It was learnt that 11 people, including Okwuikpo’s parents, brothers and sisters and her sister-in-law, had an accident shortly after they left Port-Harcourt for the convocation in Ilisan-Remo.
“Eight of the occupants of the vehicle, including Okwuikpo’s parents, her brother and his wife and their eight-month-old baby, died on the spot,” a source close to the family told journalists.
A man, who claimed to be Okwuikpo’s relations, said he could not talk to the press. The lady herself was not stable to speak with journalist. In the course of the ceremony, before it was the turn of the graduating students of her department to mount the rostrum to shake hands with the institution’s principal officers, led by the Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Kayode Makinde, Okwuikpo had controlled her emotions. But she soon started crying and collapsed on the podium as soon as she walked towards Makinde, Her friend and course mate, Rabiu Sakirat, who was right beside her, could only help in wiping off her tears.
Those who did not know what the matter was were confused.
“Why is she weeping?” a woman asked rhetorically.
“Perhaps, she remembered her relation who might have been part of those who died in the ill-fated Dana crash a year ago,” another man, who had come to celebrate with his niece, said.
But silence fell upon the hitherto cheerful crowd when it was learnt that the grieving lady had lost her parents two days to her convocation. The institution’s Sports Complex, venue of the convocation, suddenly became a temporary hall of mourning. Parents, students and well wishers shared in the lady’s low moment, with some putting their hands on their heads while others just sighed.
Like a pastor, Makinde rose to the occasion, held Okuikpo’s hands and consoled her and prayed for her.