I’m traumatised, haven’t seen my husband’s corpse in nine months – Widow of land agent allegedly killed in police custody

Olabisi is the wife of Mr Adeyemi Taiwo, a land agent who allegedly died in police custody in Lagos after being accused of planning to kidnap a monarch in the Ikorodu Council Development Area. She talks to GODFREY GEORGE about the controversy surrounding his death

What is your name?

My name is Mrs Olabisi Taiwo. The deceased, Mr Adeyemi Taiwo, was my husband. We have been married for over 12 years with two lovely boys. One is 12; the other is seven.

Can you recall how you received the news of your husband’s death?

On September 4, 2020, my husband left home and didn’t return. He told me he was going to a worksite, where one of his friends, who I later got to know was Olufemi Animashaun, was. Femi was roofing a house in Isiu community, Ikorodu, Lagos. Because my husband was a real estate agent and developer, his friend had called him to join him to visit the building site.

At about 11am, just a few hours after he left, I got a call from my brother-in-law asking me where I was. I told him I was at home. He came down to my house and told me that my husband had been killed. For a moment, I didn’t understand what he was saying because it was just a few hours after he left home. I know people die. But what did he do to warrant being killed? “Who killed him? What did he do?” I asked him. It was all like a dream, I must say.

Did you see your husband’s body?

I told him to take me to where I would see my husband. I was already set to go look for him, but he told me to calm down a bit, that the place would be crowded as of that time. I didn’t want to listen to anyone; all I wanted to see was my husband, dead or alive. He calmed me down and made sure I didn’t go out. I was still worried but managed to stay put, so as not to put myself in harm’s way. My children would need someone to care for them and could not lose both parents on the same day.

I got a call after two hours, informing me that my husband was not dead, but was badly injured. I kept asking, “What did he do?” But nobody was willing to say anything meaningful. I thought they’d take him to hospital, at least, to treat his wounds and to make sure he was fine. Later on, on further probe, I found out that one policeman, whose name was given as Lati, arrested him and his friend, Femi, at the site.

Did the policeman take your husband to the police station despite the injuries he sustained?

Yes, he did. I, too, wondered, ‘If someone is injured, are you not supposed to take him to a hospital first?’ I couldn’t understand what was going on. Everything seemed vague. My husband went to help a friend out and, the next thing he knew, he was badly injured and was in the police net?

Did you enquire about the circumstances surrounding his injuries?

Well, I was not there, but from what I was told, he was mobbed by residents who accused him of attempting to kidnap a monarch. Others said it was a vigilante group, Oyabo, that arrested him and handed him over to Lati, the police officer, who in turn, took him to their Ladegboye station, where they were tortured so that they could agree to have committed a crime. The stories don’t add up, but I know my husband didn’t do anything he was accused of. He couldn’t harm a fly. He operated a legitimate business, so I am amazed to hear these stories about him.

Did you visit the police station?

His brother, sister, and I went to Ladegboye station in Ikorodu and the officers on duty told us that he was not there. I was surprised. I pleaded with them to let me see my husband, but they told me that he was not with them and that they didn’t arrest him.

What did you do after this?

I called other people who were in the same line of trade with him to ask them what really happened, but the explanations did not make much sense as the story had too many versions. Someone told me that he had been transferred to the Zone 2 Police Command, Onikan. At this point, I didn’t understand what was going on any longer. How can someone who is badly injured be transferred to another police facility instead of a hospital? On September 8, 2020, four days after he was arrested, I was told that he had died in police custody. I asked how, because the police denied ever being with him at first. I told a few neighbours and friends what had happened and they told me to go to Onikan to find out what had happened.

The next day, September 9, 2020, I and my husband’s siblings went to the Zone 2 Police Command in Onikan to find out what exactly happened to my husband. That was where we met Officer Lati, whom we later got to know was the Investigating Police Officer in charge of the case. He told us that my husband was dead and told us to go, that he would call us later to update us on how the case was going and when the police were ready to release the corpse.

Was your husband allowed to see any of his relatives when he was arrested?

When my husband was at Ladegboye, one of his brothers went there to see him and enquired why he was arrested, but he (the brother) was arrested and locked up instead. When he was released, he came straight to my house. I asked him what he was told at the station and he told me he was locked up, and that he could not say anything more than that because the police said they were tracking him with a voice tracker. So, he couldn’t talk to me about the enquiry he made and the responses he got from the police at Ladegboye. This made me even more scared. How would the police arrest and lock up someone who came to enquire why his brother was arrested? Why would they track him? I knew something was fishy, but couldn’t lay my hands on it.

Have you been granted access to the corpse?

To date, I don’t know whether my husband is alive or dead. It was nine months now and I haven’t seen or heard from my husband or the police. I went with a lawyer, whom I paid N20,000 to help me out on the matter, but nothing has happened since then. I don’t know what is going on. I’ve been crying and asking everyone for help, so I can see his corpse and bury him.

How is your family taking the news of his death?

It is only God that is sustaining us because, to date, I can’t seem to understand how my husband would just die and nobody has seen his corpse. His family (members) have been quite supportive. They have been with me from the beginning when the bad news came. I don’t have a family. I have nobody to fight for me. I am hopeless.

Did your husband have any issues with any of his associates?

I don’t think so. I can’t say. It is Femi Animashaun, his friend, whom I learnt was also attacked on that day, who would have details on all this. But from all I know about my husband, he didn’t do any of the things they said he did. This is a man I stayed with for 12 years before his death. He would have been 39 years old this year, but they didn’t let him see it. They cut his life short for no reason.

How has the petition sent to the Inspector-General of Police over this matter assisted your family?

Well, yesterday (Tuesday, June 15, 2021), I saw in The PUNCH that five suspects connected to this case had been arrested and were in police custody, and others were still being hunted by the police. All I need is justice for my husband. I need to see his corpse; I need to be sure whether he’s dead or alive. The last time I saw him was on September 4, 2020. It has been nine months now and I can only imagine where his body is. It is really distressing for me. I don’t sleep at night. I see him in my dreams. He was such a good man and didn’t deserve to just die like that. I need the police to get to the bottom of this. I need them to tell me exactly what happened to my husband.

How are your children coping?

They do ask (about their dad). It is really traumatising for them. I have sat them down and told them everything I know about what happened, but you know children, they keep asking, “So, when is he coming back?” The last boy, every day, tells me he wants his daddy. I don’t know for how long I can deal with this. I don’t know who will take me out of my misery. I need to take care of these children. And since the death of my husband, who was the breadwinner of the family, it has been very difficult for me. I need Nigerians to come to my aid.


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