Many people may not have known the late human rights activist, Mr. Vincent Olatunde. He was however known to cultists, cyber criminals and policemen stationed at Somolu area of Lagos. He had a penchant for reporting any perceived ill in Somolu, before he was killed by cultists.
Three years after his murder, the Lagos Police State Command, last week, announced that his killer has been arrested. The arrest of Ibrahim Balogun, alias Small Jepron, the alleged leader of Eiye confraternity in Somolu, that killed Vincent, has made Mrs. Adetutu Olatunde, wife of the slain activist, to reveal the nightmare her life and those of her children has become. Balogun was alleged to have murdered Vincent and four others at Shomolu.
Vincent was attacked on October, 1, 2013. He died, leaving his wife to bring up their children alone. One would have expected Adetutu to jubilate over the arrest of Balogun, but instead, she lamented: “My children and I had Balogungone through a lot since the death of my husband three years ago. Some of the cultists, who killed my husband, are still threatening to kill my children and I. They said we’ve been reporting them to the police.”
The widow recalled an incident that became imprinted in her memory. It happened in the area she and her children relocated, after Vincent died. Adetutu said: “One day, I was outside with my children when some of the cult members came to our street.
They came to see one of their friends, who just returned from London. Immediately they saw my children and I outside, they moved towards us and started threatening and cursing us.” Recollecting how her husband was killed, Adetutu said: “I still remember that day like it was yesterday.
The day cultists shot my husband; I was outside, waiting for someone. I saw some young boys. They rode on five motorcycles. They positioned themselves in front of our former house. They were all dressed in black.”
Adetutu said that when the cult boys arrived, they initially didn’t recognise Vincent. She said someone, standing close to Vincent, fingered him. She narrated: “Immediately they saw him, they brought out their guns and started shooting straight at him. He tried to run and defend himself, but they eventually shot him.
They thought he was dead at that point and left him. We rushed him to Mainland General Hospital, Yaba, where X-ray was conducted on him. About 23 pellets were discovered on his arms. The medical doctors said they could not operate him, so that he would not die from blood shortage.”
The family later relocated to another part of the metropolis for security purpose. Adetutu said the relocation became necessary after it was discovered that the cultists were frantically searching for Vincent, to ensure he was finally eliminated.
Adetutu said: “To my surprise, even when we were invited to the State Criminal Investigations Department (SCID), Panti, Yaba, some of the cultists, laid ambush for him. He escaped. Since then, I lost my respect for the police. I didn’t know how the cultists got to know that my husband was going to the station that very day. Someone must have told themat the police station. Some of these cult boys had been arrested before, but we see them walking freely in the community after some days.
Even this Balogun that was arrested will soon be released. They’ll come back to start trailing and threatening my family. That’s why I don’t like speaking with journalists.” She said that the most painful event of her life was when Vincent died on her birthday. He died from the gunshot wound inflicted by the cultists. She said: “But my children and I have accepted our fate and left judgment to God. My late husband’s spirit fought hard for vengeance.
Seven of the cultists that killed my husband have died mysteriously. Among them was the boy that shot him. I’m happy their leader has been arrested. Others should be arrested too, so that peace will return to Somolu community.”
Vincent was standing in front of his house, on Craig Street, at about 1.30pm, on October, 1, 2013, when about 15 cultists, who rode on motorcycles, attacked him. The Lagos State Commissioner of Police (CP), Mr. Fatai Owoseni, said police have been on Balogun’s trail over major cult clashes in Somolu. Owoseni added: “Balogun, who is an ex-convict, was arrested on August 21, 2016, after terrorising Somolu with his gang. They have turned the community into a theatre of war.” Balogun said: “I joined cultism in 2009 after my best friend, Sunday Folorunsho, was killed by Aiye cult members. Immediately my friend was killed, the
Eiye members in the community approached me; they said they would fight the Aiye group on my behalf if only I would join their cult group. I didn’t want my friend to die in vain; that was how I became a full-fledged member of the Eiye confraternity.
We fought the Aiye group successfully.” When Balogun was asked why his group attacked Vincent, he said: “I was in the prison when he was shot. But I was part of those that planned the operation. He was attacked because of his relationship with the policemen. I went to prison because two persons died after our group clashed with Aiye group. It was after I came out of the prison I heard that Pappy (Vincent), died as a result of the gunshot wounds.”
Balogun added: “Some of the guns we use for our operations were supplied by one Waliu, a member of Eiye. Since I joined Eiye, I have killed two people. I stabbed them to death. I was arrested at my mother’s street by policemen from Alade Police Station. I regret my action. After I returned from prison, I signed an undertaking that I would never involve myself in cultism anymore. Since I came back from prison, I have not fought with anymore again!
Whenever the Aiye group fights in the community, they would mention my name. Government should provide jobs for youths. Youths join cultism out of frustration.” On Monday, policemen attached to the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), Ikeja, Lagos State Command, arrested two more members of Balogun’s gang. When Vincent was attacked by cultists for always monitoring and reporting their activities to policemen, he survived the attack.
He laughed after he heard that the bullets the gang fired at him were poisoned ones. He wasn’t meant to survive, but he did. But a few days after narrating his encounter with our correspondent, Vincent died.
According to Vincent, the cult boys, numbering over 10, attacked him right in front of his house and even after he dodged series of the flying bullet and took to running for his dear life, they pursued him. Before the war the cultists declared on him came to an end, more than six people had been killed, while three persons were injured.
Immediately they fired the first bullet at him, right in front of his house, with his petrified wife and child watching, Vincent had dodged behind a bystander, who was later alleged to be the ‘pointer’ for the gang. Vincent said: “I don’t know whether because of the amount of blood the shooter saw that made him, not to check whether I was dead or still alive.
But he apparently thought I was dead. I later heard that the bullets they used in the local guns were poisoned bullets. I was not supposed to survive such a bullet. Anyway, the shooter brought out his phone, called somebody and told the person that he had killed me.
That I was dead.” Immediately Vincent heard the phone conversation, he continued to play possum until his assailant left. Later, his wife and children, who had already started weeping, thinking he was dead as a doornail, entered.
They could not believe their eyes when they found him still breathing, but nursing a bullet wound. He was sneaked out of the apartment and taken to the hospital. “I heard from reliable sources the cultists were popping champagne, celebrating my demise when someone called and told them that I was still alive. An argument started; with some saying it was impossible. They traced me to the hospital where I was receiving treatment and unleashed hell in that street.
But they couldn’t gain access into the hospital. I was later transferred out of that hospital.” The activist died a few days later, after laughing at the idea of the poisoned bullets.