Tears flowed ceaselessly on Wednesday at Mbahive-Mbagba in the Ushongo Local Government Area of Benue State as the remains of a family of four comprising a woman and her three children were committed to mother earth.
The sight of the coffins at the burial site melted stony hearts. Men and women conversed in emotional tone, and relatives of the Jebes, who came to pay their last respects to the dead, cried themselves hoarse.
It was a sad moment for the people of Mbagba village, particularly the husband, Tavershima, and the family members of the deceased.
Mrs Comfort Jebe alongside her three children; David (10), Beauty (7) and Favour (2) were returning from a holiday in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, when they were involved in a ghastly accident along the Benue Links on the Abuja-Makurdi highway on September 15.
About 13 people including the Jebes died in the crash while eight others sustained varying degrees of injuries.
Two months before the tragic incident, precisely on July 25, Comfort wrote a birthday message on her Facebook wall thus; “On this day, the sweetest being on earth was born, happy birthday to me.
“I wish myself peace, smiles and excellent mood. Let all the bad things go aside. May I overcome the hardship of life with ease, let every day of this new year of life be filled with joy and happiness, let there be good hope and infinite love.”
Sadly, death sneaked in, in a cruel manner, killing not only her but also her three young children.
The bereaved husband, believed to be in his 40s, said his wife and kids were returning from a holiday in Abuja, when a trailer ran over a bus conveying them at Nasarawa Eggom in Nasarawa State.
He added that he was told about the incident and when he got to the scene, Beauty was still alive. Tavershima noted that when his friend alerted him to the incident, one Etim drove him to Laafia where he took the three corpses to Makurdi and held on to Beauty, who was then writhing in severe pains.
Tavershima added, “We arrived Makurdi around midnight and I drove to the Benue State University Teaching Hospital. There was no help because of strike and we had to move to the Federal Medical Centre, yet we could not get treatment.
“This made me take Beauty to a private hospital. We weren’t able to get medical help there and Beauty gave up. Before she died, she screamed her mum’s, siblings and my name. She died in my hands.”
He told the sympathizers at the burial that he had accepted the incident in good faith. Taveshima said, “I have accepted what has happened and am not blaming anybody for this”.
The pastor in charge of NKST Gbe-Mbagba in Ushongo council area, Rev Caleb Nyiyongo, who conducted the funeral service, called on the World Health Organisation to immortalize the deceased members of the Jebes.
Nyiyongo said family members of the deceased would be strengthened if the dead were immortalized.
The cleric urged family members of the dead not to query God over the incident, saying Christians should know that living and dying were in God’s control.
He advised Christians to emulate Christ, adding that because Jesus submitted himself to God’s authority, though he died, he later rose on the third day.
According to him, Christians should know that the death of the four is of God and not of man.
He said if the people understood life’s mystery, it would help them to correct and discard things denying them of God’s glory.
The cleric stated, “It is God alone that can console the family for we don’t have much to do that will console them. The Jebes are for God and also Comfort’s parents. Therefore, only God will console them.
“Jesus was for God and He died for God and because of that, we have life. It is, therefore, true that those who died in God will return to life as Jesus did because He lives. May God enable those living to realise this and give God thanks in all things.”
The state Governor, Samuel Ortom, who earlier consoled the Jebes over the loss, also paid tributes to the deceased during the burial.
Ortom, represented by the Commissioner for Works and Housing, Alex Shaapera, said he was heartbroken over the incident, commiserating with the family in its moment of grief.
In his speech, Officer in Charge of the World Health Organisation, Dr Clement Peter, noted that the incident saddened the organisation.
Represented by Andrew Kimani, Peter said “We are deeply sad because of this incident; we are together in it. The word of God is peace and in anything He says, there is peace.
“Our prayer for you (the Jebes) is that God will give you peace. We know what the people recorded in the Bible suffered and in the end, God repaid them.
“On a personal note, it is a sad day for me because Favour (Dooshima) was named after my mother. I am not a Nigerian; I am from Kenya. Our prayer for you is that God will give you peace.”
A royal father of Mbagba community, Tyoor Gateh, who lamented the death of the four, prayed that such calamity should never be repeated in the land.
He also prayed to God to console the husband, urging him to have faith in God.
The monarch pleaded with family members and friends to always remember the Jebes in their prayers.
He added, “How old was Abraham when God gave him a son? Tavershima is still a young man. I pray that in the coming days, God will give him a wife and children. May God console the family.
“As family and friends, we should continue to pray for the bereaved, encourage and show them love, particularly at this time of mourning. Even though we mourn today, tomorrow we will certainly have cause to laugh.”