By Evelyn Usman and Uju Mbanusi
The tranquility hitherto enjoyed by residents of Salawu Street, along Galilee avenue in Iju area of Lagos was truncated last Wednesday, following sporadic gun shots from unknown gunmen. Gripped by trepidation, residents, some of whom were already on their way to their work places scampered in different directions for safety, while those who were jolted from sleep hid in their apartments.
When the dust settled, the body of a man riddled with bullets laid still on the ground;and was later identified as Ayokunle Oluwagbenga Ojo, 40, an Assistant Manager and auditor with the Bank of Industry BOI, Marina, Lagos.
The late Ojo, as gathered, left his family at about 5.45 am that fateful day, with a promise to be home early to attend to some family issues. But little did he envisage that he will not see his family again to fulfil his promise.
How he died
Information gathered by Crime Guard revealed that few poles from his building, Ayo( as he was fondly called), stopped, waiting for a commercial motorcycle to take him to the major road, from where he would board a bus to his destination, his assailants surfaced from nowhere and snuffed life out of the promising man who was only promoted to his recent position, two months ago.
A commercial motorcyclist who claimed to have witnessed the gruesome murder of the BOI auditor spoke on condition of anonymity, saying: “At about 5:45am that Wednesday, I was already up for business. I parked here at this junction (pointing to the spot) when the man walked down from his house and stood waiting for the a bike. Then, all of a sudden, some men dressed in black suit approached him and exchanged greetings as if they knew him.
“We later noticed there was an argument between him and the men. They were close so we could hear what they argued about. The men had demanded for his bag and laptop but he refused, telling them he was not with his lap top. He asked them why they were demanding for his things but they could not give him a reason. At that point, one of them pointed a gun at him and told him that whether he released the bag to them or not, they would kill him. Then one of them shouted ‘ call Mopol’.
“At this point, some of them started walking towards that area ( points towards the direction of late Ayomikun’s ‘s house). Another person started making a call on his phone and immediately, a man came out from nowhere and started shooting into the air, causing all of us to flee from the scene.
He shot the banker at the back of his head, and he fell,while the colleagues took the banker’s bag and mobile phone. It was after they left that we summoned courage to return to the scene. With the aid of a touch light, one of us summoned courage and turned him up because he laid faced down. Then, someone from the crowd shouted, ‘ ah, it is Ayo!’ at that point, others who ran for cover started coming out.”
While that was going on, Ayokunle’s wife was busy with the house chores and also making preparation for the children to go to school. Then, all of a sudden, the news that shattered her entire world filtered in after one of the on-lookers who recognized her husband rushed to break the news.
When Crime Guard visit the widow, Mrs Omolara Ayokunle, she still found it difficult to believe that her husband that left home early that fateful morning was gone forever. Amidst tears, she narrated, “When I heard the gun shot, I assumed since my husband had left the house, he would have gone out of this area at that time. So, I continued with preparing the children for school.
“Minutes later, there was a loud bang on our gate and I rushed to see what it was all about, only to hear the most shattering news of my life. I ran to the scene and saw my husband lying in a pool of his blood. We rushed him to Ancillary Hospital, one of the private hospitals around here, where he was pronounced dead on arrival. The blood was on the spot where he fell for a couple of days before it was washed away by rain. I am still trying to come to terms with that ugly incident,” she stated.
She paused for a while, looked at everyone around, shaking her head in agony and continued: “ He was a very caring husband and good father to our children. No matter how long his job took him away from home, he made it up for the children by spending quality time with them when he was not officially engaged. He was also a very gentle and kind- hearted individual.
Ayo could give you anything if it was within his power to do so. He hated seeing people suffer. We never had premonition of this tragic incident. He only celebrated his 40th birth day on June 23, 2013. We had looked forward to spending more quality time together, only for his killers to steal my joy away. I just hope they find the killers and bring them to book. That way, I will be happy even though it will not bring back my husband,she said ,crying.
Further investigation revealed that Ayokunle was murdered three days after he returned from an auditing job in Badagry branch of BOI. During his three-day audit visit, he reportedly discovered fraud in the bank’s account, a discovery that was brought to the notice of management of BOI, where the culprit, was arrested and handed over to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, for further investigation and prosecution.
“He only came back home from that three days journey and prepared for work next day when he was killed”, his widow who is left with the responsibility of catering for their three children whose ages are 10, 6 and 4 years receptively, said. Although the Police at Red House station have reportedly begun investigation into the killing of Ayokunle, but they are yet to establish whether it was a case of robbery or assassination as believed.
Sympathizers at the late Ayokunle’s residence were of the view that there was more to the murder of the banker, whom they described as an amiable fellow. A relative who spoke to Crime Guard on condition of anonymity said: ”It is obvious Ayo was killed by familiar faces because going by the manner his killers, as told, approached him, it revealed they are familiar with him. But why would anyone want him dead? He was only promoted to the position of an Assistant Manager a few months back and moved to this house last December. He was a jolly good fellow.”