The death of a 44-year-old man, Kunle Adewole, is causing ripples in Ijaye-Ojokoro area of Lagos.
Adewole, who operated a gambling centre, died on August 3, a day after he was allegedly beaten black and blue by some commercial motorbike operators in the area.
Wife of the deceased, Mrs. Abosede Adewole, and his business partner, Mr. Gbenga Bankole, are accusing the chairman of the Motorcycle Operators Association of Lagos State (MOALS) in the area, Kazeem Olufodun, of being responsible for the death. But Olufodun has denied the accusation, saying one of his colleagues, Tirimisiyu Muraina, should be held responsible.
It was learnt that on August 2, a 16-year-old boy gambled with N8, 000 at Adewole’s gambling stand around the MOALS park. It was gathered that when the teenager realised the enormity of his loss, he demanded a refund, and he was reluctantly given N2, 000 by the deceased.
Not satisfied, the teenager reported the matter to some okada riders at the park. The deceased was allegedly summoned by Olufodun and was ordered to refund the boy’s money. When he refused, Adewole was allegedly beaten by some of the okada riders on Olufodun’s orders. Eyewitnesses said Adewole was seriously beaten and that he collapsed several times. He was later rushed to a nearby private hospital by his assailants. At the hospital, he was referred to the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH), where Adewole eventually passed on.
When Daily Sun called at Adewole’s residence in Ijoko, Ogun State, his second wife, Abosede, who recently gave birth to a baby boy, sobbed as she relayed her last moments with Adewole.
“On August 2, he left home for work and when he did not return on time, I decided to call some of his partners only to be confronted with the news that he was involved in an accident. I quickly rushed to the scene when he was about to be moved to Ikeja General Hospital.
“There was a lot of people around and I was told that he was beaten by some boys loyal to the chairman of the okada park. Doctors told us that he sustained internal injuries and that the sum of N100, 000 was needed to carry out surgery on him. However, he died before we could raise the money for his treatment.
“But I became suspicious when the man alleged to have ordered his beating gave me N20, 000 while my husband was fighting for life. His family said they would not press charges against his suspected killers because they do not have money to file a law suit. My husband was an employee of Nigeria Bottling Company (NBC). He was one of those temporarily relieved of their appointments recently after which he took to private business.
He had just been recalled before his death. He was nicknamed Computer because he was such an intelligent person. I am his second wife. His first wife had three children for him. Now, I have been forced to become a widow this early in life. I’m only a petty trader. My husband was fending for us and he had promised to set me up in a business once he returned to his work. I know he couldn’t have fought anyone because he was such a gentle, easy-going man.”
Gbenga Bankole, the deceased’s business partner, who witnessed the incident, explained that Adewole had returned the money he collected from the teenager before he was fatally beaten.
His words: “We were together at a corner of the park, doing our business when a teenager came to gamble with some money. Unfortunately for the boy, he staked the sum of N8,000 and lost. Then he started begging for a refund of his money and, out of compassion, the deceased, who was my senior partner, gave him N2,000, but he was not satisfied.
“We later learnt that the boy had approached top officials of the MOALS branch at the park. A few minutes later, Computer (Adewole) was summoned by Olufodun and he went to see him. After a few hours, he returned with his clothes torn. I asked him what happened and he told me that he was asked to refund the boy’s money and that he was beaten mercilessly.
“He had barely finished speaking when he collapsed. When we made efforts to revive him, he said he wanted to visit the toilet, but he collapsed again after taking a few steps. We rushed him to a nearby hospital where he was again revived. “From there, he was referred to LASUTH where doctors said he would need to undergo surgery because he had suffered internal bleeding as a result of the beating he received. We were asked to raise the sum of N100, 000 but we were running around to raise the money when he died the following day.
“We reported the matter at the Ojokoro Police Station and six of those who perpetrated the act were arrested but later released. The question is: why should Olufodun order his men to beat the deceased when they are not law enforcement operatives? They took the law into their own hands and their action culminated in the death of my partner.”
A resident of the area, who wanted to be anonymous, described the incident as shocking.
“Computer and I were talking when some okada riders came and said their chairman wanted to see him. He was initially afraid to go but I encouraged him to go and meet the man, who is also known as Major. Then I left the place to attend to some other things.
“A few minutes later, I learnt that the deceased had been brutally beaten and that he vomited several times before he was rushed to a private hospital. He was later transferred to LASUTH where he died the following day.”
In a telephone conversation with the reporter, Olufodun, who is Chairman of Branch ‘A’ of MOALS, denied any complicity in the matter. He responded: “I don’t know who must have told you that I was responsible for the incident. If you must know, I was not around when the incident occurred and I don’t have a hand in his death. I was told that some boys from an okada park under the control of one Tirmisiyu Muraina were the ones, who allegedly chased the deceased to our park and that those boys ran back when some of my members rescued him.
“The same Tirimisiyu has been spreading false information about my complicity in the death of Adewole and even wrote a petition to the Zone 2 Police Command, Lagos. I know that his motive is to implicate me so that he can seize the opportunity of my absence to take over my park.
“I have just been released from detention after about five days in police cell. For your information, the matter was reported as a case of assault at the Ojokoro Police Station.”
Asked why he gave the family of the deceased money when he visited them in the hospital, he became angry. “Why would you ask me such a question? I will not answer your question and I’ll suggest you ask those who gave you the information that I had a hand in Adewole’s death. Besides, I don’t talk to journalists on the phone. I’d rather see you in person than engage you in a phone conversation,” he said.
Also speaking, Tirmisiyu, who is the Chairman of Branch “E” of MOALS, absolved himself of complicity in Adewole’s death. He said: “I don’t have anything to do with the incident at all. The story is being peddled by Olufodun to implicate me because my presence and large followership unsettles him. I have stated my own side of the matter in my explanation to the men of the Zone 2 Police Command.”
“The deceased couldn’t have been chased to the okada park under Olufodun’s control. This is because the deceased had been operating from the park for some time and he was said to have carried out some transactions on the day he was allegedly killed by Olufodun’s boys. And what actually compelled me to react was that Olufodun, in a bid to exonerate himself, told family members of the deceased and other people in the community that my boys were the ones responsible for Adewole’s death.
“My park is in Ajala area of Ojokoro Local Council Development Area while Olufodun’s park is the one at Ijaiye where the incident occurred.” Attempts to get the police reaction were unfruitful. Spokesperson of the Lagos State Police Command, Ngozi Braide, failed to respond to enquiries by our correspondent.