By Hope Abah Emmanuel
Makurdi — Many colleagues of Professor Frank Onyezili of the Biological Sciences Department of Federal University of Agriculture Makurdi (FUAM), Benue State, are baffled that the academic decided to end his own life voluntarily.
The manner in which the late Prof Onyezili allegedly killed himself has since become a subject of controversy among his colleagues and also generated unanswered questions in the public domain as to why a man of his status would commit suicide.
Our correspondent, who visited the institution to ascertain the situation, gathered that the late don allegedly took his life by drinking a substance suspected to be poison leaving behind a suicide note.
The Director of Protocol and Information of the university, Mrs Roseline Waku, had earlier confirmed the incident but noted that she was not privy to the content of the note left behind by the deceased.
Sadly, no one at the university who spoke to Daily Trust wanted their name in print because they were not permitted to talk about it and largely due to the circumstances of the professor’s death.
The office of the professor on the second floor, Room 65 of the Department of Biochemistry with his name emboldened on the door was locked.
It was also learnt that the deceased’s decision to end his own life might not be unconnected to the depression and loneliness which he was believed to have suffered lately because wife and children are said to be living abroad.
A colleague of the deceased who declined to mention his name, alleged that the family of late Prof Onyezili had abandoned him and that may have been why he decided to end it all.
But for some of his colleagues, they are suspecting that the late professor may have been killed by unknown persons who might have forced him to write the suicide note to cover up their crime.
One of the colleagues told our correspondent that the deceased was an easy going man who one would never have contemplated would take his own life.
“He was an amiable person, the longest serving professor in the university. He mentored so many academics who are professors now. He was a thorough and well bred academic; a stickler for due process. He hated dishonesty and was very reliable, one of the best the university ever had,” the source said.
For the FUAM chapter chairman of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Dr. Veronica Ojogbane, the late professor was dependable and one of the institution’s finest.
“Professor Frank was our member. Before I got into the system, he was one of the persons on the panel that interviewed me. He was articulated, a seasoned researcher and academic. He did his work diligently.
“I’m not aware of whatever problem he had which translated into the alleged suicide. He often spoke his mind frankly, just like his name,” Ojogbane added.
Similarly, a technical assistant at the department’s laboratory, who craved for anonymity, wondered why a senior lecturer that in his estimation should be in place to counsel younger people against committing suicide would take his own life.
He, however, described the late professor as even-tempered, a good person who took his job seriously and related with people well. He repeatedly questioned whatever it could have subjected the deceased to suicide.
“He (Onyezili) didn’t even look depressed, neither did he exhibit questionable behaviour during the last moments he was seen before the news of his death broke,” the technician said.
Meanwhile, the university authority would not divulge any further information about the deceased as the autopsy report was being awaited from relevant quarters including the police.
But the spokesman of the Benue State Police Command, Moses Joel Yamu, a DSP, said the incident was not reported promptly but that investigation into the matter had began while the process of the post-mortem examination was underway at the time of this report.
Analyzing why an academic of high standing as the late professor would even contemplate suicide, a consultant psychiatrist with the Benue State University Teaching Hospital (BSUTH) and Head of Department of Psychiatry, Associate Professor Agbir Terkura Michael, said such decisions were irrespective of the victim’s social class.
“Anyone, irrespective of social standing in the society, could commit suicide if such person was afflicted with an ailment. There is no respect for profession under suicidal influence,” Michael posited.
The medical practitioner stressed that almost 90 per cent of those who commit suicide were depressed, as adding that the common cause of suicides was depression which, when it sets in, the part of symptoms to be noticed immediately included hopelessness.