Woman commits suicide over inability to pay debts

Tragedy struck in Abeokuta, on Saturday, as a middle-aged woman, known in her neighbourhood as Mama Dada, set herself on fire in her rented apartment.

The woman’s remains were burnt beyond recognition and the entire building was also razed.

The incident happened at Oke-Keesi, Itoko area of Abeokuta.

According to a witness, Rasheed Aina, who resides around the deceased’s residence, the woman killed herself for being unable to repay a loan she took from a microfinance bank popularly known as ‘LAPO’.

“Her neighbour told me that the loan was to the tune of N70,000,” Mr Aina said.

LAPO was established as a Nigerian non-governmental organisation in 1987 to help local Nigerians move out of poverty.

The organisation was expanded into a microfinance institute, MFI, in 1990, and was registered as a microfinance bank in 2007.

Lapo in Abeokuta is known for lending money to traders and other small-scale business owners with strict repayment plans.

A former member of the Lapo group, who identified herself simply as Mrs Adeogun, said an ‘unprecedented embarrassment’ will befall anyone who refuses to pay back the borrowed money at the set date.

“If you refuse to pay them back at the set date, you will be treated like trash, you will be embarrassed in a big way, in a manner that your children will forever be ashamed of. I know what I am saying, I used to be a member.

“ One must be a member and a committed one before you will be given a reasonable amount of money. What they do is that you will join the group and start making thrift with them. It is the evidence of this thrift through your card that will qualify you for a loan which you must either pay back outrightly or in batches. But either in batches or outrightly, there is always a set date for repayment that you must meet but if you default…! you will live to blame yourself.”

The house set ablaze over Lapo debt in Ogun

Secretary of the community development association in the area, Mr Babawale, said: “She is owing the ‘Gbomu le lantern’ the sum of N70k. Because she was unable to meet up with the payment she then sent her last born to buy fuel and also used style to discharge the small boy she locked herself up inside the room and wet everywhere with petrol including herself and set the whole place on fire.”

The corpse has been deposited at the State General Hospital, Ijaye, Abeokuta.

Contacted, the Police Public Relations Officer, Abimbola Oyeyemi, promised to get back after being briefed on the incident but had not as of press time.