The heart-breaking story of how Anuoluwapo Martins, a 36-year old psychiatric patient, who was mistaken for a ritualist and burnt to death by an irate mob in Ilesha, Osun state, would evoke pity even among ‘demons’. The incident, which happened on March 24, 2019, at a time Nigerians and the rest of the world were awaiting the outcome of the Presidential election, had since sent the entire Ilesha community into panic.
That fateful day, the victim woke up at the healing home in Ile-Ife where she was receiving care without any knowledge of the danger that laid in wait for her. Thirty-six-year-old and six months pregnant at the time, the young lady was gruesomely murdered by an irate mob around the city centre of Ilesha. A young man had accused her of stealing his manhood. After giving the mentally-unstable woman N50 following a request from her, the young man in question soon raised an alarm that Martins had magically stolen his penis to use for rituals. Rounded up by a blood-thirsty mob, Martins, a former student of Osun State College of Technology, had no chance of an escape. Soon fed up with her incoherent explanations, the mob decided to deliver its verdict. Eventually adjudged guilty of the offence, the 36-year-old was condemned to death. Stones, metals and sticks – everything rained heavily on her before her blood-stained body was finally set on fire. It was a cruel and painful way to die for a lady regarded by family and friends as ‘brilliant’ and ‘smart’.
In the video of the brutal execution circulating on the Internet, accusers of the lady could be seen calling her all sorts of derogatory names while molesting her violently. Sporting a clean-shaven head, blood could be seen coming out of her face. The scenes in the clip leaves a chill down the spine.
Speaking with Saturday PUNCH, elder sister of the deceased, Ikeoluwa, explained that Martins wasn’t a ritualist but a psychiatric patient, who sneaked out of a healing home in Ile-Ife to visit her at Ijebu-Jesa when she was killed. According to her, the victim had been mentally unstable since 2011.
“On the day she was killed, I believe that Anuoluwapo was coming to Ijebu-Jesa to see me. She was obviously stranded after exhausting the little money on her for transportation.
“She didn’t have a phone. We bought many phones for her in the past but after using it for some time, she would lose it. So, we decided not to buy her a phone again.
“The week before the Saturday the Presidential election was held, I felt like seeing her but because of the tension across the state at the time, I decided not to travel. She must have felt like seeing me too, because I didn’t visit her for some time.
“Anu could have gotten assistance after she had arrived Ilesha safely but my friend that sells mobile phones and accessories at the Roundabout Area, who could have helped her with some money to transport herself to my house in Ijebu-Jesa, didn’t open for business that day being a Sunday.
“My sister obviously resorted to begging just to get money and transport herself to where I was when someone raised a false alarm claiming that she had used juju to seize his manhood.
“I got to know of her death on the Internet when the video was posted online by some people.
“If she had been beaten and handed over to the police, that would have been better. But without thorough investigation, she was mercilessly beaten up, brutalised and burnt to death. I am yet to come over the shock.
“When I saw the video and how many Internet users were celebrating how she was murdered having believed that she truly committed the crime she was accused of, I immediately took several shots of her picture and posted it online with the explanation that she was wrongly accused. But the damage had been done.
“Anu was in 300 level in Lead City University, Ibadan, studying Mass Communication when her mental crisis started.
“She had earlier obtained a National Diploma in Business Administration from the Osun State College of Technology, Esa Oke.
“It is not as if she lost her sanity completely, many times, she would respond correctly to questions but at times, she would not be normal.
“If you watch the video, she got her name and hometown correctly but contrary to what she said, she entered Ilesha few hours before her death, she sneaked out of the healing home,” she said.
Speaking further, the victim’s sibling revealed how they sold their house to take care of Martins’ psychiatric treatment and how the buyer has refused to pay the balance of the property. According to her, the death of the 36-year-old lady had compounded the family’s troubles.
“Our father is late while our mother just retired from service. To treat my sister’s condition, we sold our father’s house in Ile-Ife even though the buyer had not paid us completely.
“We have spent almost all we have on her treatment. We had planned to use proceeds of the property we sold for her treatment.
“She was six months pregnant when she was killed by the mob. We had hoped she would get relieved when she delivers.
“Her death has really devastated us because she was very brilliant. If you listened to her speak, you would like her. Her level of intelligence was far above her age. It is unfortunate that her life was cut short in such a cruel manner,” she said.
Ikeoluwa, who heads a church in Ijebu-Jesa, lamented that some people in the area after she came out to identify with her late sister, had been insinuating that the deceased was truly a ritualist, who was working for her. She urged the police to ensure diligent prosecution of those already arrested in connection with the crime so as to discourage others from taking laws into their hands.
Findings by revealed that two people arrested in connection with the crime had been arraigned before an Osun State High Court sitting in Ilesha. The suspects, Adesoji Taiwo, age 24, who claimed his manhood was seized by the deceased and 34-year-old Oladejo Toyin, were arrested by the police following a complaint lodged by the elder sister of the deceased at “A” Division, Ilesha on February 27. The two men have been remanded in prison following the adjournment of the case to May 6.
Commenting on the incident, spokesperson for the Osun State Police Command, SP Folasade Odoro, advised members of the public to desist from engaging in jungle justice, warning that the police would ensure anyone caught in such an act faced the full weight of the law.
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