I have been reduced to nothing, mother of killed Remo Stars footballer laments
Almost every hour since last Saturday, friends, neighbours, relatives, and sympathisers have continued to throng the home of the Tiamiyus in Sagamu, Ogun State, following the killing of their son, Tiamiyu Kazeem, popularly known as ‘Kaka’, a footballer with Remo Stars FC of Sagamu.
With teary eyes and a Bible in her right hand, mother of the deceased, Mrs. Selimot Tiamiyu was surrounded by friends when Nigerian Tribune visited on Tuesday.
The plump light-complexioned mother in her late 40s, clads in a white robe and veil to match, Selimot spoke in a strained voice, uttering the words, “I have been reduced to nothing. Today, my hope seems shattered; I have lost one of my favourite children.”
Looking drained, she held firmly to the Bible, apparently as the only solace for the loss.
“My son was born on August 7, 1994, and was never a ‘Yahoo’ boy, but a professional footballer in his life. He was very industrious on the pitch and his consistency made me cheer him up to be great in it.
“He usually wore his club’s jersey. He cherished the jersey more than any other cloth. I washed his jerseys almost every day, and his boots too.
“He had up to 15 pairs of boots. Whenever he wore a white jersey, he would match it with a white pair of socks. His jersey and socks always matched. That was his practice. In fact, that Saturday, [the day he was killed], he was in one of his jerseys when the incident happened.
“There was a certain day that his elder brother’s wife put to bed and he was at the hospital. Just as he went in, I was called that SARS operatives had surrounded his car. I rose and went there and on getting there, I met them.
“I called one of their bosses immediately because, during Gbenga Daniel’s tenure, I served all policemen in the state souvenirs whenever they had meetings. So, he told them to leave my son alone and they did. They told me they were sorry and I, in turn, told them to be sorry for themselves,” Mrs. Tiamiyu said.
Though there have been conflicting narratives about what led to Kazeem’s death, an operative of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) was fingered in the circumstances that led to the killing.
While one narrative claims that the SARS official shot the footballer, another says that Kazeem was killed in a hit-and-run accident.
Like Selimot, her husband, Mr. Fasasi Tiamiyu also looked morose and was enveloped in a cloak of confusion, rage and disbelief.
Fasasi, a former Deputy Leader of the House, Sagamu Local Government Area, bemoaned how his son was killed in cold blood, at the time he (son) had secured a trial with a Swedish club and was due to leave in three weeks for the trials.
Narrating Saturday’s event, Fasasi said, “On Friday evening, when I returned from a ceremony, I saw ‘Kaka’ sleeping here at our sitting room and 30 minutes later, he told me that he needed to be in his manager (Seun Oyesanya’s) house to sleep overnight ahead of his trial in Europe, I gave him our Lexus car key. On Saturday morning around 11 am I reached out to him and he wasn’t picking his call.
“While calling him, a policeman picked the call and asked if I was the father of Kazeem. He then told me that Kazeem was at Obafemi Owode General Hospital. I couldn’t imagine what could have happened. Different questions began to pop up in my head.
“As I was heading to the station, I quickly reached out to his manager to join me and we both rushed to the hospital but on getting there, we found out that Kaka had died.
“Interestingly, he was accused of wearing military attire but when we got to the hospital where he was taken to and laid, Kazeem had his club’s jersey and shorts on.”
Conflicting reports about Tiamiyu’s killing
But Kaka’s friend and teammate, Abubakar Sanni, who was said to be with him when the incident occurred, narrated how he was killed by operatives of SARS.
In his narration, Sanni said they were arrested on the suspicion that they were internet fraudsters (aka ‘Yahoo boys’).
He added that Tiamiyu was pushed out of the vehicle by the officers who were inside a Gold colour Toyota Sienna minivan.
“We came out on Saturday morning to go to Kaka’s father’s house. We stopped at Ita Oba roundabout to get engine oil for Kaka’s car. He left me in the car.
“Then the SARS officers in a Gold Sienna minivan parked in front of our car. One of them alighted from the vehicle and started questioning me on who I was, my mission at that spot and who owned the car. I told them the car belonged to my friend. When he asked where he was, I told him he was getting something.
“He asked for my phone and my friend’s phone. They asked me to explain things about the phone. He collected the phone from me and gave the phone to his colleagues in the Sienna.
“When Kaka came back from where he got the engine oil, he was taken and put inside the Sienna vehicle. And they said they were taking us to their headquarters.
“They drove us towards their Area Command (at Iperu junction). We asked them to stop there but they said they were taking us to their headquarters.
“They did not stop until we got past Nestle Plc. It was then they started asking us questions again.
“The officer that drove Kaka’s vehicle where I was stopped came out of the vehicle and opened the bonnet of the car. I wanted to alight but he stopped me and threatened me with his gun. The Sienna was in front of me.
“I saw that the door of the Sienna was opened and they pushed my friend out of the moving vehicle into the road. A vehicle that was coming behind us hit him. Kaka then tried to cross to the other lane.
“I came out of the vehicle crying for help so that he could be taken to the hospital.
“The officers took him and put him in his car because they didn’t want to put him in their vehicle.
“We drove to a nearby hospital but the attendants there couldn’t treat him. They referred us to the General Hospital, Owode.
“An Okada man who led us was in the back of the vehicle with Kaka while I was seated beside one of the SARS officers who drove Kaka’s vehicle.
“When we got to the hospital, we couldn’t find the Sienna vehicle that was hitherto behind us. We took Kaka into the hospital and dropped him on the floor before we were asked to put him on the hospital bed. At that point, I couldn’t find the SARS officer who drove our car.
“I went outside to look for him and met him making calls outside the hospital. I asked about the whereabouts of his colleagues who were not at the hospital but he was moving to the gate.
“I ran after him and held him. He was with his gun at that time. I held him by the waist and people at the hospital came out to assist in holding him.”
However, the police’s statement stated that he (Kazeem) was knocked down by a hit-and-run driver and not by a policeman as widely reported.
The statement read: “Based on the information, the inspector went to Sagamu and saw the deceased putting on a military cap consequent upon which he got him arrested.
“On the way to Abeokuta, the vehicle they were travelling in developed a mechanical fault and while the officer was trying to rectify the fault, the arrested person jumped down from the vehicle to escape.
“In his bid to run across the road, an oncoming vehicle which was on high speed knocked him down and he died on the spot.
The statement was made available to newsmen by the state Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Abimbola Oyeyemi in Abeokuta on Sunday.
Akarigbo expresses grief
The Akarigbo of Sagamu and paramount ruler of Remoland, Oba Babatunde Adewale also berated the unfortunate incident and expressed his grief over the loss of the young professional footballer.
The monarch urged the government to curb the activities of SARS operatives, decrying several unjust and illegal arrests done by the operatives.
While emphasizing the need for justice to be served on the culprits in Kazeem’s killing, he besought the Ogun state governor to provide employment opportunities for teeming youths.
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We won’t accept police extra-judicial killings, harassment, others — Gbajabiamila
SPEAKER of the House of Representatives, Honourable Femi Gbajabiamila, on Tuesday, bemoaned the terrible level to which the Nigerian policemen have degenerated in their activities, saying that the citizenry now dreads them the same way they fear criminals.
Hon. Gbajabiamila chided the Nigeria Police over recurring cases of extrajudicial killings, harassment, intimidation and other forms of violence unleashed on innocent citizens across the country.
Gbajabiamila expressed the concern while declaring open a public hearing on ‘Repositioning of Nigeria Police for enhanced service delivery’, organised by the House Committee on Police Affairs, chaired by Honourable Usman Kumo.
Speaking, Gbajabiamila particularly bemoaned the alleged extrajudicial killing of a footballer by men of the Nigeria Police in Sagamu, Ogun State, last weekend.
“It is unfortunate and entirely unacceptable that the relationship between the police and many of these communities are now defined by fear, mutual antagonism and an absolute loss of faith in the ability of the police to protect and to serve.
“In the last few days, we have all witnessed as the city of Sagamu in Ogun State has been unsettled by an orgy of violence resulting from the extrajudicial killing of a young footballer by officers of the Nigerian Police.
“Citizens who gathered to protest this killing were soon themselves at the receiving end of police bullets. This is not an isolated incident. We are daily inundated with news reports of interactions between citizens and the police resulting in the injury and death of those citizens.
“Reports of police harassment of young people have become so rampant that they barely even break through the news cycle except when public anger becomes so great that it results in a breakdown of law and order.
“We can no longer stand for this, and we will not. This House of Representatives has a responsibility to speak for our citizens and we will continue to do so even when it is inconvenient.
“When the public are as afraid of the police as they are of the criminals, and perhaps even more so, the very fundamentals of our nationhood are at stake. We are confronted with an urgent need, deserving of our utmost attention and dedication, he said.
“We must fix the Nigeria Police, restore public confidence and make the institution once more deserving of the true faith and support of the Nigerian people.
“This public hearing has been convened to examine the ways we in the House of Representatives can act to improve the capacity of the Nigerian Police to deliver on its obligations to our people.
“We cannot do that job effectively if we do not first allow for an honest assessment of our current reality. We will not achieve much of substance if we shy away from confronting the failures of recruitment and training, remuneration and welfare, responsibility and accountability that have left us with a national police force that is too often unfit for purpose,” Gbajabiamila said.
Inspector behind Kazeem’s death arrested, detained – Gov Abiodun
In his condolence visit to the deceased footballer’s parents on Tuesday morning, Governor Dapo Abiodun vowed that since the incident happened, the state government had left no stone unturned to get to the root of Kazeem’s death.
Governor Abiodun said the Inspector behind the incident had been arrested and is currently being detained.
“The Secretary to the State Government (SSG) was here to address the youths alongside the Akarigbo of Remoland and Otunba Gbenga Daniel while we closely monitor the situation.
“I want to emphasise that the policemen who were responsible for this incident were not part of the Ogun State Police Command, they were men of Zonal Intervention Squad, under the Assistant Inspector General of Police Lagos/Ogun.
“However, that Saturday, when the incident was reported to me, I called the state’s Commissioner of Police, Kenneth Ebrimson, and I instructed him to arrest all the policemen that were involved in the incident. I want to assure you that the Inspector involved in the incident that has been arrested, they are currently being detained,” Abiodun said.
Abiodun enjoined the people to be law-abiding and that the appropriate punishment will be meted out to the culprit(s) as soon as possible.
“Unfortunately, emotions were expectedly high, the youths in Sagamu took to the street letting some unscrupulous elements attempt to take advantage of the situation.
“This is rather unfortunate, My prayer this morning is that the Lord himself will console this family. This journey of life is a journey where God himself is the one that gives life.
“He’s the one that knows when our time is up as we all have our exit point. I don’t have a doubt that God has allowed this for a reason. My prayer is that God will give you the heart to bear this irreparable loss and will console the rest of his siblings,” he prayed.