The family and three children of woman allegedly murdered by an alfa in Badagry area of Lagos two weeks ago are still in shock over the manner of her death, writes Punch's Gbenga Adeniji.
The three children of the late Mrs. Oluwakemi Afolabi, murdered in Ikoga Zebbe area of Badagry, Lagos on Sunday, March 19, by an Alfa, looked forlorn as the reporter entered their modest apartment located in Ojodu, Berger area of the state.
If wishes could raise the dead, eldest child, Motunrayo, would waste no time in resurrecting her.
“She was a good mother who ensured we lacked nothing. Since the death of our father, she made sure we got the best especially in the area of education. We do not even know that we have no father because she filled the vacuum well. For us, she also refused to remarry but we felt she would have to do that someday because of the way society sees mature female adults without husbands,” the 18-year-old said amid sobs.
She also told Punch that on the day her mother was murdered, she received a ‘strange’ telephone call, hastily dressed and left the house.
Motunrayo, who is preparing for the Senior Secondary School Certificate Examination, told our correspondent in a broken voice, that the deceased only gave her some money to cook for the family when she asked her where she was going.
Reports indicated that the deceased went to meet an unnamed alfa for unknown reasons in Sango area of Ogun State who connived with his accomplices in Badagry to kill her for ritual purposes.
The police have, however, arrested one Taofik Hassan, who beheaded her and later dismembered her remains. The suspect was apprehended while going to deliver the body parts he severed from her corpse to the alfa in Sango Ota. Hassan claimed that one Baba Ronke in Badagry and another alfa in the Sango area of Ogun State; who are on the run, told him on Friday prior to the Sunday the woman was killed that a female client would be lured to a spot in Badagry. He said he was instructed to kill her and remove some of her body parts for a client who wanted specific human parts.
He also claimed to have been paid N4,000 for the dastardly act. “I asked her where she was from and she said Ojodu Berger. I pitied her but had no choice. I later told her to kneel down and she obeyed. I noticed that she had been charmed and I later killed her,’’ Hassan told a mob.
Motunrayo, who tried in futility to stop tears flowing from her face as she spoke to our correspondent, said, “On Sunday morning, she received a strange call and quickly dressed to go out. I asked her where she was going to and she only gave me some money to cook meals. She said she would soon return to eat.
“When she did not return after many hours, I tried her phone and it was switched off. I later became worried and called some of her friends and the person who used to supply goods to her provision store but they told me they did not know her whereabouts.’’
She added that she was advised to report her as missing in a nearby police station, stating, “When we got there, we were told to try her phone and it rang but later switched off. I later learnt that an alfa lured her to Badagry to kill her.’’
Our correspondent gathered that the deceased used to receive strange calls and ensured her children were out of earshot anytime she wanted to talk on the phone.
Motunrayo said, “She was not that way before as she always shared things with me. There was a time she told me that an unknown man came to her store to tell her what was bothering her. She said her late mother told her that she was surprised how he knew what she was experiencing since she never met him before and he also gave her his number to keep in touch.
“Some months back, I noticed that she started keeping secrets and always saying she needed money without saying what she wanted to use it for. She used to tell me to go and stay in her store and attend to customers that she wanted to go to the market to buy things. Whenever she returned from such outings, I would ask her the things she went to buy and she used to say she did not see what she went for. Even if she had to die, I would not want my mother to die the way she died. I have yet seen her remains because police said investigations were ongoing on the matter.’’
On Friday before her death, Motunrayo said her mother asked her to use her (mother’s) debit card to withdraw the sum of N31,000 recently paid into her account by one of her debtors.
She added. “When I gave her the money, she brought out some money which she borrowed from some people and told me to count them. I was surprised that she borrowed money. The total was N500,000 and she said she was going to use it to buy goods but I did not see anything she bought with the money. I am beginning to think that she was told not to disclose anything to anybody because she refused to tell me anything,’’ she said.
As Motunrayo spoke in a misery-laden voice, her two younger brothers came out of one of the rooms into the living room, with the older of the two holding a family album. They later settled in a settee and started feasting their eyes on the photographs in the album for about 10 minutes.
The elder of the boys thereafter removed two photographs — the one their late mother took with some friends and her late husband — took a pencil and a plain paper and began to draw the latter picture.
“He likes drawing and draws well. But I do not know why he wants to draw our late parents,’’ Motunrayo said softly as she wiped her tears.
A source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the ritualists could have made huge financial requests from the deceased. The source added that the deceased once confided in a close friend that she wanted to sell a building she was about to complete in Mowe area of Ogun State.
“I guess she was discouraged from doing that. The person wondered why she would want to do such but she did not tell why and what she needed money for. The police must find the masterminds of the act so others would not be their victims. There is more to tell the public particularly about what brought her to them and why she was killed. I think they decided to murder her after taking so much from her. They were obviously hiding something. They also took advantage of the fact that she has no husband because, ordinarily, a man would have become suspicious of her movements and the demands the alfa was making on her would have been long exposed,’’ the source noted.
The deceased’s younger brother, Tajudeen, who lamented the manner of his sister’s death, said her family was optimistic that the police would get to the root of the matter and get justice for the family.
Tajudeen said, “We are six children; four girls and two boys. She was the third child while I am the fourth. She was well loved in the area she lived because of her amiable nature. Though I do not visit her often because of my job, I talked to her frequently on the phone. I never knew she was involved with any Alfa.’’
The majority of the residents in the area decried the callous manner the woman was murdered, noting that her death was like a dream.
Two of the persons living in the area where the deceased’s store is located burst into tears when they came to commiserate with the children.
One of them, Mr. Ola Fasola, said the late woman was considerate and selfless as he rained curses on her killer.
Fasola said, “She was a good woman. She always encouraged me a lot and was jovial. I am surprised how she fell into the hands of the crooks. Why are human beings so wicked? Those who killed Mama Motunrayo must be found and made to face the music. She was a wonderful woman who would leave her own problems to help other people. I saw her briefly on Friday before she was killed on Sunday.’’
A woman, identified only as Mrs. Oluwaropo, who came with Fasola, could not conceal her grief.
She said the late woman was a friend of all and did not discriminate based on religion, ethnicity or status. Oluwaropo added that the future of the deceased’s children was vital as they had to carry on with life having lost both parents.
When contacted on the matter, the spokesperson for the Lagos State Police Command, ASP Olarinde Famous-Cole, said investigation was ongoing on the matter.