Millionaire in February, dead in June


After collecting late father’s gratuity, son squanders it on betting then commits suicide. Mustafa Jamal reports…

Among thousands and thousands of Nigerian youth addicted to the various sport betting games, stories abound of sudden jackpot winners whose lives have been transformed either positively or negatively.

Mostly young males from 18 up, you can’t miss them in the betting and game centres all around, at corner streets anywhere in big cities or remote communities, leaning on counters or sitting on benches, looking from screen to their tickets crosschecking possible winning entries. For many of them, it is the shortest route to quick money – bar crime – under the harsh economic conditions they have had to live in.

The unwritten rule in gambling of any kind is that out of a hundred bettors, thirty are likely to win from little to moderate sums. And out of that thirty, a few might likely win jackpots. Once in a long while, some of the youngsters make quite a pile, something totally unexpected which, among friends, is spread around quickly as they enthusiastically share musical videos of their favourite artistes.

From that moment, the winner becomes something of a celeb, however briefly. But that phase soon passes. Those who made it among them and moved on with their lives are soon forgotten, a one-off thing people dismiss as one of those chance occurrences in life. But it is the story of those who made it and then tumbled down to their previously penurious state that linger longer in people’s memory: a tale, for instance, of some chap who came to sudden wealth and then lost most or all of it, or even worse.

There was the case of a young man in Ajah, many years ago, who won N17m in a game he played. He was, according to reports at the time, simply overwhelmed, of becoming a millionaire overnight. After it was confirmed he had won, the man and his friends began a spontaneous jubilatory procession right from the gaming centre.

As befitting his new status, the chap was lifted shoulder high and paraded up and down the streets, as if something miraculous had happened. Indeed, it was a miracle for the youngsters whose expectation never exceeded a few thousands they were used to instead of the millions now in their friend’s possession.

But the young millionaire did not even live long enough to enjoy his money. What went wrong? As it was told then, a sturdy fellow readily volunteered to shoulder their man as the procession went from street to street, the parvenu sitting astride him like a son or daughter would on a father’s shoulder.

Like the proverbial antelope that over celebrated and so got worn out before the main dance, the new millionaire was simply exhausted by his co-celebrants. Juggled and shaken vigorously by the man on whose shoulders he sat, which became increasingly more vigorous as more people queued up behind them, his vertebrae broke without any one of them knowing what had happened. But after sometime, someone noticed the man had become immobile. Brought down from his perch, his friends discovered, to their alarm, the young millionaire had died within minutes of becoming one. It was the end of the party.

To that might be added the recent case of one Segun who died shortly after he became a millionaire. As of last February, Segun, a twenties secondary school leaver became the youngest millionaire in his neighbourhood somewhere in Agbado area of Ogun state. He neither planned nor worked for it. Neither did he become an unexpected winner in a sports betting lottery that young men like him across the country have avidly taken up instead of leaning on walls forever bemoaning their fate. It came by virtue of his rank in a family he was born into, the first child and son among four siblings.

By that hierarchical order, Segun was suitably placed/ positioned to be his father’s next of kin. And so did the old man declare in his pension and gratuity forms which he filled as a driver with a company in Lagos. Segun’s father died in 2018 after retirement.

Of course, the deceased driver had to be paid his entitlements, however much or little it amounted to. As next of kin, Segun represented the family, comprising a widowed mother and four siblings. The cumbersome processes alone of receiving such benefits isn’t a snap-of-the-finger thing, as most people can tell you. Sometimes, it takes months or even years for the deceased relatives or family to finally access such funds. By that standard, you could say Segun was luckier than some.

Just this February, the office where his father worked informed Segun he could, on request, access his father’s gratuity, which had been credited to his own account, which the son duly acknowledged.

By late June, on Sunday 28 precisely, the young man was dead. He was not trailed and mugged by envious neighbours. In fact, no neighbor heard of the gratuity until after his death on that Sunday evening. He had taken his own life by guzzling down the content of a plastic container believed to be Sniper insecticide. What was his reason for taking his own life?

Various accounts have been making the rounds since his demise but the most plausible seems to be the one told by his younger brother, Femi, to inquisitive neighbours concerning his sibling’s suicide.

Femi himself dos not live with them in Agbado, he works somewhere but visits now and then. On Sunday evening, his sister called him to quickly come around, that something terrible had happened to Brother Segun. On arrival, he found Segun stretched out foaming from the mouth and nose and there was pungent smell of the insecticide he had ingested.

As the grieving sibling narrated it, “Segun collected our father’s gratuity amounting to N1, 440, 000 in February, kept the information and money to himself without letting any of us know – including maami.”

After that, the deceased proceeded to ‘invest’ the entire sum in a sporting game. (It must be said however that before this time, the family – including his mother – knew some money was due to the head of the family from the place he worked. Anyone can imagine the febrile anticipation of the whole family, which the mother, as reports now have it, planned to complete her husband’s house with so she can relocate from their cramped single room in a face-me-face-you building where they currently live.)

How did they discover that Segun had killed himself?

According to the younger sib, a friend of Segun – apparently one he confided in about his sudden wealth and the source – came around that Sunday evening to meet his friend’s mother. Segun was at home. The friend then told Segun’s mother how her son collected his father’s gratuity and squandered much of it on betting, a disclosure the hapless woman did not take lightly with her son. Confronted over the matter, Segun was overcome with shame. Not long after, he left them, went inside the house, took some money from her sister’s bag, bought the Sniper and went to a vacant room in the house which he locked from inside and then…

Noticing his absence, mother and other family members and co-tenants search for him everywhere but couldn’t find him. As Femi recalled, someone heard some coughing fits from the unused room. They opened it and there was Segun foaming from the mouth and nose. By the time they rushed him to a nearby hospital, it was too late. He died on arrival.

From that day till now as we go to press, the entire community has talked about nothing else but the surprise suicide of a young man most of them remember as “very quiet and respectful,” as one senior citizen and landlord who lives a glancing distance from Femi’s household, put it.

Quiet and respectful he may be to others, some of his fellow youngsters around the area see his suicide as an act of wickedness, especially to his mother who had plans to use the money to complete her late husband’s house. The intention was for the entire family to relocate from the single room they all occupied to the new house. But Segun’s suicide has a tragic stop to all that.






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