An 83-year-old man, Sule Yusuf, says he has been sleeping under the Oshodi Bridge in Lagos State since 1999 after losing contact with his family. Yusuf, who hails from Igboora, Oyo State, and claimed to have retired from the Nigerian Army, told PUNCH Metro that after he retired, he lost contact with his wife and children, but decided to stay put in Lagos.
Punch correspondent gathered that the octogenarian had been spared during constant raids of the area by policemen after he explained to them that he was a retired soldier and his family members had allegedly deserted him. It was learnt that Yusuf, who once worked as a security man at the Mosafejo Motor Park, was relieved of his duty a few years ago because of old age.
Our correspondent gathered that the 83-year-old, after he reportedly retired from the army in 1979, had moved to the Makoko, Yaba area of Lagos, until his rent expired and he was asked to vacate his apartment. It was learnt that Yusuf had been staying in the Mosafejo Motor Park during the day, and had been sleeping under the Oshodi Bridge.
When our correspondent spoke with Yusuf on Thursday, the retiree said he last saw his wife, Beatrice, and his two children – Morili and Jimoh – around 1999 before they relocated to Owerri, Imo State, where his wife hailed from. Yusuf said he wanted to be reunited with his family members and needed some financial help to live a better life.
He said, “I joined the Nigerian Army in 1967. When I left in 1979, my last place of service was at the cantonment in Adekunle Fajuyi, Ibadan, Oyo State. I met my wife when I served in Owerri, Imo State, and we had the two kids.
“She returned with the children to her hometown in Owerri in 1999. I was in Makoko, Yaba, till I packed out when I could not pay the rent. So, I moved to Oshodi. I was collecting my pensions from the army until I lost my ID card in the park.
“I retired from the army as a staff sergeant. I was usually given N12,000 monthly as pension. I used to sell herbs in the motor park area. Selling herbs was my father’s handiwork. So, I returned to it after misplacing my ID card.
“Since I got to Oshodi, I have not had anyone personally taking care of me except God. When I stopped selling herbs, the union executives assisted me by making me a security man in the park. “But since that 1999, I have been sleeping under the bridge. I have been sleeping there for about 17 years. I need to see my family again. I need to be helped out of this situation.
“When the taskforce policemen raided the Oshodi area, they saw me, and I approached one of their commanders and explained my situation to him. He said his men should leave me alone. I do not have money to rent any house again. I want the government to help me. I do not have any sickness. I am not taking any injection. I only need help,” he added.
The Assistant Secretary of the Mosafejo Motor Park, Hamzat Sanusi, said the octogenarian was allowed to stay in the park because they saw the military ID card on him before he misplaced it. Sanusi added that it was the union which had been bearing the burden of Yusuf’s survival. He said, “He used to have a military ID card. We know him very well. But since he lost that card, he had not been given any entitlement. He claimed to have worked as a military officer.
“Sometimes, he drinks and smokes because of lack of family care. Since he had served the government, we think the government should rise to his plight.”