ABANIWONDA: CORPSE NOT FOUND YET
Frantic efforts were made yesterday by the police and family members in search of the corpse of former senatorial candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for Lagos East, Al-Mustain Alade Abaniwonda in the Lagos lagoon.
Abaniwonda fell into the sea at about 3:00p.m on Monday when he was pressed along the Marina and tried to ease himself in the public toilet by the lagoon.
Family members and associates are in deep shock over the tragedy, while the Lagos chapter of the PDP yesterday reacted, saying Abaniwonda did not commit suicide.
The party in a press statement by its state Publicity Secretary, Mr. Taofik Gani said the suicide theory insinuated in the report by a national daily on Tuesday was false.
'PDP lost Al-Mustain Alade Abaniwonda yesterday at about 3 pm (Monday). He was Lagos East senatorial candidate in the last election. Meanwhile, he was pressed along Marina and tried the toilet. The toilet was locked.
So, he tried the sea bank behind the Marine Police Station, Marina. Unfortunately, he slipped and not even the policemen present could rescue him. He was very wealthy and full of life; not frustrated,' Gani stated.
Meanwhile Abaniwonda would have been alive if men and officers of the Nigerian police had acted promptly on call for his rescue.
The family of the late politician have alleged that the police demanded the sum of N200, 000 gratification as a condition for his rescue.
But the police authorities have denied the allegation.
A family member said they had contacted the Marine Police but after they demanded the N200,000, they (family members) contacted the Police Headquarters, Louis Edet House, Abuja, which ordered police in Lagos to immediately commence the search for the politician.
'Our brother's life would have been saved, if the Marine Police in Lagos had acted fast,' the family member, who pleaded anonymity told Daily Sun.
While denying the allegation, the police said they were only trying to fuel their boat before embarking on the rescue mission.
Meanwhile, the spot where Abaniwonda drowned has literally become a Mecca, as relatives, politicians and sympathizers have laid siege to the area, hoping for a miracle to happen.
Also, the family has engaged the services of local divers from Epe to search for the body.
As at the time of filing this report, the local divers were still busy, combing the lagoon.
The 56-year-old politician was a ministerial nominee, but was not invited by the Senate for screening.
A die-hard supporter of Chief Olabode George, Abaniwonda had lost the senatorial bid in the last election, to Senator Gbenga Ashafa.
The Epe-born politician was said to have been coming from a bank on the Lagos Island, with his driver when he told him he was pressed and needed to make use of the public toilet.
He alighted from his car at Leventis bus -stop, and strolled to the direction of the Lagoon. Few minutes after, he (driver) heard people shouting for help, and rushed there only to discover that the shout was about his drowning master.
Meanwhile, the Lagos State Police Command has beefed up security at the Leventis end of the Lagoon.
On March 24, at about 4.19pm, the former senatorial candidate of Lagos East, had posted a message on his campaign wall on the social interactive site, Facebook, seeking the support of Lagosians for his political ambition.
He had said, 'Please follow me on twitter @wonda4senate. Let's make this happen, thanks.'
It is nearly four months since Abaniwonda posted that request. Although he lost the election to the ACN candidate, it never occurred to his teeming supporters during the election that their candidate would be gone so soon.
Since the news broke out, sympathizers have continued to express their shock on the Facebook wall of the deceased.
Some sympathisers, who found it hard to believe the story expressed their grief and shock over the sad incident. The social network, which was opened to facilitate his senatorial ambition, had no fewer than 94 admirers.
One of the sympathisers, Korreharmony Oyefemi, expressed disbelief at the incident, describing it as a great loss.
'How true the story is? May your soul rest in perfect peace…great loss,' Oyefemi posted.
Also, Palmer Ogheneyole sounded more broken-hearted in his post, 'Too bad, what a sad story. Rest in peace, sir.'
Abraham Kayode Awe was short of words as he posted a three-worded comment, 'What a loss', while Areh Oladiplenty Imam Shafiyi, prayed for the repose of his soul.
On his part, Fernmi Hernandeznn poured out his grief in prayers, 'Gud 9yt (Good night) Abaniwonda, may your soul rest in perfect peace.'