Mrs Janet Rekhia Izevbehai (Nee Iredafe) was born about 78 years ago in a small rural community of Ubuneke Ivbiaro, Owan East Local Government Area of Edo State. She was the last of five siblings born by Late Mallam Audu Iredafe and Mrs. Amishetu Iredafe who incidentally, are also my grand parents thus making the deceased my aunty.
Her family members were predominantly Muslims. Her father Mallam Audu Iredafe was the pioneer indigenous Imam (worship leader) of a mosque in the Muslim community having acquired Islamic knowledge from the Hausa/Fulani missionaries who brought the religion to the Afemai Region. Her mother was a House wife/Business woman.
Her passage opened a deluge of fun memories of her benevolence to the family through her frequent visitations to her birth place with precious gifts causing many to change their attitude towards girl child education.
In those years, coming from this kind of humble background, especially at a period where little or no value was placed on education generally, educating a girl child was a rarity. This indeed was a daunting challenge including the prevailing low level awareness on girl child education then; girls were more or less not allowed to go to school. This was the situation she found herself. It was said that little Rekhia then would weep uncontrollably and sometime go on hunger strike for days in protest against her parent’s failure to enroll her at the nearest elementary school then located at Warrake about 8 kilometres away from Ivbiaro.
Finally her parents succumbed but she had to braze the rigour of trekking 16 kilometres to and from school every day.
According to an old school mate of hers, Janet was always the first to get ready for school every morning ahead of all other pupils from Ivbiaro attending the same school. She was also the brightest among her peers and that posed a greater challenge on her to succeed in her academic pursuit.
Life was not fair to Janet Rekhia Izevbehai as she lost her father at a very young age. Due to the death of her father, her education was cut short after secondary school. This changed the course of her life, and defined her future.
She got enlisted into the Nigeria Police Force and went through training at the Nigeria Police College Ikeja in Lagos State and became a Constable. She really had passion for her job as a Police Woman, who with hard work and doggedness, later rose through the ranks to become a Chief Superintendent of Police (CSP),
During her journey as a Police Officer, she served in Benin City, Edo State at the Police Force Head Quarters.
She also served in places like Jos, Plateau State, Enugu in Enugu State, Abakaliki in Ebony State where she was the Area Command Officer and finally at Calabar, where she acted as the Assistant Commissioner of Police, before her retirement from the Force. Mrs Janet Rekhia Izevbehai, retired after rendering 35 years of meritorious service.
Mrs. Izevbehai also served in the Police Force in various capacities and departments such a ‘A’ Division as she was in charge of Administrative matters. In ‘B’ Division, she was in charge of Operations, ‘C’ Division as she was in charge of Logistics and Supply, ‘D’ Division she was in charge of Investigation and Intelligence e.t.c. She distinguished her self in the course of her chosen career, a quality that earned many honours.
During the early part of her life, she got converted to Christianity from the Islamic Faith since she found Christ and became a believer. She had a special relationship with God and because of her, some of her friends and extended family members became converted to Christianity.
Mrs Janet Rekhia Izevbehai (Nee Iredafe) was a family woman to the core, a faithful wife and loving mother who sacrificed her personal comfort at all time for the growth of her family.
Her passion to the well being of her family was the most unique in her life adventure as she took a giant step to liberate the family from the shackles and manacles of illiteracy in her maiden family to the olympian height of academic successes when she once more and against all odds ensured that Sister Maminetu, the first child of her elder brother Alhaji Braimah Audu Iredafe furthered her education beyond secondary school level. The impact of that singular act can not today be measured in Naira and Kobo as it provided the impetus for the rest of her brother’s children including my humble self to take up the challenge of going to school. She was an inspiration to many up and coming youths from her home town Ivbiaro.
One can proudly say that the family today has got over 15 university graduates some of whom have acquired their doctoral degrees.
Besides being the first female high ranking police officer from the community, she became a good example of the capacity of educated and enlightened female children to care for their maiden family members.
On the 24th of October, 1966 a new chapter began in her life, she got married to Mr. Dominic Izevbhai and this union was blessed with two lovely daughters who have achieved a lot in their chosen fields of endeavour. She was a pillar of support to her husband and the entire family. She remained married to him until her death. She peacefully departed this world on the 14th of May, 2020 and has been laid to rest in her residence in Benin City.
Janet Rekhia Izevbehai was a kind hearted person one could ever meet. She never allowed you depart her presence without offering you something to fill your stomach. This didn’t mean she had so much to throw around but her belief in the universal principle of sharing from what one has no matter how little, spurred her. She had passion for reading the Bible as well as singing (music). She was also passionate about the condition of the less privileged and widows in the society by lending a helping hand. She was a pleasant personality, and was loved by many. Despite this pleasant personality, she was also a strong personality who brooked no indiscipline and indolence among his subordinates in the Force and family members; a trait that stood her out. Madam Janet Rekhia Izevbehai will always be remembered for her remarkable achievements in life. She will never be forgotten and will always be irreplaceable to us. Her beautiful life will for ever be cherished in the life of her children, grandchildren, son-in-laws and a host of nieces, nephews, extended family relatives and friends.
We are consoled with the fact that she has gone to be with the Lord her Saviour where she has perfect peace in her maker. We celebrate her life and pray that God should help heal our broken hearts. Rest on aunty.