Life would never be the same for the relatives of the victims of various murders that hit the country as 2017 was ending and 2018 was approaching. While many Nigerians were wishing their loved ones Happy New Year and felicitating with one another, it was a gathering of sympathisers and moments of mourning in the homes of the victims’ relatives.
For instance, in Ibadan, Oyo State, Femi Oluwajobi, a popular On Air Personality with singer Yinka Ayefele’s radio station, Fresh FM, was on the New Year’s Eve, December 31, 2017, knocked down and killed by a drunk driver while he (Femi) finished work and was walking to observe the New Year’s Eve at a church. The deceased was buried on Tuesday and is survived by wife and children.
In Ijegun, a Lagos suburb, it was another moment of tears when a father of five, Stephen Olayiwola, 39, was on the New Year’s Day stabbed to death by a co-tenant, Ibrahim Adetunji, following a disagreement. Olayiwola’s wife, Bidemi, has yet to recover from grief.
While 2018 was ushered in with pomp and circumstance by many people, it was not so for some residents of Rivers, Kaduna and Kwara states as assailants attacked them, leaving behind sorrow, tears and blood.
In Rivers State, no fewer than 14 persons were gunned down, while a traditional ruler and his pregnant wife were killed in Kaduna. In Kwara, worshippers were attacked by youths who wanted to organise a New Year carnival.
In Bayelsa State, residents of Ondewari, a coastal settlement in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area, also fled the area following clashes between rival gangs in which two persons were killed shortly before the New Year’s Eve.
Some of the relatives of the victims of the killings across the country shared their tales of agony with Olufemi Atoyebi, Simon Utebor and Jesusegun Alagbe
I want my husband’s killer sentenced to death —35-year-old widow of man stabbed to death by neighbour
When Stephen Olayiwola was returning to his Lagos home after a 21-day sojourn in a prayer mountain in Ilero, Oyo State, little did he know that evil was lurking around for him.
If Olayiwola, the only child of her parents, had known that his life would be taken away from him on New Year’s Day, he might probably have stayed a little longer on the mountain, praying that the evil would pass over him.
But, he had returned on December 31, 2017, only for his neighbour to stab him to death with a bottle around 12 noon the following day.
He had gone to pray for himself and his family as 2018 was approaching, but he barely enjoyed the New Year, spending only about 12 hours in a year that he used 21 days to pray about.
On that fateful day, January 1, Olayiwola, an indigene of Ilua, Kajola Local Government Area of Oyo State, woke up to find the wife of a co-tenant, Ibrahim Adetunji, quarrelling with other tenants in their building located on 66, Lafunke Street, Ijegun, Lagos.
While trying to broker peace, Olayiwola had reportedly chided Adetunji’s wife, Tenilade, telling her that since he (Olayiwola) had been living in the building for over a decade, co-tenants had never quarrelled with one another, until they (the Adetunjis) moved into the compound about a year ago.
Adetunji was said to be angry at the way Olayiwola addressed his wife; however, the latter was said to have apologised, and it seemed the matter had been resolved. But Olayiwola was mistaken.
While he was resting in his one-bedroomed apartment and most of the tenants had gone out to celebrate the New Year’s Day, Adetunji reportedly sneaked into the room, first hitting Olayiwola’s chest with his hand, and thereafter using a broken bottle to stab him.
As Olayiwola groaned and blood gushed out of his chest and hand, Adetunji allegedly never stopped stabbing him. Despite his pathetic condition, Olayiwola still tried to get out of bed, crawled out of the room and hailed an okada (commercial motorcycle) rider to take him to the hospital.
But Adetunji was said to have still dragged his victim down from the okada, apparently bent on making sure that Olayiwola died. The latter eventually died on his way to the hospital and his corpse was deposited at the Isolo General Hospital’s mortuary, while the suspect was arrested and detained by the police from the Isheri-Oshun station.
Sobbing profusely as she spoke to Saturday PUNCH on Thursday, Olayiwola’s wife, Bidemi — who was far away in Ondo State to celebrate the festive period with her parents and siblings when the incident happened — said she had been utterly devastated.
“I don’t know where to pick up my life,” the 35-year-old said, leaning on the shoulder of one of her sympathisers. “How could anyone think of turning me into a widow at this tender age?”
In the past 11 years of living with her husband in the building, Bidemi said no one had ever fought with him and neither had the deceased picked up a quarrel with anyone — until the Adetunjis came in.
She narrated, “Ibrahim and his wife are warmongers, always quarrelling with everyone. There is another woman in our compound, popularly called Iya Isale. Ibrahim is very close to her. In fact, I learned that even though my husband had apologised for trying to settle the quarrel Tenilade was having with another tenant, it was the woman who allegedly went back to the killer and asked him not to succumb. That was how Adetunji came into our room and stabbed my husband while he was sleeping.
“After stabbing my helpless husband, he still held him by the trousers, not allowing him to escape. My husband struggled to crawl out of the room and hailed an okada (motorcycle) rider to take him to the hospital, but his killer still dragged him down, saying he would not let him go until he died. That was how he killed my husband. When I returned from my trip, I saw bottle pellets under the bed.
“Now, I am left with nobody except God. I thought 2018 would bring me joy, but it brought me sorrow. I am too young to cope with this grief. My husband and breadwinner has gone, and now I am left with no one. All my children are still young, the eldest is 10, and the youngest is two. I want my husband’s killer to be killed because he who uses the sword to kill must also be killed by the sword. The government should please hang him to death.”
Our correspondent tried to speak with the Iya Isale, who was accused of fuelling Adetunji’s anger towards Olayiwola, but she was said to have been at large since the incident happened. Also, Adetunji’s wife, Tenilade, has fled the compound since her husband allegedly committed the murder.
Meanwhile, Bidemi accused the alleged killer of having committed other murders in the past, but had always escaped justice.
She said with anger in her voice, “My husband wouldn’t be the first person Adetunji would kill. He himself told us. He was even boasting that he succeeded in killing my husband the other day. He is the son of an herbalist and that day that he killed my husband, I was told that he called his father that he had done ‘it’ again, and that his father should come to his aid.
“There was a time my husband asked Tenilade, ‘What do you fight every now and then?’ Since that time, the woman wouldn’t greet my husband. But my husband didn’t budge an inch. She was even saying that my husband was too bossy, and that he must be kept shut. Now, they have kept my husband shut. I want help from Nigerians. I need justice to be served. Tenilade should also be re-arrested. The police once arrested her but they released her. They ought to have also locked her up because she’s an accomplice.”
In the meantime, while Bidemi and her five children are waiting for justice to be served, she lamented that her husband’s corpse had not been released for burial by the hospital.
She said, “The police are refusing to allow us take my husband’s corpse away from the mortuary at Isolo General Hospital, Lagos since January 1. They said I should bring N60,000 for clearance. I am to also pay N50,000 to the hospital to get my husband’s corpse released. Where would I get N110,000 from?
“I am just an apprentice fashion designer. I will finish learning by March. I don’t have any money to pay the police and the mortuary. Now, I am also afraid that my children’s education would suffer. My husband worked at a wine distribution company, but he was not getting huge income there.
“But please, I want justice because if Adetunji should be left alone, he could commit more murders. We all saw his room that day after the police came to arrest him. There were charms everywhere. We saw a strange lizard he was breeding in the room. My husband was the only child of his parents. His mother died six months ago at the age of 60. My husband’s father is highly devastated now. The two people in his life have gone.
“One painful thing in this whole scenario is that as Christians, we have always been good to the Adetunjis despite their hostility. We regularly supplied them electricity from our generator anytime there was blackout. In fact, when my husband returned from his 21-day prayer session, he brought yam tubers and even gave some to his killers. Why would they then do this to us if not for their wickedness?”
A resident of the neighbourhood who came to sympathise with Bidemi, simply identified as Lola, also demanded justice for her friend, saying, “Uncle Stephen was a peacekeeper; everyone in the neighbourhood always says this. I never saw him quarrelling with anyone. He was hospitable. All the children in the neighbourhood were his children.”
The Public Relations Officer of the Lagos State Police Command, Chike Oti, said he would find out why Olayiwola’s corpse had yet to be released for burial and give Saturday PUNCH feedback on the issue.
However, he had yet to do so as of the time of publishing this story.
My son was my friend, he shared everything with me —Father of Ibadan broadcaster killed by drunk driver
The family of Oluwafemi Oluwajobi, who was killed by a hit-and-run driver on his way to the Crossover Night Service a few minutes before 2017 ended, told Saturday PUNCH that the deceased had planned to inaugurate an online radio station in January 2018.
Oluwajobi seemed destined for greatness from his youthful days. Aware of the level of expectation and pressure on him as the first child of his parents, he diligently prepared himself for the task of shouldering the responsibilities of helping his siblings and making his parents proud.
At the Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago-Iwoye, Ogun State, where he studied statistics, he was said to have faced the challenge of being wooed persistently and aggressively to join cult groups. But he did not succumb to the cultists’ offer of protection if he joined them.
At a time when the university was on strike, Oluwajobi explored his talent, which was far from what he was studying in the university. Even though his decision to attend a short-term journalism course at the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria Training School in Lagos was meant to fill the vacuum created by the strike, it offered him a route to a profession that earned him fame and a promise of a better tomorrow.
Sadly, he did not see the year 2018 as he died a few minutes to the end of 2017, after dropping the same microphone that had amplified his hugely masculine voice to listeners of his programme on Fresh FM, Ibadan.
The circumstance surrounding his death on New Year’s Eve was tragic. It was more harrowing because the painful death came on his way to the Crossover Night Service at a church close to his office where he had hoped to witness the arrival of the New Year. It was a few days to the formal opening of his online Christian radio station, which he had named Crystal FM. Above all, Oluwajobi died a few months before the arrival of his second child.
A few minutes to the premature termination of his life and his promising broadcasting career, Oluwajobi was full of life as he took his turn during the Fresh FM’s Erebente Night. He left immediately after and headed to church.
Oluwajobi was hit and killed by a driver who claimed that the brake of his car failed and that he lost its control.
There was no chance for the young Oluwajobi to survive the heart-rending incident. The driver, who has now been arrested, fled the scene and presented himself at a police station, claiming that he was the owner of the car and that he gave it to an electrician, who killed the ace broadcaster. Further interrogations unveiled the truth and he later confessed to the owner of Fresh FM, Yinka Ayefele, in a recording made available to our correspondent that he actually drove the car when it hit Oluwajobi.
At his family house in the Olodo area of Ibadan, relatives, parents and siblings of the 32-year-old Oluwajobi wept uncontrollably a day after he was interred. The street was in mournful state and one could not miss the silence that pervaded the environment. It was evident that a star had dropped.
Some of his relatives, who summoned courage to speak with our correspondent when he visited on Wednesday, attested to the deceased’s unique approach to life, which they said was central to his early success in life in an environment where opportunities were limited.
Oluwajobi’s grieving father, Thomas Egunjobi, an evangelist, said the death of his son at his prime had imprinted an indelible mark on his life, one that he must learn to accept as a Christian.
According to him, his son was a realist who had an honest approach to life. Egunjobi said his son confided in him before taking any step in life. Recalling the encounter his son had with cultists in school, Egunjobi said that his son’s faith in God helped him to surmount the challenge.
He said, “Since his childhood days, my son was a humble, quiet and focused person. He had the ambition of becoming a prominent person in life. He was hard-working and he believed in God. We were like friends because he shared his thoughts and whatever happened to him with me.
“He called me one day and told me that cultists were after him in school. They wanted him to be part of the group but he refused. He was in the school with his sister, Temitope. Because of the threat, Temitope left the school after Femi graduated. She had to go elsewhere to complete her studies.
“Instead of joining the cult group, my son decided to join the student parish of the Celestial Church of Christ. Instead of attending meetings at night with the cult group, he would keep vigil at the church. When they could not convince him, they decided to invite him to a party.
“My son told me that the spirit of God told him not to honour the invitation, so he went to church. When he came back on the second day, someone came to him and threatened him. But God saw him through his studies.
“He developed interest in journalism after he listened to a radio advertisement sponsored by FRCN Training School in Lagos. The university was on strike, so he went for the training in Lagos. After he completed his degree, he also went for further journalism study, which qualified him to work at various radio stations.
“My elder brother, Laoye Egunjobi, who worked with Anike Agbaje-William and the late Adebayo Faleti at the Nigerian Television Authority in the 60s was elated, that after all, a member of his family would take over from where he stopped in journalism. He encouraged my son a lot. He first worked at the Broadcasting Corporation of Oyo State, Ibadan, but he complained of poor remuneration. I urged him to endure it and build a career from there. He later worked at Space FM before he was employed by Yinka Ayefele to work at Fresh FM. He was loved by Ayefele and other workers. 2018 has brought us sorrow.”
Despite the loss of his son, Egunjobi said his consolation was that Oluwajobi knew Christ and that in death, he was honoured.
He said, “Death could come in any form and while I am sad at the loss of my son and the manner of his death, I am also consoled by the fact that he was on his way to church when he died. At the time when he was going to church for the crossover service, some people were at night clubs and beer parlours drinking into the New Year.
“I was not at his burial but from what I heard, it was befitting. He might have lived longer and had an unbefitting burial. That is why I thank God for granting that grace. Femi was a star, but he was cut short and could not fulfil his ambition.”
Asked what would be his reaction if he were to meet the driver who killed his son, the bereaved father said he would not seek vengeance.
He simply said, “We leave judgment to God. God will judge him according to his deed. There is nothing that will happen without the knowledge of God. Everyone has a cross to bear.”
In the last discussion he had with his father, Oluwajobi expressed dissatisfaction that he had not been able to do enough to help the family.
“During our last meeting, he was expressing dissatisfaction that he had not been doing enough to help his siblings and parents. We are retirees but we are contented with the little we have. I told him not to blame himself. He was still young and he just started earning better salary compared to what he was earning before. I also urged him to continue serving God,” Egunjobi said.
The deceased’s younger brother, Daniel, revealed that Oluwajobi had a tall ambition of establishing an online Christian radio station, stating that he had already perfected plans to float the station – Crystal FM – to win souls for Jesus Christ.
“The plan was that his wife and siblings would help him to grow the station. But he did not fulfil that ambition. When he was offered a job at Fresh FM, he told us things would change for the better,” he said.
While Oluwajobi’s mother, Mojisola, said he would find it difficult to cope with her son’s loss because she was accustomed to listening to his programme daily and waiting for his call every night, his sister, Temitope, said she visited him at work on December 21, 2017, a day before his 32nd birthday.
“I saw him last on December 21, 2017 which was a day before his birthday. I was going to Lagos, so I visited him in his office. I asked him how he was going to celebrate his birthday and he said it would be low-key. He also told me that when I returned to Ibadan, he would bring his son to my house for vacation. He died a week after his birthday. He said that if he had the money, his wife would be delivered of their baby in the United States,” said Temitope.
We’re in pains —Family of man killed in Bayelsa
On December 30, 2017, a violent armed clash between rival youth groups led to the deaths of Ebimobowei Alasuo, aka Okpotu, and an unnamed youth in Ondewari community of Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of Bayelsa State.
The youth groups reportedly clashed over oil pipeline surveillance jobs at the Nigerian Agip Oil Company oilfields.
A renowned environmentalist, Mr. Alagoa Morris, an indigene of the community, had said that the clash was avoidable as the community folks had earlier alerted security agencies during the build-up to the crisis.
Morris, who is the Bayelsa State Coordinator, Environmental Right Action and Friends of the Earth Nigeria, regretted that the community lost two promising youths in the renewed clash.
In an interview with Saturday PUNCH, Okpotu’s elder brother, Mr. Randolph Alasuo, lamented the killing of his younger brother, expressing surprise that his brother was killed by persons he had nothing in common with.
He, therefore, called on the security agencies to unravel the killers of his brother with a view to ending the orgy of killings in the community.
He alleged that the people who killed Okpotu came from the waterside in Ondewari community, adding that the death had left a huge gap in the family.
Alasuo said, “We are in pains; we urge the security agencies to find Okpotu’s killers. The family is planning to bury him.”
The Acting Paramount Ruler of Ondewari Community, Chief Peresho Erefawari, who decried frequent clashes by armed youth groups, had allegedly urged the Bayelsa State Government to intervene to halt the bloodshed before the year-end disaster occured.
“The clash was caused by a protest by some youths in the community, who were aggrieved following their exclusion in the petroleum pipeline protection jobs in the area. We have tried in vain to broker truce so that peace will prevail, but it was to no avail,” Erefawari stated.
The spokesperson for the Bayelsa State Police Command, Mr. Asinim Butswat, said the command had mobilised more personnel to the community to ensure peace was restored.
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