AFTER GOD, IT WAS MUM
There was uneasy calm at the home of Newcastle striker, Obafemi Martins, as sympathizers trooped in to pay their last respect to his mother, who passed on last Thursday at the age of 62.
Overwhelmed by compassion, the former Inter Milan player could not hold back tears as he cried all through when the remains of his mother was being buried at the Victoria Garden Cemetery (VGC) in Lekki, Lagos, in the presence of all her children.
Martins described his mother as a precious jewel, whose death came too sudden. He said he never expected that his mother would die now because she was sound and hearty.
Alhaja Monsurat Martins died in tragic circumstances in the early hours of Thursday morning while fleeing her Lagos apartment after a petrol tanker burst into flames near the popular Orile Iganmu Bus Stop where her home is situated.
It was reported that the 62-year-old woman died as a result of shock that was caused by the burnt petrol tanker.
Obafemi was, understandably said to be deeply hit by the news, as he was known to be closely attached to his mother.
"I am in shock," Obafemi began. "I never expected she would die now. A day to her demise, we spoke at length on her dreams and aspirations for the people living around our house at Orile Iganmu. My mother had planned to make her neighbours comfortable, but you can see what death has caused.
"I would miss her dearly because she was everything to me.
She was my pillar and source of inspiration. Her presence brought a lot of goodwill to me. In fact, for me, after God, it was my mum.
"If I would come back to this divide again, I would make it through her. She was my life. I don't know what I would have become without my mother," he said.
Martins said he did not believe the story when her sisters called him from Lagos.
"I never believed the story until I arrived Lagos. When my sisters called and broke the news to me, I did not believe them. But when they insisted, I made up my mind to come home to see things for myself."
Condolence messages had continued to troop in like torrents both from home and abroad since Alhaja's demise on Thursday morning. Apart from his friends in Europe, football pundits across the country had continued to pay their last respect to Martins' mother even before she was lowered to the grave last Friday.
Neighbours described the late Monsurat Martins as a good and caring mother, who used her resources to make people happy, adding that they were happy that she encouraged Obafemi to become useful to the nation with the round leather game.
Meanwhile, Martins former club, Inter Milan, had sent their condolence to their former striker, asking him to bear the irreparable loss with fortitude.
A statement on Inter's official website reads: "FC Internazionale and all our supporters extend our deepest condolences to 'Oba' and his family."
The 23-year-old scored 28 goals in 88 appearances for the Nerazzurri between 2002 and 2006, before his €15million move to Newcastle.
Martins has been given a compassionate leave by Newcastle and he has been left out of Kevin Keegan's squad for the friendly at Doncaster. He is also likely to miss the Mallorca Summer Cup matches against Hertha Berlin and Real Mallorca.
A Newcastle spokesman said: "Oba has flown back to Nigeria on compassionate grounds to be with his family at what is a very sad time for them. "Everyone at the club extends their greatest sympathies to Oba and his relatives."