It was December 27, 2012. A quarrel arose between a taxi driver, Kehinde Adekunle, and two men on motorbike at Mpape, a suburb and shantytown of the FCT. In the melee, a passenger of the motorcycle asked the rider to chase the taxi man. At the junction where the road to Katampe intersects that going right to the centre of Mpape, the bike caught up with the green taxi.
Immediately, the man, who later identified himself as Anthony and a soldier that serves in a formation in Kaduna but with family resident in Katampe, jumped down from the bike, grabbed the cabman at the jugular, aimed a deadly jab at his head. The man allegedly slumped and hit his head further on a hard substance as the doctors later found in hospital.
Kehinde, 45, and father of three young kids, went unconscious. The state of coma lasted for about 12 days until the battle to revive him after head operation in Wellington Hospital in Wuse 2, was lost.
Today, Kehinde’s 37-year-old wife, Folakemi, his three kids, aged between eight and three, two girls and a boy, are confused. The head of their family is gone. Life looks grimmer than before for the lowly family that resides in a home you would pity the occupants in Katampe.
Isaac Adekunle, younger brother to the deceased cabman, says, "When the soldier found that my brother was unconscious, he took him in his taxi to a hospital for attention.
"As the hospital referred them to another, the man got there and immediately we came there, he dropped N10,000 with us together with his phone number and absconded. Till date, we have not seen him. The phone is switched off since then. The man’s name, although we didn’t get his surname is Anthony. His phone number is 08103844866."
What serves as the home of the Adekunles now further burdened by the death of the head of the family is a bacha that is hinged to a mud house on a dusty street in the decrepit settlement called Katampe down and over rugged landscapes.
The shantytown is rusty and has poverty and squalor written all over it. In front of the home by the left side of the road as you descend the little slope is the cab Kehinde drove until the day the bully hit and left him to die after days of coma he never recovered from.
It is an old fashion Nissan Sunny car painted green. The number of the car is ABUJA XD628YAB.
Sorrow lives here
The outer end of the ramshackle structure is made of corrugated iron sheet roof and walls. It is as hot as an oven in the day. There were litterings of some home items and things that would serve as wares for sale. Fresh tomatoes, food seasonings, some grains, pepper, salt, red oil and others littered the entire floor.
Folakemi, the sorrow-stricken widow said she subsists on petty trading, and part of their residence serves as her shop. How she would cope with the burden of taking care of her little kids is a guess she would not want to try her mind on now. She looked confused and said it also. She managed to say few words as the tale of what happened to her husband was handled by Kehinde’s younger brother, Isaac.
With her widowed mother was the dark slim pretty girl, just eight, and first child of the deceased.
Her young siblings, another girl, five, and the youngest, a boy of three, were busy with their play in the neighbourhood. If there is anything called death, the little boy didn’t give a care in this world. With his bruised and swollen lower lip, he was too busy and engrossed with drawing patterns on the dusty ground that he was never concerned with the presence of the visitors, who literally pinned him down to sit by the mother and sisters for a photograph.
When little Ade grows to understand what happened on December 27, 2012 between his father and a bully soldier, who knows the mindset he would have about Nigerian soldiers?
Watching him and the immediate elder sister dash in and out of the place to have some more play makes you fight tears back for the long hard road ahead of them, coming from a family where things have been the opposite of smooth even when their struggling cab driver father was around to provide for them.
Bad enough, the family members were overtaken by the grief of the incident that they admitted not reporting the matter to the police until Kehinde died. They created so much room for the suspect to escape. But another source told Abuja Metro that it would have been out of fear as they say that Anthony, the terrible soldier, is known for manhandling people in the area just for being a soldier.
There are conflicting facts about the person of Anthony. But one thing certain is that he is actually a soldier. While the Adekunle family from Modakeke in Osun State said Anthony is just out of the Nigeria Defence Academy, others say that fact is not even certain. It took the intervention of the pastor of Kehinde’s church to get as much fact as being sure that Anthony is actually a soldier. At the time Abuja Metro spoke with the Divisional Police Officer of Mpape on phone,
Thursday last week, he hinted that his office had submitted a written request to the commandant of the Lungi Barracks, Abuja, to have access to the wife of Anthony that later ran away from their Katampe home to hide in the barracks. A source said the parents of Anthony live there but the DPO confirmed that it is his immediate family that ran away from Katampe that is hiding there.
That lead was got when the DPO after Abuja Metro’s visit on January 15 invited Anthony’s mother in-law, who divulged the fact. The DPO was on the way to his office when Abuja Metro called him in the afternoon of January 17 to inquire the extent of progress made in the investigation. He also said they had not got the okada rider that drove the soldier and caught up with the cabman he killed. From the DPO’s tale, Anthony actually serves in a military formation in Kaduna and not a student that just graduated from the NDA as the victim’s family said.
Rigorous medical aid
After Kehinde was reduced to vegetable by the attack, he was sent to the Aso Clinic at the State House from where he was referred to another hospital. Kehinde was later taken to the National Hospital from where he was referred to the University of Abuja Teaching Hospital, Gwagwalada. At this place, the hospital complained it had no facility, not even a spare bed to accommodate him and he was brought back to the National Hospital. From there, again, he was taken to the private clinic in Wuse 2 where he underwent head surgery. Through all these, Kehinde was on life support and in coma.
A little after the head surgery where the doctors said he had brain injury according to a report given the family, he died.
Asked why the matter was not taken up immediately by the police to arrest Anthony, the family members replied they reported the matter, but some two policemen on duty said their DPO was not in office and could not go to arrest a soldier so that there wouln’t be clash between them and the army.
But they later admitted that, that effort was not even on the day of the incident but possibly on the day Kehinde died. A call to the DPO that day of visit was successful as he directed the team to a mechanic workshop where he had gone to fix his car. On meeting the man, he explained that it was on the day Kehinde died the family brought the matter. He said he was not aware they came earlier and noted that they even sent someone through phone call to inform the police and that was many days after they could not reach Anthony on the phone anymore.
"I can guess they had an understanding with the soldier that made him visit the deceased in hospital and also dropped some money as part of the bill. It is possible they expected all to be well and decided not to inform us until the man died. We are already on the matter and the pastor of the victim is doing much to link us with the army to further the investigation and we will do our best on it.
"We are working towards getting the man through the pastor, who used senior army officers to get him the first time. We will even get the cyclist, who was used to double-cross the victim so as to get detailed information on what happened," he added.