The news of the gruesome murder of the Fatinloye family in Ogun State on New Year day left a most horrendous memory for many. YINKA OLUKOYA, in this piece, reports church members’ recollection of the last moments spent with the slain family during a crossover service before their death.
Like every other person, the late Mr. Kehinde and Mrs. Bukunola Fatinloye had expectations, aspirations and desires as they welcomed 2023, not until they were gruesomely murdered, set ablaze by suspected hired assassins, at their residence within the precinct of Ibara Government Reservation Area of Abeokuta. The news of their murder was perhaps one of the worst nightmares to herald the New Year.
The unfortunate happened shortly after they returned from a crossover service at Christ Anglican Church, Iporo-Ake, to usher in the New Year. The couple who had just overcome the loss of their second child, who passed in July 2022, was attacked by unknown persons for reasons which still remain a mystery. What could they have done to deserve this kind of death was one of the questions agitating the minds of family members and sympathisers who thronged their residence to confirm the incident.
Some of their church members who saw them during the service were still in shock as to what could be the reason the family had to be wiped out by their assailants. They were said to be in high spirit during the service with no inkling that death was lurking at the corner.
The late Mr. Fatinloye (56) worked with the Central Bank of Nigeria, while his late wife, Bukunola (50) was said to be a confidential secretary in the service of the Federal University of Agriculture Abeokuta (FUNAAB).
There was no information about how the Fatinloye assailants gained entry into their residence, as some believed that they might have been trailed from the church to their home, while some were of the thought that the killers could have gained access to the premises by scaling the fence.
It was learnt that the assailants captured the only surviving child of the deceased couple, Oreoluwa, and a maid. The duo was reported to have been thrown into a river in Adigbe area of Abeokuta.
When the Nigerian Tribune visited the area on Tuesday, the black gate leading to the house was under lock, with no traces of anyone around. There were no family members or neighbours around the scene of the incident.
Speaking with our correspondent, a fellow church member where the deceased family worshipped, Mr. Collins Sotonwa, described the killing of the Fatinloyes as an act of callousness on the part of those behind it. He wondered why the entire family was wiped out by those that he described as “evil doers.”
Sotonwa described the couple as easy going souls and generous ones. He said he was still in disbelief that the couple and their first child, Oreoluwa, had gone just in a twinkle of an eye.
While the Bishop of Egba (Anglican Communion), Rt. Revd. (Dr) Emmanuel Adekunle, said he was yet to come of out the shocking incident, he said that the entire Diocese of Egba is still at an unease with the development, urging the state government and all security agencies to unravel the mystery behind their killings.
Bishop Adekunle said, “As the leader of the Church, I am yet to come over the shocking news. My members are down with this development. We urge our government and all security operatives to bring the people behind these killings to justice. For someone or a gang to wipe out a family is more than wickedness. We are depending on God to reveal those behind the act.”
Our correspondent gathered that the late Mrs. Fatinloye put a distress call to some people before they were killed by the gunmen. The late couple was described and known to be peaceful and went about their business with care and dignity. They were described by their church members to be generous and lovable people.
Some of the church members who spoke under the condition of anonymity said the deceased couple thoroughly enjoyed the crossover service as they danced with glee and delight while welcoming the New Year.
Their corpses were laid to rest at a burial ground located at Lantoro area of Abeokuta, on Monday, hours after the incident, shortly after a farewell service held at Christ Anglican Church, Iporo-Ake, Abeokuta.
The church was filled to capacity as their friends, families and other sympathisers attended the service in honour of the Fatinloyes. Reverend S.K Oyewale, in his sermon, lamented the killings of the couple and equally called for justice. He advised security agencies to carry out a thorough investigation into the matter in order to unravel those behind the act.
While the maid was said to have escaped, Oreoluwa was not lucky, as his decomposing body was discovered on the river bank two days after the incident by a fisherman. His corpse was committed to mother earth at the same cemetery where his parents were buried on Tuesday evening.
Meanwhile, the police, in the state, have confirmed the arrest of one person in connection to the killings of the Fatinloyes. The state Police Public Relations Officer, SP Abimbola Oyeyemi vowed that those behind the act would be brought to book. He hinted that the command has set the ball rolling by deploying a team of crack detectives to investigate the matter.