By Olakunle Olafioye
Penultimate Friday, An Ikeja High Court sentenced a 27-year-old man, Oluwaseun Oladapo to death by hanging for killing a Lagos based human rights lawyer, Mr. Kunle Fadipe and his mother-in-law, Mrs. Cecilia Owolabi in July 2014. The widow of the deceased, Mrs. Kemi Fadipe, in this interview, recounts the horrifying experience of the night her husband was killed and how the family received the death sentence slammed on his killer.
What was the feeling like when you heard that your husband’s killer had been sentenced to death?
I was very happy when I heard the judgment. Although the judgment cannot bring my late husband back to life, I am happy that justice has been done. With the judgment we are sure that he will not be able to go and kill other innocent people. It is a relief
It is quite surprising that the case was dispensed with in less than three years whereas there are similar cases that have lingered for years. Is it because the deceased was a legal practitioner?
No I don’t think so. I think it is an indication that the judicial system is also bracing up to the challenges of justice dispensation.
What is life like without your husband?
Life has not been easy without him especially when you need to take care of three children. But with God nothing is impossible. God has remained our strength.
While the case lasted did family of the suspect approach you for any favour on behalf of the suspect?
No, not at all; I didn’t see any of his relatives and I don’t even know if they attended court proceedings.
How much do you still remember about that horrifying night?
The incident happened between 3rd and 4th of July, 2014. The intruder came in around 11.00 pm and he was in the house till 4.00am. He was caught around 2.00am while my husband gave up the ghost around 4.00am. Our generator was on that night but when I saw that power supply had been restored I called my son to go and put off the generator. It wasn’t long my husband came in and he was preparing for a seminar in Abuja the following morning. Not long after my son went out we heard his voice shouting that someone had entered our compound. As we were rushing to see what the problem was. We ran into him and the intruder at the staircase.
Was he the only person that came in?
He was the only person but he told us that the house had been surrounded and that if we didn’t cooperate he was going to kill everybody. So we started begging him. But he became agitated claiming that my son had injured him. He stabbed my son outside and that one decided to struggle with him so he was also injured. At that point my husband begged him not kill anybody that he would give him whatever he wanted. At that point he had held all of us hostage at the staircase. So my husband told me to go and bring an envelope from the bedroom. So I went to bring the envelope, it was bulky and I handed it over to the intruder. But when he checked it he said the money was too small that he needed N500,000. Then my husband told him that he didn’t have such money. He later demanded for our phones and laptops. But he became agitated again complaining about the injury he sustained while struggling with my son. Then, he said, “ look at blood all over my body, somebody must die here tonight.” Then my husband told him that nobody would die.
Were you not shouting while this was going at least to alert your neigbours?
We were shouting. But they said they didn’t hear us. Maybe it was because the generator was still on at that time. That day my mother was downstairs; she was in our house because she was billed to undergo eye surgery the following day. So when the intruder asked for laptop and phones my husband told that they were downstairs. As we were going, he started attacking my son again. My husband started begging him and told him that he was his father and that he had been cooperating with him so there was no need dealing with the boy again. I think that was the time he realised that my husband was the person he was looking for.
Did you suspect him to be a hired assassin?
He said he was not an assassin even in spite the torture he was given he didn’t mention anybody’s name. He said he was a lone ranger.
What about the security personnel in the estate?
We have both day and night guards but I can’t really say what happened that day. But the boy confessed that he had been around since day time.
That particular incident was a double tragedy on your side considering the fact that you lost your husband and your mother (cuts in)…
No, the incident claimed three lives. My husband died, my mother died two weeks later, then my mother-in-law died. My husband was the last born of the family and being the last child he was very close to his mother. My husband used to visit his mother almost on daily basis because our house was not far from hers. Then on Sundays, all of us would go there. That was where we used to have our lunch then. When my husband died we couldn’t tell his mother. Initially we told her that my husband traveled. But when we discovered that we could not sustain that lie I told her that he had an accident that he could neither speak nor recognize anybody and that he had been flown abroad. But it seemed she did not believe us. We kept his son’s death for three months until my mother-in-law died due to the trauma of not seeing his son. It was really a traumatic experience.
How have you been coping with having to raise your children alone?
It is not an easy task especially when you have to deal with boys and a girl who was so attached to his dad. It has not been easy. In fact, I can’t wish my enemy to suffer a similar fate. But I thank God for my husband because he taught me how to fish. If he had not taught me I don’t how I would have been coping in his absence.
How has death of your husband affected his law chambers in anyway?
His chamber has been moving on. The lady that left here moments ago is the head of the chambers. Thank God for everybody working in the chambers, none of them has left since my husband died.
What was the feeling like anytime you saw your husband’s killer in the court?
I only saw him twice. And on those occasions I felt like killing him. But I just had to restrain myself.
Did you have any premonition about your husband’s death?
I can remember that my second son had a dream in which he said he saw that his father had an accident and that he saw him in the pool of his own blood. He even mentioned the date. According to him, he said the date as he saw it in his dream was 16th day of the month although he didn’t mention the month. Strangely enough, that was the date my husband was buried. Because he was a small boy we didn’t take it seriously. But there was a day my husband wanted to travel and he asked us the day my son said he dreamt that he died in auto accident. When we told him that it was on 16th he decided to suspend his journey till the following week. Can you believe that it was the same Tunmise that eventually saw his father in his own pool of blood? After we were able to overpower the intruder, we sent him and his brother to call the estate guards it was on his way back that he saw his father on the floor because he had lost so much blood. He kept calling us to come and help his father but we couldn’t leave the criminal to escape until the estate security guards we sent for arrived.
At what point did you regain the courage to attack?
That was when he stabbed my mother. In fact, we didn’t know that he had stabbed my husband before then. It was when he stabbed my mother that we had the feeling that he wanted to kill everybody. So courageously decided to face him.