Tears flowed freely at the Erifun, Ado Ekiti residence of 52-year-old Assistant Superintendent of Police, Ojo Ayeni, crushed to death on a motorbike along Ado–Ijan Road in Ado Ekiti, Ekiti State, on Tuesday by a van of the Rapid Response Squad of the Nigeria Police.
The sympathisers including the young and old, who thronged the residence to commiserate with the family and attend the wake on Thursday and the burial on Friday, could not hide their emotions.
Although eye witnesses said the late ASP, who was riding on a bike was crushed by the RRS van on speed chasing suspected internet fraudsters from opposite direction, the state Police Commissioner, Tunde Mobayo, said the accident caused by a mechanical fault to the police van, occurred in the process of responding to a distress call over activities of cultists.
The late ASP had five children–four from his first marriage and one from the wife second, 38-year-old, Angela.
Teary-eyed widow of the late ASP, Angela, who remained inconsolable since the incident occurred, said perhaps her husband could have been rescued if the policemen after causing the accident immediately took him to a hospital for medical assistance and prevented him from losing much blood following which he died.
“Although I was not at the scene, the information I got was that, after the accident happened, the RRS men carried him from the scene, when they got to the NNPC area along the Ado–Ijan Road, despite the injuries and the bleeding, they parked there and began to argue among themselves.
“After that, they took him to the office and then to a hospital. If they had taken him to hospital immediately to get necessary attention at hospital, even if he had injury, he could have been saved. Accident victims can have injury, but can be saved when treated quickly.
“The congealed blood in the van when I saw his lifeless body at the hospital was too much. When I carried my husband’s body, my clothes were drenched in blood. ‘Na me the death killed (I am the one that has died). His death pained me deeply. This is a permanent injury to me,” the mother of one said.
She also raised the alarm over her husband’s phone, saying, “We have not recovered my husband’s phone and it has since been switched off. The phone was in his pocket when he left my shop. One of the people who carried the body into the van must have taken his phone.”
The wife added, “That Tuesday morning, he dressed up and went to work. But at about 4pm, he took a bike and went to his project site where some people were working for him. When he got there, he paid the workers and rode to my shop nearby. We discussed and he said he would not eat as he was not feeling hungry. He said he was returning to work at his division and I said he should take care of himself. He left not knowing that it was the last time I would see him alive.
“About an hour later, a commercial motorcycle rider came around and said a terrible accident had happened. He stated that some RRS operatives were pursuing some internet fraudsters (Yahoo boys) and in the process hit a policeman riding on a black bike. He said the accident was terrible and that the RRS operatives had put the policeman in their vehicle. I rushed there to confirm because my husband rode on a black bike when he came to my shop.
“When I got there, I saw the bike mangled. The RRS vehicle crossed from its lane to the other lane and hit my husband. I asked which hospital they took him to but nobody could say specifically until much later when I got wind that it was a police clinic. I went there to see him and take him to another hospital if need be for proper medical attention.
“When I got to the police clinic, it was his lifeless body I saw at the back of the van. There was blood everywhere. I went there, cried, prayed, attempted to wake him and held the lifeless body to myself. Later, they said they would take him to the mortuary. I said I would do that, but they said no. I followed them to mortuary.’’
The woman, who said life would never be the same again without her husband, said the love they shared was great.
“His death is a permanent scar, an injury on me, but I don’t have a choice. It is only water I have been able to drink since he died, no food goes into my mouth,” she said.
According to her, she and her husband prayed on the morning of the incident to avert death around the family following a dream he had overnight.
She said, “That Tuesday, when we finished our morning prayers, he said he remembered that he had a terrible dream where he saw himself digging heaps. I told him that it was a bad sign because whenever he had such a dream, he would be called from his town that somebody had died. I was worried and wondered aloud who would have to die in his town again. He said he would know the following day and we prayed to avert evil. After the prayer, he said some things and I asked why he said them but he replied me that he was only making clarifications and that no one would die.’’
Angela stated, “I will miss many things about him. Where we stay is a students’ area. He would always come to this place even if on duty to ensure security. He was always with me at the shop after closing from his station. He assisted me to sell and one would not believe he was a policeman.’’
She, however, appealed for assistance from government and police authorities, saying, “I want them to help me. I need help to cope and cater for my child. His children need help for progress and development. I also seek support to finish his hostel project.’’
The late officer’s younger brother, Monday Ayeni, who said the family would miss Ojo said, “We come here (Ado Ekiti) to celebrate the festive period yearly for unity purpose. He played a fatherly role to us. I reside at Ilorin. Other siblings are at Bauchi, Abuja and Ilorin. We were preparing to come as usual this year. I planned to come on the morning of January 1. But at about 7.30pm on Tuesday, I got a call that he was dead. I could not believe it because we spoke not long ago that day. But when I called his wife, she was weeping and confirmed the sad news that he died in an accident. I called his four children from the first wife because they stay in Ilorin and we left for Ado Ekiti on Wednesday morning.’’
Monday, who corroborated his brother’s wife that he learnt that the RRS operatives parked at a point to argue instead of rushing the accident victim to hospital, added, “One curious thing was that ABUAD Hospital is close to the accident scene, but they still took him to faraway police clinic. But this is a police matter and they know how they do their things. But I am sure it would have been another thing entirely if it had been a civilian that caused something like this.’’
“My brother was always willing to help to ensure we are all happy. He brought the family together. His death will affect us immensely. He is irreplaceable. There is nothing we can do. We believe God gave him to us and took him away. Is there a way we can fight the government and win? Our appeal is to ensure that the needful is done so that his wife and children will not suffer.
“Whatever help the government can render should please be done. We are helpless. We have no power for litigation.
His children are young, the government and police should have mercy on his wife and children,” he said.
Also, a pensioner and Vice Chairman of Erifun community, Olusola Ogunmoyin, who was in tears, told our correspondent that Ojo was good to them.
Ogunmoyin added, “His death is a great loss to us because anytime we called on him, he would be there. He always gave valuable pieces of advice. Our community lost a gem. Only God can help us to bear the loss.
The wife and children should be taken care of by the police. Police should do the needful for the family. They should not waste time.
“This is a students’ area. The moment this man is no more, this place should be policed and the cops should see that the family is secure. They should try their best to make sure that they assist this family.’’
The CP, who confirmed that an ASP was crushed to death while eight others sustained injuries in an accident involving the van of RRS in Ado Ekiti, also mourned the officer and sympathised with the injured.
The CP, in a statement by the spokesperson for the command, Sunday Abutu, however, dismissed reports that the police van was chasing internet fraudsters when it crushed the cop to death. He said the accident was caused by mechanical fault developed by the police van while the RRS operatives were in transit to react to a distress call.
He said, “At about 6:30pm, a distress call was received from the DPO Ikole Ekiti by the RRS for reinforcement for possible arrest of some suspected cultists who have been terrorising the people of Ikole-Ekiti and its environs.
“Upon receipt of the report, the RRS commander deployed three patrol vehicles with adequate operatives to that axis for the operation. Unfortunately, while on their way, one of the three patrol vehicles developed a mechanical fault, went off its lane and hit an oncoming motorcycle ridden by a policeman who had closed from work and was returning home.
“The policeman was rushed to a hospital for medical attention but was confirmed dead by a medical doctor while eight other RRS operatives in the patrol vehicle sustained different degrees of injuries and are currently in a hospital receiving medical attention.”
Abutu stated that Mobayo, “On behalf of the command, sympathises with the family of the deceased officer and prays God grant him eternal rest.
The CP has visited the injured police officers in the hospital and will also visit the family house of the deceased ASP to sympathise with them.’’