It’s the third day of August in 2020, and another Nigerian in his prime has been killed.
His name? Taiwo Ayomide.
Who killed him? A drunk policeman.
Why? The police officer hit him with a gun on the head because after the police man demanded a bribe, all Ayomide had to offer was 50 naira.
You see, Ayomide was not from a rich home. Even in 2019 after completing his tailoring training, he was unable to celebrate his graduation with a ceremony where the sponsors and teacher would pray for him and fully induct him into the craft, as was customary. There was no money to do that.
As a first child raised by a single mother, Yemisi, who is a smallholder farmer, Ayomide tilled the soil in a remote village to raise money for his graduation ceremony and buy sewing tools to kickstart his career as an independent tailor.
He had a Jincheng motorcycle he rode whenever he visited his mother in Iragbiji. In early August 2019, Ayomide returned home to work with his trainer for a while.
“He even brought me a keg of palm oil,” said Popoola Adebayo, Ayomide’s trainer.
The police officers on the road between Iragbiji and Ibokun, both in Osun state, had a culture of extorting travellers. Yemisi, Ayomide’s mother, knew this and had given her son several notes of N50 to give to the police at the checkpoints on the road.
On August 3, 2020, Ayomide was riding on this route with his younger brother, Oladimeji Wasiu, when he was stopped by the police at Ilahun village, along Ibokun. He was asked for a bribe as his mother predicted but when he offered the police N50, it was rejected.
According to Oladimeji, who witnessed the event, the impatient and drunk Inspector Ago Egharevbe suddenly hit Ayomide with a gun on his head. That strike led to internal bleeding. Ayomide later died after spending five days at the Ladoke Akintola University of Technology (LAUTECH) Teaching Hospital in Osogbo, Osun State. He was 20 years old at that time.
“As he was bleeding through the nose, the oxygen mask was sending the blood back into his head,” Adebayo, his trainer, said. “He was only breathing but never opened his eyes until he passed on.”
A hard worker
Popoola Adebayo remembers Ayomide for his zeal towards work. “He was a rare kind of apprentice I can never have again,” Adebayo says. “That kind of luck only comes once. He pushed everyone beyond limits to meet deadlines and motivated his colleagues and me.”
Real Justice Is Missing
The police officer who killed the 20-year-old was dismissed from the Force and charged to court to face the full wrath of the law.
The case is stalled before the Federal High Court in Osogbo, says Popoola, who attends the trials on behalf of the bereaved mother. “Normally, the police prosecutor would call us whenever there is a hearing but no one is inviting us again at the moment,” he said.
The last time in court, on February 22, 2021, the police had told them to “let bygone be bygone” since the culprit had been dismissed.
But, Yemisi, Ayomide’s mother, wants justice beyond the dismissal of the erring officer.
And she is yet to retrieve the corpse of her dead son.
“Ever since, I have not been able to access the remains of my son. The police want us to drop the case in court before giving the order to release the corpse,” she said.
“I am not ready to withdraw the case until justice is served. If you go back to that same road my son was killed, they only changed the police officers. The police are still there to extort road users. We are tired of all that.”
A companion gone
For Yemisi, Ayomide’s departure means she has lost her one and only real companion. She lost her husband a few months after Ayomide was born on September 8, 2000.
“Whenever I sat alone to think about loneliness, he would come to pet me and assure me of becoming all that I would ever wish for in a father and son,” she said of her deceased son.