Ayanwole: Family relives deceased’s ordeal as LBSL withdraws BRT services
• Sanwo-Olu expresses grief
• Outcry over driver’s account as Lagos pledges justice
Public outrage, yesterday, trailed the gruesome murder of Oluwabamise Ayanwole, who got missing after boarding a Lagos Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) vehicle, and her body was found at Carter Bridge and the confession of Andrew Nice, the arrested bus driver.
Nice, who was arrested in a hideout in Ogun State by Department of States Security (DSS), had during earlier interrogation, confessed to the crime.
A video of his initial arrest revealed the driver confessed to having carnal knowledge of the deceased. He was dressed in shabby and disheveled attire, truly reflecting his fugitive status as of the time of arrest.
But in another video, the suspect, who turned out clean shaven, in specially designed Lagos Bus Services Limited (LBSL) outfit, claimed innocence.
In an interview with a television station, he claimed that he was ordered at gunpoint by armed men to drop the deceased at Carter Bridge.
Alarmed by the new twist, some Lagosians protested the handling of the matter by Lagos State Government and the police.
One of them, Ayodele Abass, wondered why state government is taking citizens for granted.
Lagos rights activist and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Ebun Olu-Adegboruwa called on the Federal Government to take over the investigation as the state could not be trusted.
He said: “Events concerning the murder of Miss Oluwabamishe Ayanwole are as intriguing as they are worrisome. Following public outcry and media monitoring, the government hurriedly packaged the BRT driver for media interview, to give the impression that he was innocent of the crime.
“Some further revelations have now thrown up questions that the Lagos State Government must answer, if it is not covering up this dastardly act of daylight murder.
“In a homicide matter of this magnitude, how can a prime suspect who was declared missing, be handed over to government by the security agencies?
“Who then packaged a crime suspect, to turn out clean shaven, dressed in specially designed Lagos State Government outfit and now well tutored to claim innocence to set up the cock and bull story of hijack?
“Why was government romancing a murder suspect?
“And why was he paraded on a selected media of TV Continental, over which Lagos State has influence through patronage?
“What is the business of Lagos State in the interrogation of a murder suspect?
“The Commissioner of Police had earlier addressed the press to the extent that the suspect had confessed to the crime before Lagos State emerged with the latter James Bond storyline.
“What interest is the government serving to cover up a clear case of blue murder,” he queried.
Lead Counsel to the family, Ayo Ademiluyi, said: “The Nigeria Police has showed its traditional unprofessionalism. Even after EndSARs, the Nigeria Police Force is yet to be reformed. We place this murder at the feet of the Nigerian state and the LSBL who has a corporate criminal liability in this scenario. And so, we demand a thorough criminal investigation of this incident and called for the arraignment of all the suspects. We are demanding an autopsy.
“LBSL should also take notice that we are going to embark on a civil suit against them.”
MEANWHILE, Lagosians were left stranded, yesterday, as operators of the BRT withdrew their services. The Guardian learnt that the withdrawal, was to prevent a reoccurrence of the 2020 EndSARS protest, which led to burning of BRT buses and other key infrastructure in the state.
The government allegedly said that there were plans by some youths to attack the buses and the drivers, as part of the exercise to express their displeasure over death of a passenger.
In a memo sent to all operators through the Ministry of Transportation, the government allegedly told the operators that it could not guarantee 100 per cent protection at the moment.
A staff to one of the operators, who confirmed the development, said they were mandated to adhere strictly to the instruction.
The decision, however, left many passengers stranded at major bus stops across the state. A passenger at Berger bus stop, Florence Oki, said commercial bus drivers took advantage of the withdrawal coupled with the fuel scarcity to increase transport fares in some routes.
For instance, a bus ride from Berger to Obalande, which normally goes between N300 and 400, went up for between N500 and N600.
There was also heavy presence of security operatives at the Gani Fawehinmi Park in Ojota, Lagos and other strategic locations, as some youths vowed to protest the gruesome murder of the fashion designer.
In a flier shared on Twitter, the youths vowed to storm the Secretariat in Alausa, Ikeja and all BRT terminals in the state.
ALSO, the family of the deceased narrated how LBSL staff and the police treated them during the search for their sister.
A family member, James Joel, who spoke on behalf of the family at the Rights House in Ikeja, accused the police of handling the matter with levity.
He said the family had visited the Mosafejo Police Station, Oshodi with the video sent to them by the deceased, but officers at the station brushed it off.
“On Monday, myself and some members of the family went to BRT terminal three at Oshodi and the workers there laughed it off and immediately we left for Mosafejo Police Station, they told us that they are not in charge of the vicinity where the crime took place. They told us that they don’t have anything to do with the case.
“The staff of LBSL said a series of things to us, including telling us that our sister ran away to see a man, which we captured on video,” he added.
He said the family headed for the LBSL office at Ilupeju road, but they were denied entry and threatened with arrest after much plea, they allowed them in and they admitted that they own the bus.
Joel, who was in the company of the deceased sister, Titilayo, accused the company of allowing the bus driver, Nice to abscond as he was on duty on Monday but was told not to drive instead of arresting him.
He said as of Tuesday morning, March 1, 2022, no police station was willing to accept the case, and the family member was redirected to Lekki to report the case and were told to report to Area F in Ikeja.
He said: “We went back to Mosafejo Police station, where the case was earlier rejected, and they collected the details and promised to get our sister back hale and healthy.
“They also promised that the driver will be caught, that same day after we left the station, the DPO ordered the IPO in charge of the case to fish out the guarantor of the driver and we were surprised to learn that the man was no longer living in the address, he gave to LSBL.
He claimed that the team were told at the office of the Senior Adviser (SA) to the governor on transportation that LBSC does not belong to the government, that it’s a private company.
Joel accused the police of dumping the body of their sister in the morgue without contacting the family and that it took them more than an hour to find the body.
Titilayo also accused the state government of killing her sister.
She said: “They made her suffer and removed her private part. She suffered in pain till death.
“Bamise brought excitement to all, but now the whole world hears my sister’s story not because she’s celebrating.
“Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, we are challenging you, you have seen my family, we are hardworking, we have no fraudster in our family. My pregnant sister is currently at the hospital fighting for her life after she learnt of the issue. My father is 84 years and my mother, 74, nothing must happen to the rest of us.
“The video conversation before Bamise’s death signifies complicity on the part of the Bus driver and a sign that BRT buses are no longer secure for the common man.
“We suspect foul play and we will not engage in hasty burial.
“The government should be held responsible for the death of my sister.”
Also, 74- year-old, Mrs. Comfort Abegunde-, the mother of the deceased has called for justice.
Speaking in Yoruba amidst tears and sobs, the mother of the victim said in an interview with journalists that it would have been a great joy if cameramen were recording Oluwabamise’s wedding day instead of a mournful state.
She said her daughter bought an Android phone recently on pay on-installment basis, because calling and speaking on her former phone didn’t ease communication between them.
She, however, said: “My joy is that, if not for the new phone she got, this secret wouldn’t have been known, because whenever she calls to greet me with her old handset, I would tell her, I cannot hear you but If you can hear me and I will just pray for her.
BUT, Sanwo- Olu , has expressed his grief over the death of the 22-year old, noting that life of Lagosians is important to the government and will not take the security of the people for granted.
He added that no stone would be left unturned in the investigations with justice to prevail on anyone involved in the death of Bamise.
He said: “The driver of the BRT bus involved in this unfortunate incident has been arrested, and the management of Lagos Bus Service Ltd have been directed to cooperate fully with security agencies in their investigations, so that the full weight of the law is brought down on everyone involved in this ugly incident.
“To Bamise’s family and loved ones, my thoughts and prayers are with you during this difficult time, may the Almighty God console you. I hereby give you my word that justice will be served.”