Nigeria: Seeking justice for murdered Bamise
The gruesome kidnapping and murder of Oluwabamise Ayanwole while traveling on a state-run bus rapid transit vehicle on February 26 has left many broken, but a question sadly arises: who killed Bamise? Reporting by Ferdinand Ekechukwu
“There are three men and a woman on the bus. The woman is sitting in the back. This is the bus number just in case. Please pray for me.” These last words of Miss Bamise Ayanwole betray a glimpse of hope for her survival as she was abducted while in transit. For days, her case raised concerns among members of the public as well as her family members felt that she must have been kidnapped for ritual purposes.
His body was then discovered nine days later on Carter Bridge, Lagos Island. Recall that the 22-year-old was reported missing on her way from the Lekki region of the state. Bamise, who worked as a seamstress, was kidnapped on her way from Ajah to Ota on Saturday February 26 when she boarded a Bus Rapid Transport bus bound for Oshodi around 7 p.m. at the stop of Chevron buses. After boarding the bus, she noticed that there were only three other passengers – all men.
Sensing danger as the bus did not stop to pick up other passengers, Bamise reportedly became concerned and alerted her friend, Felicia Omolara, via WhatsApp recording and voice notes that told her. been sent. Voice notes showed the bus driver said he liked Bamise and asked for his name and other details. She told her friend to pray for her as she was suspicious of the bus driver and in response the friend told her to get off at Oworonsoki bus stop – before Oshodi.
Bamise had also sent a video to her friend showing how dark it was on the bus. The BRT diver was arrested last Monday in Ososa, Ogun State by SSS officers. Nice BRT driver Andrew Omininikoron, suspected of having abducted and murdered the young woman, said during his interrogation that his bus had been hijacked by three armed men who threatened to kill him. When arrested, the driver said he singled out Ms Ayanwola, and three male passengers later joined the bus.
Mr Omininikoron claimed the men pointed guns at him and told him to cooperate while the deceased called for help. The driver said he got scared when he saw guns and followed their order. The BRT driver also claimed he believed the deceased was still in the vehicle when he left because he saw her holding the iron in the vehicle as the kidnappers dragged her away. “I picked her at Chevron, and the other three guys at … when those guys show me her gun while I was inside, I can’t be myself anymore,” Mr. Nice said.
“The fears came, so whatever the man with the gun told me, I did. I followed that Carter bridge, that airlift, they ordered me to stop there, they say I should open the door, when I open the door, then when they came down, now they start dragging her, when I saw she was calling for help, in fact, I was helpless. “
Following his death, the Lagos State government last Tuesday suspended bus rapid transit operations as a precautionary measure after receiving reports of “planned attacks”. This left many commuters stranded at various Lagos bus stations on Tuesday due to the state’s directive to suspend operations in sympathy with Bamise Ayanwole. Gani Fawehinmi Park, Ojota, Lagos was heavily guarded by armed security guards – officers from the Nigerian Police, Nigerian Army and Department of State Services (DSS) – over a proposed protest to seek justice for Bamise killed.
But many sympathizers besieged the residence of Bamise to offer their condolences to the family. They carried placards with inscriptions, “We want Justice for Bamise”, “Don’t sweep under the rug, we want Justice”. They called on Lagos State Governor Sanwo-Olu and the Commissioner of Police to ensure justice is served. Some activists also stormed the Lagos State Assembly with the deceased’s immediate elder sister, Damilola, to mourn the gruesome killing of Bamise.
Recounting Bamise’s final moments, Damilola said, “Governor Sanwo-Olu, I challenge you. My family is not rich, we are not influential but we have God. We work hard and struggle to survive. We are satisfied with what we have. We are Christians at heart. Why was our last born used for the things of the world? This is a ritual case of silver.
“They made her (Bamise) suffer, they took away her private part. They did not kill her o, she suffered pain and hell on earth before moving to her destination. forced her to stop at the bus stop where she was not supposed to stop.” Describing the late Bamise, she said: ‘Bamise was a patient and cheerful person, she makes everyone in the family happy. He (the driver) told everyone there was an attack, why didn’t he report to their terminal that there was an attack? He did not report to the police station or to his superiors.
“He has now returned to work on Monday, please if it was an attack why was he able to return to work on Monday? We met a man at the park who said Bamise was part to have fun that she would call us, and that she doesn’t want to call now, because she was having fun, when she had pains where her private part was cut off.
“They didn’t kill her before cutting off her private part. My sister went through a hellish situation in a cell like that of wrestling before her last breath on earth. My mother who is 74 years old and my father 84 years, in the morning, they did not cry any of us children, at this phase of their life, they appreciate the small sign that we return to them.
“They used Bamise’s death to cause grief to the family. She had dreams of becoming a fashion designer and she was doing brilliantly in her training, but look what they caused. Please, we want justice. ” Distraught mum Comfort, who spoke to The Nation, said: “All I want is justice which has to be the truth and not something that will make those in charge of things alter the truth.
“I am from Otun Ekiti, I call on the Ekiti State Government to help us. Bamise is a prominent daughter of Ekiti. Please, Lagos State and Lagos State Governments Ekiti should collaborate and get together. I have no one but God. If not for God who said that her time (of Bamise) was over on earth, the handset she had before her death was a new one because the one she was using was faulty.”
Bamise may be just one of the victims of the BRT bus, as another victim of the driver arrested in connection with the murder presented extremely critical evidence. The female victim, whose name has not been given, revealed that she was sexually assaulted inside the same BRT by the same driver in November 2021.
She claimed she was sexually assaulted after the suspect ‘turned off the bus light’ while inside his BRT from Alesh bus stop in Ajah to Jakande. He called the victim to sit in the front seat where he began to commit his heinous act. She said that when the driver started making advances to her which she rejected, he brought a knife and “threatened her with death”.
The new revelation came amid anger and a whirlwind of emotions surrounding the death of Bamise, whose body was found with allegedly missing vital organs. BRT driver Ominnikoron was arraigned at a Yaba Magistrate’s Court in Lagos State and remanded in custody for 30 days. Magistrate OA Salawu found that Ominnikoron had been remanded in custody pending a legal opinion from the Lagos State Prosecution Service.
The defendant is charged with conspiracy, murder, rape and misconduct in relation to the corpses. The indictment was read to the accused but his plea was however not upheld by the court. Salawu adjourned the case until April 11 for advice from the DPP. Earlier, the officer in charge of the legal department of the Panti State Criminal Investigation Department, Ms. Yetunde Cardoso said that Ominnikoron committed the offense at 8 p.m. on February 26, along the Ajah highway. -Oshodi, on a Lagos State BRT bus with code number 257.
The offence, she said, contravened the provisions of Sections 411, 223, 260 and 165 of the Lagos State Criminal Act, 2015 (Revised). Sections 223 provides for the death penalty for the offense of murder, 260 provides for life imprisonment for rape, and 165 provides for five years imprisonment for misconduct in relation to corpses.