The parents of the deceased, Mr. and Mrs Fasere
Two weeks after he was allegedly murdered by the police, the aged parents of Oluwaseyi Fasere, a student of the University of Ado Ekiti, are seeking justice for their slain son, writes Toba Suleiman
He had no inkling that death was lurking around the corner when he stepped out of the house on Thursday, 28 February 2013. He was said to have been hale and hearty; full of life and energy, when he woke up in the morning, but soon life was snuffed out of him.
Perhaps, if he had known that the journey of that penultimate Thursday would be his last journey on earth, he would not have embarked on such a journey of no return.
As usual, Joseph Oluwaseyi Fasere, a 400-level student of the Ekiti State University (EKSU), Ado-Ekiti, woke up very early at home to engage in his usual habit of assisting his parents with the menial jobs they were doing to generate income for the family, not only to feed, but also to pay his school fees. But the day that began with joy ended with sorrow.
For almost two weeks, after the alleged killing of their son, by the police, parents of the deceased are yet to recover from the shock, as they continue to groan and mourn the sudden death of their son.
At their residence located within the precinct of the serene community of Ilupeju-Ekiti in Oye-Ekiti Local Government area of Ekiti State, the parents, Mr and Mrs Joseph Fasere keep asking rhetorically who killed Seyi? This question has however not been answered by the police.
The deceased, popularly called Seyi, a 400-level, Business Administration student according to an eye witness account, was allegedly shot dead by the police.
Still in a pensive mood, the deceased mother, a 60-year-old, Mrs. Florence Fasere while narrating her ordeal to newsmen in Ado-Ekiti, said she wanted the Inspector General of Police (IG), Alhaji Mohammed Abubakar to investigate the alleged extra-judicial killing of her son by the police.
Lamenting how her only son was murdered in cold blood by the police operating at the Oye-Ekiti police station, Mrs Fasere alleged that Seyi was killed by the police just to score a cheap point after an unsuccessful raid on robbers recently around the area.
It was learnt, according to an eye witness account, that the robbers had caused a serious panic in the town, they fired sporadic gunshots into the air to scare people off.
Mrs Fasere, in company with her 65-year- old husband explained that Seyi, who was running a part –time programme at the institution until his death was travelling in a commercial vehicle with some people , when they ran into a gang of robbers at the neighbouring Oye Ekiti town.
She lamented that her son, who they all looked up to in the family, came from school earlier in the week to collect his school fees in preparation for his second semester examination and was to travel back in the evening when he met his sudden death.
According to her, “ not quite long, after Seyi left home for school that information filtered into the community that there was a robbery incident at Oye, and that some of the people travelling along that route have been caught in a crossfire between the police and armed gang.”
She disclosed that it was a woman, a 72-year-old neighbour, Mrs Victoria Bobaola Adewuyi, who was one of the occupants in the same vehicle with Seyi that first broke the sad news of the incident to them.
She was said to have put a phone call across to Seyi’s mother, asking them to organise a search party for the boy since she could no longer trace him following the incident which had caused passengers to run for safety.
Mrs Fasere alleged that a police officer known as ‘Akobi-Esu’, who is serving at the Police Station, had boasted that he pulled the trigger that ended Seyi’s life, having been apprehended and wrongly identified as a member of the dreaded robbery gang that robbed the bank on that day.
According to the bereaved mother, her late son was not only tortured and killed by the police, but the sum of N100, 000 that was given to him as school fees and two handsets were removed from his pockets.
She disclosed further that after searching for Seyi throughout that Thursday night but to no avail, they went back home, until the following day, Friday when they decided to go back to the police station.
She insisted that her son was killed at the police station on Friday’s morning and was taken to the bush, after his arrest from where he was hiding, to create an impression that he was a robber.
While exonerating her son of complicity in the robbery operation that took place in the bank, the deceased mother said, the police only killed him for nothing.
She explained that, “It was sad and bad for the police to have caught Seyi where he was hiding, tied his hands and detained him from Thursday till Friday before killing him just to create the impression that they had caught a robber. They even spread the news into town that he was a member of the robbery gang.
But on the second day, a heavy rain fell and the robber, who sustained injury during the gun duel was flushed out from under the culvert where he was hiding before the police now realised that Seyi was killed for nothing and now they want to cover up.”
Mrs Fasere added that the injured robber, who is now receiving treatment at the Federal Medical Centre (FMC), Ido Ekiti also disclosed that all the members of the gang were from Kogi State and that Seyi was not a member.
The old woman, who looked frail and dejected when she was narrating the incident last week, expressed regret that the deceased while alive assisted the family by engaging in menial jobs such as breaking of palm kernels, and other petty trading from where his school fees were being paid.
Besides, she lamented how the police also tortured her and her old husband,putting them behind the bar that Friday until the evening before they could let them off the hooks, accusing them of being the parents of a notorious armed robber.
Also, in her account of the incident, the 72-year-old woman, who witnessed the whole event as an occupant of the vehicle in which Seyi travelled before his untimely death, explained how the three occupants of the vehicle had to run into the bush, when the incident occurred.
She noted that while inside the bush, they lied faced-down for about 45 minutes before the gunfire between the police and the robbers subsided.
According to Mrs Adewuyi , who corroborated Mrs Fasere’s story, the deceased was never a member of the robbery gang. She said he was just a victim of circumstance, adding that she boarded the same car with Seyi before they ran into the robbery gang.
When newsmen visited the Ilupeju country home of the deceased’s father, Pa Joseph Fasere, scores of sympathisers were still trooping to the house to commiserate with the bereaved family.
Among the sympathisers, who spoke with newsmen described the deceased as a very gentle, calm and responsible young man.
The sympathiser, who described the deceased as a promising young man, insisted that the police’s claim that Seyi was an armed robber was a lie.
At the deceased home where mourners gathered they cursed the police and comforted the deceased aged parents.
When contacted, the Police Public Relations Officer of the State Police Command, Mr Victor Babayemi , who confirmed the report, said the police was able to smash the robbery operation owing to ingenuity of his men.
Babayemi, an Assistant Superintendent of Police, added that Seyi ‘s corpse was discovered in the bush the second day when his men combed the scene of the incident, thereby dispelling the insinuation that he was arrested and shot by his men to cover up.
The PPRO insisted that Seyi still remained a suspected member of the robbery gang pending the conclusion of the investigation.
According to him, "One of the robbers who was shot and arrested said he could not identify Seyi because he was not among the team that attacked the bank.”
Babayemi, in a statement made available to newsmen in Ado-Ekiti, said the robber agreed that he was part of the team which attacked the bank.
According to the statement, the robber also explained that their gang leader recruited them separately, “so we do not know if he was one of the robbers or he was caught in the crossfire.”
However, the story has recently taken another dimension with the intervention of members of the National Association of Nigeria Students (NANS), Ekiti axis calling on the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Abubakar to wade into the incident and ensure that the case was not swept under the carpet under the guise of investigation.
Besides, the Chairman of the NANS /JCC in the axis, Mr. Damilare Bewaji, also charged the Federal Government to set up a panel of enquiry to investigate the gruesome murder of the Business Administration student.
According to a statement in Ado Ekiti by the NANS Chairman, who described the murder as unjust, bestial and inhuman, the students’ body had investigated the matter thoroughly without Seyi found culpable contrary to the police insistence that he was a member of a robbery gang.
The statement said the killing had attested to the level of incivility and irresponsibility on the part of the Nigeria Police Force.
Specifically, NANS called for a serious sanction against a ’notorious’ police officer known as ‘Akobi Esu’, who is attached to Oye-Ekiti Divisional Police Station over his statement that he actually pulled the trigger that snuffed life out of the late student.
The students’ body also called on the human rights groups across the world and the Nigeria Bar Association to rise up in defence of the family of the slain student, so that the matter would not end the way of other extra-judicial killings that had been committed by the Police in the country.