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Another murder scandal rocks Ago Iwoye • Palace guards killed my husband, woman cries out

Posted by By FEMI BABAFEMI and RAZAQ BAMIDELE on 2005/07/07 | Views: 1305 |

Another murder scandal rocks Ago Iwoye • Palace guards killed my husband, woman cries out

Just as a panel of inquiry has begun to investigate the alleged killing of some students of Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago-Iwoye, Ogun State, facts have emerged on how a staffer of the institution, Mr Gbenga Onakoya, was macheted to death allegedly by palace guards who have also been fingered in the latest crisis.

Just as a panel of inquiry has begun to investigate the alleged killing of some students of Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago-Iwoye, Ogun State, facts have emerged on how a staffer of the institution, Mr Gbenga Onakoya, was macheted to death allegedly by palace guards who have also been fingered in the latest crisis.

Ago-Iwoye, the town in Ogun State, which accommodates the permanent site of the Olabisi Onabanjo University, recently erupted in violence following the death of a student after an encounter with vigilante group members.

Irked by the death, the students had stormed the palace of the town’s monarch, Oba Rasaq Adenugba and set it ablaze.
The incident later degenerated with the students chased out of town by vigilante members and the institution shut down.
In the midst of the student-vigilante group clash, the widow of a staff member of the university, Mrs Gbemisola Onakoya, is raising fresh dust over the killing in February, this year, of her husband by palace guards, allegedly on the orders of Oba Adenugba.

Mrs Onakoya told Daily Sun that the traditional ruler ordered the killing of her husband in cold blood without any justification.
Oba Adenugba, while admitting the killing, however, vehemently denied having prior knowledge or hand in it.

In her account, the widow who said they were newly wedded and had a four-month-old baby when her husband was murdered, explained further that their ordeal started when there was a misunderstanding between the deceased and some students of the Olabisi Onabanjo University.
According to her, some students led by one Dipo had been coming to demand some money from her husband over a failed deal to help them jerk up their examination scores.
The case was later reported to the police who arrested Onakoya but released him after taking his statement.

According to her, "at about 11p.m that same day, that is, on Sunday February 13, we were sleeping when some vigilante group men, who are palace guards, led by one Eruku broke our doors and said the Oba wanted to see my husband. We were even naked when they bumped into our room.
"We pleaded with them to allow us wear our dress if indeed the Oba wanted to see us at the odd hour. We closed the door to try to put on some clothes but they removed the door completely from its frame. At that point, they started dragging my husband who could only wear a shirt and a pant. They didn’t allow him wear ordinary slippers. They dragged him on the floor from our room down the staircase of our storey building.

"While they took him away, I followed behind. At the palace, I met Oluronbi who is the chief security officer to the Oba. One Afaro who is also a palace guard was interrogating my husband over the incident earlier reported to the police. They asked me to go home but I refused.
"Later, my husband urged me to go and report his plight to the school authorities early in the morning. I left the palace around 1a.m. While I was home, I was hearing the sound of a motorcycle moving around our area.

"In the morning, Eruku came to our house to tell me my husband escaped from the palace around 4a.m. I said that was not possible. I dashed to the palace to request for my husband and they told me the same thing. I went to report at the police station but they were too scared to act. Then, I went to the school where I reported to his boss and union.

"One of the university guards who was coming from duty in the morning sighted traces of blood near his house and decided to trace it to a nearby bush where he saw a corpse. He later went to report to the king’s CSO who went to the scene with the police after which they went there to identify the corpse.
"The police later arrested all the palace guards on duty that night, including students who were involved.
"We were shocked when members of our family stormed the palace to ask the Oba why my husband was killed by his guards and the Oba just chased us out. He said was it because of the death of one man that we trooped to his palace?

"The case and suspects were eventually transferred to the police command headquarters, Eleweran, Abeokuta and soon after, they were all released. Up till now, no one was charged to court.
"Even at a point, the Oba told me to leave the town, saying after the death of my husband, he can’t guarantee my own safety and that is why I had to relocate to Ibadan with my four months old baby, Oyindamola."

The widow, who could not hold back tears, said her only regret is that "they did not allow my little son the opportunity of knowing his father in life and even upon that, no care, no concern, instead we were harassed and intimidated out of the town."

She said since Oba Adenugba has used his position to deny her family of justice, "we have left everything to God and that’s why God is exposing the atrocities of the Oba through the latest crisis."
Asked what role the university authorities played after the incident, Mrs Onakoya lamented that beyond giving a befitting burial to her husband, nothing remarkable had been done by the school.
She, however, singled out the union for protesting the killing. The widow said further that the authorities perhaps could not do much for fear of incurring the Oba’s wrath.

However, in an interview with Daily Sun in Ago-Iwoye, Oba Adenugba debunked Mrs Onakoya’s claims. Although he admitted the murder of the varsity staffer, the monarch washed his hands clean of the act.

The Oba explained that when the matter was brought to his knowledge after returning from his trip, he had to hand over all suspects to the police for investigation and prosecution.
The traditional ruler said even though his vigilante group went out of bounds, "they have never detained anyone in my palace, not to talk of killing within my premises. They don’t even operate in the palace, they only have their office within the local government secretariat which shares the same fence wth the palace so that the palace can look expansive and befitting.

"It was the students that reported the deceased to the vigilante group. The complaint was that the deceased was given money to change their results for them. But when the results were eventually released, the students realised the results did not favour them. And they demanded for the refund of their money from the deceased. Then the case was reported to the police and he was detained and later released on bail.

"But the students who were not satisfied with the turn of events went to collude with somebody in the town who happened to be a member of the vigilante group. They wanted him to use his influence to effect the refund of their money from the deceased.
"When the crisis was on, I was not around. I travelled out. But when I came back, I summoned the security officer. And he told me he saw the students, the deceased and the vigilante members under a certain tree. Then he demanded to know the identity of the deceased and his mission under that tree.
"The security officer said he was briefed about how he collected money from the students and how he also denied ever collecting any money. Having briefed the security officer, the deceased then said that after the police handling of the case, students started threatening his life and that he was not feeling safe any longer.

"Upon hearing that, the security officer called the deceased’s wife aside and admonished her to prevail on the husband to refund the students’ money if that could cool down tension. He also advised the deceased to be in protective custody with the security outfit till the second day when the other aggrieved students would be contacted and warned to let peace reign. The two parties were said to have agreed to that wise counsel.

"Then at night, I think the deceased decided to sneak out and escape. In that process, he ran into other night guards who were not privy to the arrangement and consensus of the two parties and they started chasing him shouting, ‘Thief! thief! thief!’ He was eventually caught. He was truly hit with cutlass, and gave up at the end of the day.

"My name was dropped to invite the deceased. So I said the security officer, the man that reported the case to me as well as all the night guards that were on duty that night should be arrested. I called the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) to effect their arrest and all of them were arrested and taken to the police station to make statements.

"At the end of the day, they were transferred to the state headquarters, Eleweran, Abeokuta, where they spent close to three weeks. Eventually they were charged to court.
Even earlier, the police had investigated and they have known who really killed the man. Even the killer had himself confessed. I decided that they should be moved to Eleweran to prevent my name from being spoilt. At the end of the day, those who were not involved were exonerated while the rest were taken to court. Till now, the guy that committed the offence is still in detention at Ijebu-Ode."

On the allegation that the killing was done in the palace, the Oba said: "First of all, you have seen the palace and you have seen where I occupy. It is a pity I share my palace with the local government plot. The vigilante group’s office is an abandoned block of the Secretariat and not my palace. But we share the same fence to make the palace look attractive.
"So, if the vigilante invite anybody to their office, it would appear as if it is in the palace. And again, you know the name of the king is usually used to start a war in Yoruba parlance. You can see yourself that the colour of the palace fence is white while the other one is yellow."

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