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Widow seeks justice for husband at Lagos Judicial Panel of Inquiry

A widow, Mrs Tolulope Openiyi has told the Lagos State Judicial Panel of Inquiry for Restitution for Victims of SARS Related Abuses and Other Matters that a policeman who was responsible for shooting her husband has till date not been held accountable.

The petitioner identified the policeman as Jide Akinola with Force Number -32405 of the Sabo Police Station, Yaba Lagos.

Led in evidence by her lawyer, Mr Babatunde Adefila, she alleged that Akintola shot her husband Mr Olusegun Openiyi to death while he was on his way home from work.

Giving a narration of how her husband died, Tolulope said her late spouse was a staff of Celtel now known as Airtel and had left the family home on August 19, 2007 in his official car to go to the University of Lagos (UNILAG) on a work assignment.

“On his way back, he was stopped by the police, he probably had an argument with them and they shot at his tires.

“They forced the door open, dragged him out and shot him at close range on the left side of his chest.

“When they realised he was an innocent man, he was taken to the Military Hospital, Yaba, Lagos where he gave up the ghost and his corpse was transferred to the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH) where he was identified as an unknown person,” she said.

She said that in the aftermath of Olusegun’s passing, an autopsy was conducted at LASUTH and the result of the examination of the corpse revealed that he died from gunshot injuries.

She said her father-in-law, Mr Michael Openiyi who was present at the panel, had petitioned the Lagos Commissioner of Police and the Inspector-General of Police and that the news of her spouse’s passing was also published in the newspapers.

“Jide was initially arrested and detained for a while but he was later released. He was never charged to court.

“The police did not do anything when the incident happened and they also did nothing about the petitions.

“My husband was buried by family and friends at the Iperu Cemetery at Ogun State on Aug. 23, 2007. The police tried sweeping the matter under the carpet,” she said.

Tolulope who became emotional, narrated that ever since Olusegun’s passing, life has been very difficult for the family. She said that she lost her husband two-years after they got married.

She noted that he left behind two daughters – Ayomide Openiyi who was two-years and two-months old and Teniola Openiyi who was just two-weeks old.

The children now 15 and 13-years-old respectively, were present at proceedings.

“Life has been very hard for me for 13-years. I cry everyday and it is taking the grace of God for me and the children to survive.

“I live in a rented apartment and I’ve been given a quit notice because I’ve been owing two-years worth of rent. I live in fear because anytime I can be evicted from the house.

“Since January the children have been at home because I do not have money for their school fees.

“My husband was a generous man and a caring husband, he was the breadwinner of the family. He had working at Celtel for about four or five years before we met,” she said.

Tolulope said that her requests were that the police officer responsible for her husband’s demise be held accountable for his alleged actions and that her children be adequately compensated for the loss of their father.

While being cross-examined by counsel for the Nigerian Police, Mr Cyril Ejiofor, she told the court that Michael her father-in-law had petitioned the police over her husband’s death.

She said that she was unaware of any ballistics tests being carried out on the bullet used to kill her husband.

She insisted that the police shot her husband and that the police never paid her family a condolence visit.

Contributing the deceased father, Michael who was an ex-soldier in his testimony told the panel that he had been invited by Mr Samuel Olukayode, the Divisional Police (DPO) of the Sabo Police Station on Aug. 20, 2007 a day after his son’s passing.

He said that Olukayode had informed him that his son had been shot and killed by Akintola and that the corpse had been deposited at the mortuary.

While being cross-examined by the police lawyer, he said that he was unaware that there is also a military base in Yaba, Lagos the area his son was allegedly killed. He however insisted that the police had shot his son.

He had also said that he had approached human rights lawyer, Mr Festus Keyamo (SAN) to take up their case but it was dropped by the SAN due to their inability to pay his legal fees.

Wahab Akinlade

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