We, the children of late Olaiya Fagbamigbe are writing this article in response to the centre page news story of the Sunday Sun Newspaper of June 1, 2014 titled “How 1983 Ondo Guber Poll Fraud Sparked People’s Revolt” written by Tunde Raheem.
We have reframed from saying anything for decades about the gruesome murder of our dear father, on August 16, 1983, a week before his 55th birthday, not because we don’t have facts that led to his murder but because we believe that it would not bring him back neither would it replace all the things we lost. The one million dollar question is, who will judge – are they not the same people who killed him? However, we now believe that since the likes of Mr. Tunde Raheem would not let sleeping dog lie, it’s now imperative for us to respond. We are fed up with the constant lies.
The interesting thing is that every attempt to soil his name simply tells the world that Olaiya Fagbamigbe, our father, was and is still an important figure, a force that cannot be ignored in politics, who almost 31 years after his death, is still strongly talked about. People die and are forgotten. Some die and people around them joyfully announce their departure. But to the glory of God, our father whose life was maliciously and gruesomely terminated in 1983 is still such an important point of reference in the history of politics. If not so, why the lies? Why the need for cover up?
Our father was a renowned member of the UPN. Our father defected from UPN not out of greed or selfish interest as it’s often subtly portrayed but because he was a man of peace and integrity and it was difficult for him to work with people who lacked those qualities. According to Mr Tunde Raheem, in his article, the 1983 riot was spontaneous but this is untrue as the gruesome murder of our father and others affected was a well-orchestrated plan by those who wanted our father dead. For example, months before the primaries, our father was shot by gunmen in the hip area while visiting a relative. There were three people in the car. The man mistaken for our daddy: uncle Ire, was shot in the head. Thank God he is still alive today.
When these victims arrived at the General Hospital Akure, they were turned back because of a prior instruction not to treat people with gunshot wounds. A few days before the primaries, a prominent member of the UPN was arrested for producing fake UPN cards (one of us saw this party member arrested). These incidents were reported to the leadership of the party and no action was taken. After all these atrocities, our father and quite a lot of prominent UPN members in Ondo, Oyo , Lagos and Ogun states walked out of a UPN National meeting and never looked back. If other things were involved, well Olaiya Fagbamigbe is not here to talk about it but those still alive who knows the story especially those involved might decided to come out with the TRUTH. But we have stated it here as it is known to us.
Also, on the night of August 13th, 1983, the night of the gubernitorial election, an attempt was made three times before daybreak to burn our house at 11 Methodist Church Road, Gbogi, Akure.
A distant relative who heard about the plan, brought thugs to our house to protect us. Our father argued against allowing the thugs to guard the family but after so much argument, he allowed a handful of them whom he sent parking first thing the following morning. Our entire family would have been burnt to death in our sleep that night. This is the only time any of us ever saw thugs in our house. This attempt was not made by dissatisfied members of the public since they had voted that day and the result had not been announced. Was this spontaneous?
Months before the August 16 1983 incident, a campaign of condolence to the people of Akure was launched by Chief Obafemi Awolowo. He would say e ku isehinde Olaiya Fagbamigbe etc. This was aired on Ondo State Television. The State Radio and Television stations were instruments of campaign by the Ajasin administration.
When a hit list was shown to our father by concerned Akure indigens, he reported at the police station and a one-man-police-protection was given to us. He also wrote an article in the newspaper stating that his life was in danger.
On the morning of 16th August, 1983, visitors including our uncle Pa Oni Fagbamigbe and his friend visited our home very early in the morning as usual. We were at the balcony when we noticed an unusual crowd at the junction of the street and before one could say Jack Robinson, mob of people appeared from all angles matching towards our house. Our father instructed one of us to call the police but when eventually one of the officers answered the phone, he said ‘we don’t have a vehicle now if you make your way to the police station, we will protect you.’ This, he repeated to our father. Our father dropped the phone and expressed grief saying that he had been betrayed. If it was a spontaneous reaction, how come police men were not detailed to our house after the call?
While we were still considering our options, a neighbour frantically told us that our house had been set ablaze from precisely our father’s room. Our father instructed us to run for our dear lives. We begged him to come with us but he would not burg because he wouldn’t want the death of his brother, the visitors and supporters who lived on the street on his conscience. He wanted to be sure that they all escaped to safety.
We ran until we got to the front of an old man’s house not too far from our house. One of the tenants took us in but before we could settle, the thugs came after us, threatened to burn the man’s house down if he didn’t produce us. We managed to escape to the bush because our mother was caught. It was while we were in the bush that we heard the gruesome details of how our father was killed. Was this as a result of a spontaneous reaction? We were not politicians but students at that time so why the attempt on our lives? Interestingly, while in the bush, we heard that they were instructed to wipe out the whole family especially the first born by a man who complained bitterly about how oga will not be happy that we were not killed. Was this spontaneous Mr. Raheem?
Our mother was beaten, forced to drink petrol and was about to be burnt alive when in a miraculous way, God saved her. She is alive with a sound mind to describe those who wanted to kill her. These people had tribal marks. Akure people don’t wear tribal marks. So where did these people come from? Our mother was not a politician but a teacher and her only crime was to have married a politician so why the attempt on her life?
If Mr Tunde Rahmeen had wanted to write a comprehensive report, he could have done his research and read our mother’s account in the interview she granted Hope newspaper which was published on Wednesday, September 25, 2013 or better still, interview our mother who had been living in Akure since 2004. The reporter claimed he interviewed one Pa Ola Falodun who gave him an account of what transpired on the morning of August 16, 1983. This Pa Falodun could not have lived at Methodist Church Road in 1983 or up on till 5years ago when we pulled down the burnt and dilapidated house (not 2013 as reported by Mr Rahmeen).
The house adjacent to our house was owned by Mr Okoro. Beside us to the left is a Jehovah Witness Kingdom hall. To the right, was a house owned by Iya Ondo, to our opposite was the house owned by Baba and Iya Ojo and adjacent was the Okoros. There was no Pa Falodun living close to us at that time as claimed by Mr. Raheem. Neither did this Pa Falodun’s photograph in the Sunday Sun newspaper bear resemblance to anyone living on Methodist Church Road at the time. Also, the piece of land published in the newspaper is not our property in Gbogi.
We are proud of our father and his achievements. He was probably burnt alive as we do not have a definite account of how he was killed but one thing is sure, the memory lives on. History may have been re-written in Ondo State and those who have re-written it may be finding ways of convincing the entire world of their lies, but for us, it doesn’t matter. The enemies of Akure and Ondo State dead or alive might be celebrated today as the elder statesmen, it doesn’t matter. We knew our father. Those who knew him and have not compromised or have not been intimidated would speak the truth given the opportunity.
Some people are bigger than death, they never die. Our father might be dead but his memory lives on.
Olaiya Fagbamigbe’s Children