Emotions ran wild on Friday when Segun Adepegba, the father of the three children abandoned in a boarding school in Abule-Iroko,in the Ado-Odo Ota Local Government Area of Ogun State, finally reunited with his children.
Adepegba, who visited Solid Rock Model College where they had been abandoned for eight years, was locked in a tight embrace with his children, promising never to leave them again.
Adepegba told his children, “I am sorry for leaving you, Titi, Seun and Seyi. I am really very sorry. I have missed you all so much. I will not leave you again.”
Many were greatly moved as father and children bonded in what they described as “a mystery and a miracle.”
Last week, PUNCH Metro had exclusively reported the story of the abandoned children, Seun, 14, Titilola 13, and Seyi 10.
The story of the abandoned children reached its climax on Friday when Adepegba bowed to pressure after reading the reports in PUNCH Metro and visited the school.
When he arrived, an angry mob was prevented from attacking him when they learnt he was the father of the “abandoned children.”
The father of three was accompanied by four friends who pleaded on his behalf, saying that he was a changed person.
A friend of the school proprietor, Mr. Ademola Adeyemi , described Adepegba’s return as a miracle, saying he had held vigils to ensure that he returned. “This has shown that God truly answers prayers,” he said.
The news of Adepegba’s arrival attracted passers-by and residents who trooped into the school compound to see him. The students of the school also gathered in groups, discussing the story. They were all smiles seeing their friends reunited with their father.
This moment of joy and reminiscence, however, lasted for a short time as the staff of the school and the residents swooped on Adepegba, blasting him for abandoning his children.
A mild drama ensued when an aged sports facilitator in the school, Godfrey Olopele, who sighted Adepegba from the gate, asked, “Is this the father of the children?” When told it was him, he said, “I have some words for this man. You have not done well. You are very wicked. How could you abandon your children for so long?”
Adepegba’s friends, who spoke with PUNCH Metro, said he never told them he had children in a boarding school.
One of them, identified as Mr. Muyiwa Akinseye, said, “I have known Adepegba for a very long time but I never knew that he had children somewhere. It was until I saw his photograph in the PUNCH that I was shocked to know that my friend had some children somewhere. He had never mentioned a thing like that. I still wondered why he kept something as important as this from me.”
Another friend of Adepegba, identified as Ola, said, “I am a father and I can’t leave my child for that long. Adepegba’s behaviour is really condemnable. When I saw his picture on the PUNCH front page, I had jokingly told him, ‘Adepegba, you have become a superstar. So you have children somewhere?’ I was surprised.”
Adepegba swallowed the rebuke in penitence, prostrating himself intermittently before a crowd in the expansive hall of the school.
He said, “I have offended a lot of people. I have offended my children. I have offended Nigerians. I accept all the blame. And I am really very sorry. I understand that what I have done is very wrong. I was afraid of two things: One was that if I came here, I would be arrested and the second reason was the accumulated debt of the children’s school fees. I reasoned that if I should come to the school, I would be handed over to the police.
“I really miss my children and this time around, I am going to change. I want them to have a good educational background so that they can become important persons in the future. I don’t want them to suffer. I will never leave them again. But all these years, I have been battling with hard times. Things have been very tough for me.
His excuse, however, seemed to aggravate the issue, as more people chided him for his negligence. The Chairman, Parent-Teacher Association of the school, Mr Busari, urged Adepegba to seek the face of God in prayers.
He said, “I advise you to lock up yourself for three days in deep prayers. It is only then that God will open doors for you. You have committed a grievous offence. You have put the proprietor of the school and residents of the neighbourhood into trouble with your untoward behaviour. It is only after doing this that God would forgive you and open doors for you.”
A teacher, Mrs Grace Ajayi, described Adepegba as a bad example of a father. She urged him to look for his wife and reconcile with her. She said it was unfortunate that while many couples were praying to have children, Adepegba chose to abandon his.
Recounting his ordeal, the school proprietor, Mr Samuel Ayegbusi, said he suffered in the hands of the police when Titilola ran away from the school.
“When Titilola ran away from the school and I went to report the matter at the Sango Ota Police Division, the police arrested me, saying I was the first suspect . The matter caused trouble in this community and the issue dented my image. I was forced to cough out close to N50,000 to be bailed,” he said.
Adepegba, however, promised to visit the children regularly. He appreciated many PUNCH readers that indicated interest to pay his children’s debts.
Although Adepegba’s children were relieved that their father was back, they told PUNCH Metro that they were still longing to meet their mother. Seun, the eldest, expressed his joy on the fact that he would not have to spend the holidays in the school hostel while Seyi, the youngest, asked her father to buy her a gift.
Titilola said, “I am very excited that my father is back. All I can say is that I am happy. But I want to see my mother too.”
Adepegba told our correspondent that he would look for their mother. He said her name is Ruth Okochi from Ogwashi-Uku in the Aniocha South Local Government Area of Delta State.
“I know a place she lives in Abuja but I am not sure if she still lives there. I owe it a responsibility to find her for the sake of my children,” he said.