From Ighomuaye Lucky, Benin
In the early morning of last Saturday, September 4, 2021, gunmen that have laid ambush somewhere at Okada, Edo State, and described by the police as suspected kidnappers, shot at and killed Olajide Felix Sowore, the younger brother of Omoyele Sowore, publisher of SAHARA REPORTERS.
Two days ago, on Thursday, September 9, family, friends, fellow students, acquaintances and wellwishers gathered in his hometown Kiribo, in Ese-Odo Local Government Area of Ondo State, to bid farewell to the 200 level student of Pharmacy at the Igbinedion University, Okada (IUO), Edo State.
But one week after his killing, and two days after his burial, students of Nigeria’s premier private university, have confessed that they are finding it difficult to concentrate on their studies. In a chat with Saturday Sun, they attributed this development to the panic attacks that followed the gruesome killing of Olajide, and the inability of the police to find his killers. Earlier, the Edo State Police Command had, in the wake of his killing, announced a massive manhunt for the alleged killers, in collaboration with local vigilantes.
Assurance by police
Said the police: “It has become very necessary to inform the general public because of the panic that the incident is creating among the general public, especially the residents of Edo State,”the police noted.
“Bush combing has started, the Commissioner of Police has directed the tactical team to put hands together with the Divisional Police Headquarters at Okada for the bush combing. As I speak to you, the local vigilantes in that area, the police tactical team from the state command and the Divisional Police Headquarters at Okada are all together in the bush right now combing the forests in an effort to arrest the assailants and possibly rescue five other persons that are still with the kidnappers.
“Sowore Felix was not one of the occupants of the bus in which some of them were kidnapped. He was just someone that ran into the incident. He was coming and met the situation on ground. The bus actually was coming from the South going towards Lagos. The bus belonged to a private transport company, and broke down at around 2 am in the early hours of Saturday, and the occupants looked for somewhere to sleep.
“That early hour in the morning, the occupants came with the intention to pack their belongings from the bus, but unknown to them, the kidnappers have (sic) laid ambush. And, immediately they opened the bus, the kidnappers came out from the bush and started shooting at the bus in an attempt to create fear in them. But some of them tried to escape. Sowore was coming from Okada to Benin. He was just a victim. The kidnappers tried to stop him, but he refused to stop. The bullet hits (sic) his car and one of the bullets got him, and he died on the spot.”
Pervading fear despite police assurances
Some Igbinedion University students that spoke with Saturday Sun said that the police assurances have done little or nothing to assuage their feelings of insecurity over the circumstance surrounding Olajide’s untimely death.
One of them who gave his name as Yazeed said when he reflects on the way and manner he was killed, he finds it difficult to concentrate on his studies. “When I heard the news of his death, I was thinking that this is the road we pass every day,” he said. “That means it could have happened to me. It could have been me. When I remember how he was killed, I feel insecure. I am here to study. But since I heard the news, I have not been able to concentrate on my studies because of the feelings that I am getting that my life is not secured.”
He also dropped a word of advice for his fellow students. “Please, do not travel unnecessarily unless if it is of utmost importance because, as you can see, not only this road, but no road in Nigeria is safe anymore. You can get killed like a chicken any moment. The government has to do something about this.”
His fellow student, Peter Amos of the Department of Accounting, who described Olajide Sowore’s death as painful, agrees with Yazeed.
“We feel for his family, especially his brother, Omoyole Sowore. It is a painful thing for someone to lose a loved one. But it could have happened to anyone. It could have happened to me because I pass that road from time to time.”
A good man gone home
Although the university was not in full session when our reporter visited the place, he found few students around. On enquiry, they turned out to be final year students of Pharmacy of the institution, who were preparing to sit for an exam. Donning white overall dresses, they clustered around Prof. Dora Akunyili Faculty of Pharmacy, of the university.
Though the students the reporter met on ground did not know him that much because they were not in the same level, they nevertheless expressed their grief on his death. They described it as a big blow not only to the Department of Pharmacy and the university but also to the nation. One of them, named Nwosu John confessed that although he did not know the late Olajide in person, he had just found out about his personality from a close friend. And, he is impressed because from what he learnt, he was an easygoing fellow.
“His course mates are not around because the school is not in full session,” he explained. “We are here because we are final year students and we are just doing our papers. On the day of the incident, after I learnt of it, I sent my condolences to his fellow students. I didn’t really know him personally. Then I asked one of my friends who know him how he is like. And, that was when he told me a lot about him, that he is very quiet and calm.”
A statement issued by the university management not only painted a glowing picture of the deceased in its tribute but also described his death as an “irreparable loss.” “Records available show that late Olajide, while a student, exhibited good conduct and excellent performance in his studies,” it said. “He was such an amiable and mature gentleman, with lots of promise. The entire University community mourns this great loss and also commiserates with the family of late Mr Sowore at this trying moment while praying God to grant them the fortitude to bear this irreparable loss.”
Condolences, and call for strengthening of security
Others who sent condolences include: Governors Godwin Obaseki of Edo State, Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State, Samuel Ortom of Benue State, Yahaya Bello of Kogi, and the Aare Onakakanfo of Yorubaland, Iba Gani Adams. While Obaseki promised to “make all efforts to bring the perpetrators of the dastardly act to justice,” Fayemi counselled that, “it is time security agencies, with the support of the citizens, put an end to this wastage of precious lives.”
Ortom noted that Olajide’s murder “further depicts the worsening security situation across the country.” Bello observed that the 50-year-old man who he said “was making such a remarkable feat at that age, hence (serving) as an inspiration and example of a determined individual should not be allowed to die in vain.
“Evil men carrying out such an act of cowardice on a harmless citizen must be brought to book. No life should be lost in such a barbaric manner.”
Adams who described his death as “suspicious,” and “a reflection of Federal Government’s failure to tackle the security challenges in the country” urged the government to concentrate on finding solution to the security challenges in the country.