Silifat is wedded to Abdulkadir Jimoh in Kwara state Nigeria, who runs a barbing salon but is purportedly neglectful of his paternal duties, leaving Silifat responsible for their three children.

Kwara state
Kwara state

Despite reported mistreatment by her husband, Silifat’s family compelled her to stay for the sake of their children.

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Adding to the alleged irresponsibility, Abdulkadir married a second wife, who recently gave birth. He borrowed his elder brother’s car for the newborn’s naming ceremony, but a week later, the children mistakenly locked themselves inside the car and tragically suffocated on a hot afternoon.

Silifat, who operates a shop in Oke Andi, was away when the incident occurred. Unaware of the impending calamity, she left to buy noodles for her children, who had expressed a preference for it over rice the next day.

Upon returning, she discovered the devastating outcome. The grieving mother was taken to her family house in Taiwo Isale for recovery after being issued a quit notice by her landlady.

Touched by the tragedy, the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Kayode Egbetokun, ordered an investigation into the incident, as confirmed by Kwara State Police Commissioner, Mr. Victor Olaiya, during his visit to Silifat.

Silifat, aged 37, expressed her grief, recounting the loss of her three children, Maryam (10), Nudrah (8), and Mohammed (2). She detailed the challenges in her 11-year marriage, including her husband’s additional marriage, his changing behavior, and the recent birth of his second child with the new wife. Despite facing maltreatment, Silifat endured the marriage for the sake of her children.

The tragic incident unfolded when Abdulkadir failed to return the borrowed car promptly, leading to the accidental suffocation of the three children who sought refuge inside it.

Upon returning home, I noticed that the children had scattered the entire room, and the door was open. Their shoes were left behind, making me believe they couldn’t have gone far, possibly just within the premises.

I called out for them but received no response, initially thinking they might be playing hide and seek. The landlady was at work, and the neighboring flat was occupied by an elderly couple whom my children rarely visited.

Unable to find them, I checked everywhere, including the well, but in vain. Desperate, I took a bike to the junction and informed others about my missing children. Upon my return, I knocked on the neighboring flat’s door, and the woman mentioned hearing cries about ten minutes earlier during a sibling dispute.

A sudden intuition led me to check inside the vehicle, where I found them lying. I managed to open one door, but the others remained shut. Their lifeless posture terrified me, and my calls went unanswered.

I sought help from the woman’s husband, who forced the other doors open and pulled out Mohammed, injuring his hand in the process. Despite efforts to revive them with water, they remained unresponsive.

My husband and I hadn’t been communicating, but that Sunday morning seemed normal as he took us to the shop. Communication was usually through the children, and he had sent Maryam to inquire about a tire repair before the incident.

Since then, I haven’t seen my husband, although he visited our family house and called me twice, asking when I would return home.

The police, prompted by the Inspector General of Police’s interest, investigated the incident after I shared my account. Despite the challenges, my faith in Almighty Allah and the support of those around me keep me going.