that his wife came out to confirm that the body was her husband. Sulaimon left the room in the night and informed her that he was going to the toilet. But the wife said she slept off immediately after her husband left the room.
“What we observed was that the deceased put off the kitchen light.”
But when our correspondent attempted to speak with the deceased’s wife, it was learnt that she had relocated to her husband’s place.
However, neighbours said there was nothing around the scene to indicate the reason for the suicide. He did not also leave any note behind. So, nobody could really pinpoint the reason behind his action.
Apart from his vulcanising business, it was learnt that he had two commercial motorcycles from which he earned more income.
The body of the deceased was, however, untied by traditional worshippers at about 9.30pm last Saturday and taken to Ado-Odo in Ogun State after they performed some rituals.
This was after the police had initially visited the scene in the morning.
Meanwhile, Saturday PUNCH learnt that the incident has caused confusion among tenants on Olorunda Street and Moji Olarenwaju Close as some of them are contemplating relocating.
This is because the two streets share boundary and also have record of tenants committing suicide.
Some of the panic-stricken tenants, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, expressed fear that there was more to the death because of the nature of the hanging. One of them particularly said that but for his rent which he paid early last month, he would have parked out by now.
He said, “This type of death is mysterious. Someone committed suicide on Olorunda Street a few years ago and another one died the same way in Moji Olanrewaju Close last Saturday; the two streets that share boundary in Itesiwaju Community Development Association.”
Another tenant, who simply gave his name as Olayeye Ojo, said he planned to pack from the street, but to his own house which he hoped to complete soonest.
Ojo also asked his fellow tenants to examine themselves and refrain from evil practices.
“If they have anything that troubles their mind, they should seek counselling, instead of attempting to take their own lives,” he said.
However, landlords in the area have allayed the fear of the tenants. They asked them to perish their thought of relocation because suicide happens everywhere.
According to them, suicide is a personal decision; it has nothing to do with a particular house or environment.
A 76-year-old Bola Ogundipe, in whose house a tenant allegedly committed suicide a few years back, said she built her house with her sweat, ditto other landlords in the community.
“All the houses in this community are products of the landlords’ hard work. So, the tenants need not fear anything,” she said.
Ogundipe, who said she sold food for nearly 20 years before she stopped the business not long ago because of old age, recalled that she did not engage in any diabolical means to seek undeserved patronage.
She said, “I was selling firewood before I ventured into food business. I sold food for nearly 20 years before I stopped less than two years ago because of old age. I have not given my tenants trouble, including those who have not paid their rents.
“I only depend on the allowances my children give me. All my tenants are not trouble makers and I too don’t make trouble with them, but I flay them when I discover that they don’t sweep the compound.”
Ogundipe also recalled that Saheed, the welder who allegedly hanged himself in her house not long ago, was not a trouble maker.
“Nobody made trouble with Saheed and he did not make trouble with anybody in the house until his death, but we would not know if he had issues with anyone outside the house,” she said.
Also, another landlord, Mr. Friday Idehia, dismissed the tenants’ fear.
He claimed that suicide was not a new thing, while citing Judas Iscariot as the first person to have hanged himself over betrayal.
Idehia, however, urged the tenants to always share their feelings with trusted persons anytime they are worried.
He said, “Tenants should not fear anything; they only need to refrain from evil. I have spent 25 years in this community and I can say categorically that there is nothing happening here that has not happened anywhere else.
“I have no regret to have owned a property in this community. The only problems we are facing are bad road and erosion; we need government’s intervention in those two areas.”
Idehia equally asked his fellow landlords to hold regular meetings with their tenants to gauge their feelings.
He said, “I hold meetings with my tenants on every last Saturday of the month; I ask them about issues concerning their welfare and I also ask them to speak out on any issue that is bothering their minds. I suggest that every landlord should be doing this.
“Tenants should also respect their landlords’ opinions; they should not behave as if they know better than the landlords.”
The Chairman, Itesiwaju Community Development Association, Mr. Ambrose Umosor, dismissed the rumoured existence of a suicide-causing demon in the community, but said the latest incident was an eye opener and wake-up call that everybody should move closer to God.
He said while suicide is a complex and personal decision and has no connection with the house or the environment people live, he asked his fellow landlords to always attend the monthly CDA meeting, which he alleged they refused to take seriously.
Umosor also urged everybody in the community, including tenants and shop owners, to always strive to do good.
He equally asked landlords and their tenants to respect one another’s opinion. Omosor said, “Respect is reciprocal; let landlords respect tenants and let the tenants respect their landlords because respect is earned, it is not given.”