How breadwinner was killed in Ekiti land dispute

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By  Rotimi Ojomoyela

A THREE year-old land  dispute between Ayede and Itaji communities in Oye Local Government Area of Ekiti State, has finally claimed a victim, Seyi Oladipupo, a 44 year-old farmer and father of four, a situation that has placed his young family in state of agony.

Seyi was shot dead by a yet to be identified chief from Orisumbare community, who escaped the moment the deed was done. The wife of the deceased, Mrs. Oladipupo Folake, 35, told Vanguard that the alleged killer of her husband has thrown the family into downward spiral of grief and mourning.

The sad news: Narrating how she learned about her husband’s death, the young widow, who fought back tears intermittently, said, “I was at the sawmill doing my petty trading, buying and reselling some fire wood, when the director of the sawmill suddenly drove down to the sawmill that day and asked one Okada man to take me home, saying there seems to be some trouble in Ayede.

• Family of the late Oladipupo

“So I went with the man but while we were near the general hospital in Ayede, my husband’s elder sister called to inform me that my husband was wounded with a gunshot and had been rushed to the general hospital.

So I headed straight to the hospital and when I got there I became very anxious when I saw many people there and demanded to see him but the nurses there said he wasn’t in a condition where I could see him. A nurse actually felt concerned with the way I was behaving at the hospital and took me behind the doors to see him. He was shot below his groin and had lost a lot of blood.

The burden and urgent need for help: “We have four children, our first born is about 15 years old  now and in secondary school. The last is just about two years old. My husband has been single-handedly taking care of all of us because I don’t have a job. I have school certificate and also completed a grade 11 teaching programme but because I haven’t got a job, I have been fetching fire wood at the sawmill to sell.

“I  make very little money doing that and that was why all the family responsibility was shouldered by my late husband. Now that the whole responsibility of taking care of the four children has become mine, I need urgent help from the government and other well-meaning people so I can take care of these children.”

Demand for justice: Folake, the young widow described her husband as a peace loving person, who could never hurt a fly, and wondered why such cruelty could be visited on her family, she said the security agents must do all they can to bring the assailant of her husband to justice. “I also want the government to ensure that my late husband gets justice. This is an unjust killing and the government should ensure he gets justice so that his soul can rest peacefully,”  she said.

Premonition about husband’s death: “That morning before my husband went out, I had asked him if he would eat pounded yam and he agreed. I told him I didn’t feel like eating pounded yam and he gave me money for my breakfast. I had prepared our children and they went to school.

While I was peeling the yam, he told me that he was searching for something in our wardrobe and also informed me that the community had sent them on an errand. He didn’t tell me the details of the errand. He appeared to be in a hurry and was rushing to get what he was looking for.

“The moment he told me that the community had sent them on an errand I became very disturbed and something within me told me to dissuade him from going and I called him by his daughter’s name, saying Baba Deola, please don’t go to the place, my heart says you shouldn’t go. But he didn’t say anything. So I continued peeling the yam.

Premonition and prayer for husband

“After a while, I heard him kick start  his motorbike and he was gone. I still felt that premonition about where he was going and I prayed for him. I eventually prepared the pounded yam for him and set the table so that he could eat whenever he returned but I never knew that would be the last time I would see him.”

Government must punish the killer of my son

The octogenarian father of the deceased, Pa Babatunde Oladipupo, agonised over over the killing of his son, told Vanguard that government must punish the killer of his son. “Please tell government to punish the killer of my first-born and only one who has been taking care of me since I lost my wife.”

According to th deceased’s aunt, Mrs. Abejide Comfort, last frantic efforts to save the deceased by rushing him to the Federal Medical Hospital, Ido-Ekiti, failed because she could not reach other relatives on time. She described the deceased as easy-going and a gentle man. “He didn’t have time for any idleness, he was the first-born of his father. And it took a lot of time after their marriage before his parents had him. His aged father, Pa Babatunde Oladipupo, is still in shock about his death. The octogenarian is still finding it difficult to believe he has lost Seyi, his first-born.

“Seyi was the only one taking care of his aged father as he and his family have been living with the aged father. We plead with the government to kindly get a job for his widow so that she could take care of their young children,” he said.

First son of the deceased, master Oladipupo Seyitan, who is in JSS two in Ayede Grammar School, recalled that his father had vowed to assist him become a soldier in future by sponsoring his education to that effect.  “Now that he is being killed, I don’t know who will help me become a soldier in future,”  the young boy lamented.

How it all started: Meanwhile, since the killing of Seyi a pall of darkness and ominous silence has descended on the two communities of Ayede and Itaji. The two towns which are about 45 minutes drive from the state capital, Ado-Ekiti, have been under security siege, as a detachment of policemen were seen guarding the Onitaji palace which is barely two kilometres to Ayede town.

Oladipupo was allegedly shot on Egan farmland, a land which has been a subject of three-year dispute between Itaji and Ayede communities. The deceased had led a team of youths assigned by the Attah of Ayede, Oba Mumuni Orisagbemi, on the morning of January 31, to remove some poles allegedly erected on their land by the people of Itaji.

Speaking with Vanguard, one of the youth leaders in Ayede, Segun Ajayi, described the erection of the pole on their land as a clear breach of the boundary line, stressing that the act enraged the youth of Ayede, who marched to the palace of Oba Orisagbemi to register their protest.

He said the monarch ordered the team of youths to remove the poles which was seen as an encroachment on their own land by the people of Itaji.

Ajayi claimed that the chief who shot Seyi, allegedly now at large, had invaded them on Egan land while after they had removed the poles. He said,“Seyi and I usually lead others to the land when issues like that arises. We had been told to find out about the land five days earlier.

We were not sent to go and fight anybody but were instructed to remove some poles the people of Itaji had erected on our portion of the land. We were not also armed. We got to the place and removed the poles encroaching on our portion of the land as we were instructed.

“It was then some boys came around and they were escorted by policemen. Those were the people who had used the poles to encroach on our land. So we were deliberating on how we would all come to our monarch to resolve the issues and how the police would escort us to the town.

That was when a chief of Orisumbare came, armed. I was the first to tackle him, I reminded him that the land in dispute was between Ayede and Itaji and did not concern him who hails from Orisumbare town. He replied me by saying I should be silent and that he was on his land which was given him by the monarch of Itaji, Oba Adama Babalola.

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