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Jungle justice: How 22-year-old man was killed for offence he didn’t commit

I want justice for my innocent brother – Sister

If Olamide Omolegbe, a 22-year-old tricyclist, had known the cruel fate that would befall him on Monday, July 8, 2019, he would have had a re-think about going out that day.

As a well-trained child, who took his family as priority, Omolegbe had left his GRA Abidjan, Ajah residence on the fateful day to visit his parents and sisters, who live on Catholic Mission Street, New Road, Ajah.

The Nigerian Xpress gathered that it was customary for Omolegbe, to bring money and foodstuffs to his family, at least, twice a month.

On getting to his parents’ house, Omolegbe was told by his sisters that their father had gone to work in Epe while their mother had an urgent call because of  which she had to travel to Togo.

Concerned that his teenage sisters were the only ones at home, he had volunteered to spend some days with them, pending the return of their father.

Later that day, Omolegbe had excused himself from home to go and visit some of his friends in the area. It was in the course of his visit that he was accused of stealing a mobile phone.

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Investigation by The Nigerian Xpress revealed that the 22-year-old had while visiting his friends at the ghetto, close to the abandoned Badore Ferry Terminal, plugged his Music Player (MP) to charge, in a shop where a woman, Bolanle Muhammed, sells alcoholic beverages.

Shortly after he had unplugged his MP, a phone was declared missing by the shop owner, who was quick to accuse him of stealing the phone.

Like wild animals, waiting for a prey to devour, touts in the ghetto, led by Wahab Wasiu, had quickly mobilised to the scene, tortured, lynched Omolegbe and even threw his remains into the lagoon.

The missing phone was, however, later found to have been stolen by the son of Muhammed, the shop owner.

Speaking to the correspondent, sister of the deceased, who identified herself as Rashidat, said the late Omolegbe was the first and the only son of the family.

The distraught sister said there might be more to why the shop owner raised a false alarm that resulted in the gruesome killing of her brother.

According to her, “The day this incident happened, the woman came to our shop to ask my sister if our mother was around; my sister told her she was not. My sister even asked her if there was a problem and she just told her she should not worry, that she would be back.

“Little did we know that our brother was in the lion’s den about to be devoured. It was even much later that my sister’s friend called to say my brother was in trouble that they were beating him up.

“My sister rushed there but did not meet anyone. She even asked and none admitted seing the man they were beating. So, she came back and called my father. On Tuesday, after we could not reach him on phone, some people also came to tell us that they saw him at Badore when a mob was beating him.

“My daddy’s friends also confirmed they saw when boys from Badore were beating my brother, saying he stole a phone. My daddy was angry and asked why his friends could not stop the beating. They said when they tried, the boys threatened to beat them too, some were even injured.

“Someone came to the house and suggested we check the lagoon not too far from where they told us they had beaten him up. We checked there and found nothing. It was on the third day, Wednesday that some people came to call us in the morning that there was a dead body that was found at the seashore at Tarzan, Lagos State Waterways Authority.

“When we got there, it was my brother, he had terrible deep wounds on his head and body. My brother was killed for what he knew nothing about.”

Commenting about the personality of the deceased, Rashidat said her brother was not troublesome but peace-loving.

Asked if she suspects the killing may be cult-related, she said, “We have asked my brother’s friends to know if he was a cultist. Maybe that can justify the way he was killed, but they said he was not. My brother was a calm person. He was a giver, who could go the extra to satisfy us. I miss my brother.

“It was even after his death that his neighbours came to tell us that the Sunday before his visit, he had bought things for his friends and children in his neighbourhood. Little did they know he was close to death.

Rashidat also told the correspondent that she wanted those involved in the killing of her brother to experience same fate.

Speaking in a very low, painful tone, she said, “I want the people that killed my brother to also be tortured the same way they tortured my brother and be thrown into the Lagoon. I want them killed the same way they killed my brother. I want justice for the death of my brother, ” she burst into tears.

The Nigerian Xpress visited the crime scene. It was a slum close to the lagoon. It was also close to the abandoned Badore Ferry Terminal constructed by the former governor, Babatunde Raji Fashola’s administration.

The place had turned into a criminal hideout.  Alcoholic beverages, Indian hemp and other such things are sold there.

An eyewitness, who gave his name simply as Bayo debunked the report that the deceased was killed and thrown into the Lagoon.

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According to Bayo, who confirmed that Omolegbe was wrongly accused of stealing a phone, sid it was the deceased that walked into the Lagoon.  “The boy was beaten terribly. To get the truth from him, the mob dragged him to the lagoon and threatened to throw him into the water.

“While climbing down the staircase, he missed his step and fell into the lagoon. I guess he was also trying to escape from the beating, so he walked further into the water. People even tried to rescue him, but a wave came and it swallowed him. So, the story that he was killed and his body thrown into the lagoon is not true.

“But with the beating the boy got, I doubt if he would have been able to survive it afterwards. The mob used planks, stones and bottles to inflict heavy body injuries on his head and other parts of his body.”

Asked why he and neighbours around did not stop the mob from taking laws into their own hands, Bayo said, “You know these boys that smoke and drink, they always want to do their mind. I tried to stop them and they threatened to beat me up, so I just left them.

“Surprisingly, after the whole drama, the phone was found with the son of the woman, who owns the shop.”

A neighbour who saw when Omolegbe had come to visit his parent told the correspondent that he gathered from a reliable source that the deceased pleaded not to be killed but the mob were bent on wasting him.

The man who did not want his name mentioned said the deceased begged the mob falsely accusing him to take his phone and tricycle, as replacement for the stolen phone,  but they refused.

“To save his life, the boy had begged those wicked people to take his own phone, as replacement for the stolen phone but they refused. He even went further to hand them the key to his tricycle but they also refused.

“They just wanted to kill the young man. The police should investigate more because I strongly believe this is not the first time they are doing such,” he fumed.

It was also gathered that the mother of the deceased, who is still in Togo is yet to be informed of her son’s death.

“The father said he does not want to tell his wife about the death of their only son because she may not be able to bear the pain. So, for now, she is still in Togo and no one has called her to inform her, ” the neighbour said.

The traditional ruler of Badore community, Baale Muraina Jikoki condemned the killing.

The Baale also revealed that Wasiu, who spearheaded the lynching was notorious for bullying people.

“Wasiu is the head of hoodlums in Badore. That Wasiu has been a pain in the neck. This is not the first time he has tried something like this. There was a day he had attempted to lynch a mallam and when the mallam ran to my house I rescued him and warned Wasiu and his gang not to try such again,” he said.

Speaking on the Omolegbe killing, Jikoki said, “I was around that day and my house is also not far from where the incident happened, but nobody reported the matter to me. It was until later that I heard that some persons took laws into their hands and beat up someone to death.

“While on my way to the Langbasa Police Division to report the matter, I saw Wasiu’s brother and I told him what I heard Wasiu and his cohorts had done. His brother said I should not go to the police yet that he would go and find out the truth of the matter and report back to me.

“The man went there and Muhammed, who raised the false alarm, told him there was no need to worry, that the young man had escaped through the lagoon.

“He came back and reported to me. Something sounded fishy. So, I went there myself and confronted the woman. She also told me same. She even said the boy is an Egun boy that he swam through the lagoon and escaped. She told me not to bother to report to the police.

“It was on the second day that we learnt that the body of the boy was found. So, they actually killed the boy and misled me.”

On his expectation from the police on the matter, he said, “The police should deal with those responsible according to the law. Why would anyone take law into their hands.  And that Wasiu, he should be dealt with. I have reported him to almost all the Police Divisions in my domain.

“The surprising aspect is that the boy that was murdered was even their friend. So, whatever the government wants to do to the suspects, they should do to them; they deserve it. Badore is a peaceful village and will not allow anyone to breach the peace we enjoy.”

However, a resident of the area has a different line of thought on the matter. The resident, who gave his name simply as Adekunle, blamed the government for the act.

He said it was because the government failed to put the Badore Ferry Terminal to use, that criminals and hoodlums now seek refuge there.

He said, “Why would a responsible government abandon a project that will benefit the people and allow miscreants to take over the place? If this terminal was operating, we will have police presence and such crime will not be recorded.

“Since Fashola left office as governor, this terminal has been abandoned. Very soon, the building may start cracking because it is not in use. Taxpayers’ money was spent in building this. So, it should be used.

“All the shops around there should also be cleared. If nothing is done to sanitise this place. It is the 22-year-old boy today, nobody knows who next it will be?”

Another resident, who craved for anonymity said the terminal was 70 per cent complete before Fashola left office, but that the last administration by Akinwumi Ambode did nothing to complete the project.

He called on Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu to complete the project, as it will create employment opportunities in the area.

The Lagos State Police Command had confirmed the arrest of five persons over the murder of the deceased.

Wasiu Wahab, Ramon Ibrahim, Junior Adebayo, Yusuf Adegbite and Bolanle Muhammed were all arrested and the case transferred to the State Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department (SCIID), Panti.