Widow bemoans husband’s gruesome murder by land speculators
…A day after son dreamt about his death
By CHIOMA IGBOKWE
Thursday, January 26, 2012
The year, 2011, meant different things to different people and families. For Mrs. Martins, it was a year she would not forget in a hurry. It marked the beginning of psychological torture, arising from the gruesome murder of her husband.
The mother of six had bidden her husband, Dele Martins, goodbye on June 14, 2011, as he left for the site in Ogijo, Ogun State, where he worked as a bricklayer, unknown to her that she was bidding him a final farewell.
Immediately after Dele and his colleagues started work, some hoodlums invaded the area, wielding dangerous weapons such as cutlasses, broken bottles and guns, shooting sporadically as they ordered all the workers to lie faced down. Not done with the harassment, it was gathered that the hoodlums shot some of the workers at close range. Unfortunately, Dele was one of them. He was shot in the chest. The victim could not make it, as he died before reaching the hospital. Another colleague of his, Oluwa Abbey, who was also shot in the chest, died later.
Meanwhile, back home, Mrs. Martins had prepared meal for her husband, awaiting his arrival only to be informed of his tragic death. The widow, who spoke to Crimewatch lamented: “His death has left me shattered. I have been battling with how to cope with raising our six children alone. Though we were not rich, at least, he was able to put food on our table and paid the children’s school fees. He was a faithful husband and loving father.” “If I had listened to one of our children, perhaps, this would not have befallen us. Our son told me he had a dream, a day before the incident, where some people invaded the site where his father was working. I just prayed, believing it would not happen.”
Cuddling her one-year old son, who was just three months when his father died, the woman moaned: “At least, I would have persuaded him to stay at home that day. Rather, what I got later was the news of his death. But for the assistance from the owner of the site, my children would have died of hunger. My last child was barely three months old when the incident happened. The most annoying part of it is the failure of the authorities concerned to bring my husband’s killers to book. His assailants are walking freely. I am, therefore, calling on the Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Hafiz Ringim, to use his good offices to bring the killers to book, even though it would not bring back the dead.”
Mrs. Martins is not alone in her grief. At least, the aged mother of the second victim, Abbey, a security man attached to the site, has also cried her heart out, demanding that justice be done. The woman wondered why none of the suspects had been arrested and brought to justice six months after the dastardly act. Crimewatch gathered that the former Ogun State Police Commissioner, Mr. Musa Daura, was petitioned by the Kew Metal Works, which hired the services of the deceased, mentioning some names as alleged perpetrators of the dastardly act. Not satisfied with the outcome of the investigation, the company again petitioned the Inspector General of Police, and alleged that there were attempts by policemen from Zone-2 to compromise the investigation.
Narrating the root cause of what led to the death of the men, the Managing Director of Kew Metal Works, Mr. Gbenga Erogbogbo, recalled how his father bought over one hundred acres of land, part of which was used to site his factory. He disclosed that in 2004, some people started encroaching on the land, as the factory was temporarily closed down.
“My father approached the elders, who are referred to as Omonile to stop the encroachment. There was no move to stop the encroachment and we headed for the court, where we got an injunction, restraining anybody from working or building on the land. Unfortunately, in 2008, my father died and the encroachment resumed, with the hope that there was no one to continue the fight.
After our father’s death, the family decided to fence the land but there was resistance, as trespassers and the Omonile came to stop us from carrying on with the fencing,” he disclosed. Not wanting to take laws into his hands, Gbenga said he reported the matter at the Ogun State Criminal Investigation Department, Elewe Eran. It was the Command that advised them to take the matter to court. The court, he further stated, gave them a go-ahead to fence the land, pending when they would be ready to start building on it. However, the matter turned bloody when on June 14, 2011, some hoodlums on motorcycles stormed the site while workers were still reporting for duty.
They forced them to lie down and shot them on the chest at close range. The Divisional Police Officer (DPO) personally rushed the injured persons to the hospital. “One of them (Dele Martins) died before reaching the hospital while the second one, Oluwa Shina Abbey, died minutes after reaching Real Hope Hospital, Ita-oluwo. We identified the principal suspects and the police refused to arrest them. Instead, they have been using policemen from Zone-2 to harass us. One of them even boasted that he had IGP’s support since they were friends.”
When it looked like the IGP’s office was the last resort, Gbenga said they took the matter to Force Headquarters, Abuja, where the IGP’s monitoring unit, investigated and found out that murder was actually committed. It was also discovered that there were plots to cover up the crime.
Arrests were made and the suspects detained till December 22, 2011, when an order came that they be released. This confirmed their initial boast that they can easily have their way. To further confirm our suspicion, one of the suspects called on phone, threatening to deal with us. We do not want the murder to be swept under the carpet or for them to come and continue to intimidate us,” Gbenga said.