|The victim, Prosper Onifade|
Thursday, May 12, 2016, started like any other day for Prosper Oyinfade, a 34-year-old native of Abeokuta, Ogun State, a professional barber and part-time bodyguard at social events and major night clubs within the Lagos metropolis. The young man worked tirelessly to support his small family - a wife and two sons. Waking up very early each morning in search of ‘bread’ for the entire household, the Abeokuta native barely enjoys maximum sleep as a result of his workaholic nature. The upkeep and survival of his family occupied a prime position on his mind.
Oyinfade had headed for the gym that fateful morning to refresh his muscles and keep fit ahead of a job the next day at an annual show in the Ikosi area of Ketu, a suburb within the metropolis. He remained at the gym with fellow ‘bouncers’ till late in the afternoon when he went home to relax before later heading for his salon to attend to customers and supervise his apprentice, Emmanuel, who had been there all alone.
This was only four days after he had resolved a protracted personal issue with his wife. The couple had been temporarily separated for some time after losing their accommodation owing to financial difficulties. The lady and their two children had been living with her mother at the Ibafo area of Ogun State for some time as a result while the 34-year-old managed with a friend at the Mile 12 area of Lagos. So, making peace with his wife and best friend of many years earlier that week left Oyinfade extremely happy.
Apart from dancing vigorously in front of his salon that Thursday evening, the Ogun native treated himself to a bottle of a popular alcoholic mixture. It was compensation for all the emotional pains he had passed through while the crisis lasted. But just when the ‘groove’ was garnering momentum, tragedy struck. Life has not been the same for the entire household.
“Everything happened like a movie,” Emmanuel, Oyinfade’s apprentice, recalled during a chat with a correspondent earlier in the week. “My boss arrived shop that evening looking unusually happy, there was no reason to suspect that danger was lurking around the corner. He sent me to buy food for him before later asking me to go buy him a bottle of a particular alcoholic mixture at a nearby shop. He was alone in front of the shop and was dancing happily as he took the drink.
“Later, some of his friends joined in the celebration and in the process, one of them challenged him to a bet. He dared him to finish 10 bottles of the drink and that if he did that, he was going to reward him. My boss took up the challenge and for the next hour, I was sent to buy a new bottle of that drink almost every five minutes. The other guys were also drinking but my boss was on a different level. Before we knew what was happening, he had taken over five bottles. I was afraid but could do nothing to stop him. It was until he attempted to shake a friend that we realised the damage the drink had done to him,” the young apprentice said.
The heavily-built 34-year-old crashed to the ground three different times as he made moves to shake a friend. He had completely lost control of himself and could hardly stand without support. He was subsequently carried by the people around and laid on the floor inside the compound housing his salon. The huge volume of alcohol in his system had totally immobilised and grounded him. Left in the open, on bare floor till the following day, his defences had been dealt a crushing blow. He was in a precarious situation.
“When I arrived home that night, my elder sister told me that somebody was sleeping on the floor outside and that she didn’t know who it was,” Bimbo, a neighbour to Oyinfade, told Saturday PUNCH.
“When I got close, I realised it was Prosper, he had vomited all over his face and body and was even inhaling the vomit. I ran out to get help and some of his friends came with me to wash his face with water and also change his sleeping position. One of them said that since he had vomited, he would feel better. I couldn’t sleep that night; I had to keep watch over him. At about 4:00am, I noticed that his breathing changed. We had to rush him to the hospital by dawn but he was rejected at the two places we took him to,” she said.
Confused and now under pressure, Oyinfade’s elder sibling, Taiwo, who had been called over to the area where he stayed and worked, together with few sympathisers hired a vehicle to take him to a government-owned hospital at the Ikorodu area of the city in a desperate attempt to save his life. At this point, his condition had degenerated so badly that only a miracle could keep him alive. Time was running out. The odds weren’t looking good.
“I was constantly communicating with Prosper’s elder brother since I didn’t accompany them to the hospital at Ikorodu,” Dotun, a colleague at the gym where the 34-year-old kept fit, told a correspondent.
“Initially he told me that the doctors were attending to him and that everything would soon be fine. After about 30 minutes, I called back again and he gave the same report. Some of us at the gym felt relieved at that point, believing that he was getting better. But 30 minutes later, the man called back to break the news of his death to us. It was a huge shock to many of us.
“The body, after being rejected at the hospital’s mortuary in Ikorodu, was brought back to a church opposite his shop at Mile 12. As at 1:00pm, the corpse was still lying on the floor within the premises. The brother was confused; he didn’t know what to do. We had to contribute about N11, 000 for him to take the body to Abeokuta.
“Prosper was an easy-going person who usually attended a special service in church every Thursday evening. I cannot tell why he didn’t go on this particular day and instead engaged in a drinking bet. I don’t know why he had to end his life like this,” Dotun said.
Though, full of life and bubbling with plans for the future, Oyinfade perhaps had an inkling of the calamity that was about to befall him. Apart from acting unusually in the days leading to his death, close associates told Saturday PUNCH that more than a few things about him took a different dimension during the period. He became a completely different person at the time.
“That Thursday, just before the incident happened, Prosper, I was told, played music loudly in his shop and danced like he had never done before,” Dotun revealed. “Even three days before that time, some guys at the gym jokingly told him that he should pray for death to be far away from him. They even sang a sorrowful song for him and poured sand on his body. Nobody expected that three days later, what appeared like a joke would come to pass.
“In fact, some days before his death, his dressing suddenly changed. He began to look extra-ordinarily good and different, as if he knew he might never have the chance to do so. We are indeed pained by his death,” he said.
According to findings by a correspondent, Oyinfade and his friend had staked N10, 000 each for the bizarre bet that would later end his life. The victim is known to have engaged in other forms of crazy bets and so saw the latest one as nothing compared to obstacles he had conquered in the past. A bottle of the herbal beverage he took which costs N350 each, contains 43 per cent alcohol volume.
A medical doctor, Lanre Adedeji, says consuming excessive alcohol at a time, especially five bottles containing 43 per cent concentration each, is capable of not only damaging the liver and causing nervous breakdown, but also leading to heart attack resulting in death eventually.
But the young father of two putting the economic benefits above the harm the drinks could do to him, paid the ultimate price for engaging in such risky gamble. His death leaves the Oyinfade family burying another child after the loss of two others in the past. The household is now left with Taiwo and Idowu.
“Our mother is heartbroken by the news. She hasn’t stopped crying ever since she was told. The wound created by the loss of two of my siblings in the past had yet to be fully healed when death now took Prosper away as well. The entire family is indeed devastated by the incident,” Taiwo, the victim’s eldest surviving sibling, told our correspondent amid tears.
But shocking and crazy as it sounds, engaging in bizarre forms of bets such as downing huge volumes of alcohol, have become a rising trend across the country in recent times. While some players of such dangerous gambles have managed to escape with minimal damage, for the majority, such attempts have often ended in death, throwing their families and friends into an endless season of mourning.