Sunday, July 28, 2013

In remembrance of ‘OAU five’

George Akinyemi Iwilade a.k.a afrika
Every July 10, students of the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) in Ile-Ife, Osun State remember their  five  union leaders allegedly killed by cultists on the campus in 1999. Fourteen years after, the memories of the slain students still linger in their colleagues’ hearts. SIKIRU AKINOLA, KEMI BUSARI (400-Level Political Science), OLUWAFEMI OGUNJOBI (400-Level Language Arts) and OLUFUNMINIYI SALAWU (400-Level History) report.

Barely two months after the return of democracy in 1999, tragedy hit the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) in Ile-Ife, Osun State. Five students were allegedly shot dead by members of Black Axe Confraternity, believed to have been sponsored from within the university.
George Akinyemi Iwilade, fondly called Afrika, 21-year old 400-Level Law student, who was then the General Secretary of the Students’ Union Government (SUG), Eviano Ekeimu, 400-Level Medicine, Yemi Ajiteru, an extra year student, Babatunde Oke, 100-Level Philosophy, and Godfrey Ekpede, were killed in Blocks 5 and 8 of Awolowo Hall on July 10, 1999.
Fourteen years after, their blood has continued to water the flower of freedom on the campus.
The attack was carried out in the wee hours of the fateful day. The late George, it was gathered, had returned to his room 273, Block 8 in Awolowo Hall after a ceremony at Awo café around 4:15 am. Thirty minutes later, the assailants, led by a student from another university, struck, using machete to leave a deep cut on George’s head before shooting him in the forehead.
The second victim, Yemi, was asleep when he was shot in the stomach. He died instantly. The killing of other victims was no less gruesome as they were attacked on different locations of the campus before the assailants took to their heels.
The following day, the cultists were apprehended through the effort of an informant, a commercial driver, who drove them to a hotel at Ile-Ife after the attack. The cultists confessed to the crime and claimed their sponsor was an insider in the university.
The then Vice-Chancellor, Prof Wale Omole, was relieved of his appointment after a recommendation by a panel of enquiry headed by Prof Tunde Adeniran set up by the Federal Government.
On October 29, 2002, a state high court sitting in Iwo discharged the accused because the prosecutor could not prove their culpability beyond reasonable doubts.
The students were reportedly killed because of the anti-cultism crusade they championed on campus. Before their death, the victims publicly disgraced top nine members of the Black Axe confraternity in March 1999, who were arrested at the university quarters. The cultists’ colleagues from other campuses launched an attack on the students on July 10, which coincided with the Kegites Day.
On July 20, the remains of the slain students were interred at the university cemetery. Thousands of mourners including lecturers, parents, journalists, market women and students attended the funeral. A philanthropist donated coffins for the burial.
As a mark of honour, the victims are remembered every July 10.
In the absence of the Students Union, the Kegites’ Club in conjunction with Students’ Security Committee, Man O’ War and other students’ movements, held a rally to commemorate the murder of the students penultimate Wednesday.
At 7pm, the Anglo-Moz Car Park hosted the regular students, who did not go on semester break. Candidates, who came to write entrance examination, watch in awe as a procession of students moved round the campus amid drama and chanting of solidarity songs.
The remembrance kicked-off with melodious songs by the Kegites’ members. The Man O’ War cadets also thrilled the crowd with their paramilitary stunts around a bonfire.
The event took a different turn at 8:30pm during the candle-light procession. The students, who were initially lively, became moody as they moved from the Anglo-Moz car park to the Students’ Union Building (SUB), which they took as a symbol of resistance against cultism.
The crowd moved slowly through the school’s health centre to the stretch which connects Halls of Residence. Notable student-activists and personalities that graced the event included Hassan Taiwo, National Coordinator, Education Rights Campaign (ERC), Oluwatobi Sofowora, a Botany graduate, Kingsley Ogunne, Wale Owolabi, Aderemi Ojekunle, President, Association of Campus Journalists (ACJ), OAU chapter. They all extolled the doggedness of the slain “comrades”, while urging their colleagues to keep the spirit alive.
“Afrika fought for a just cause before he was murdered. We should not take this sacrifice for a ride but be quick to point out injustice and always stand for what is right,” Oluwatobi urged the students.
Kingsley, a former Assistant General Secretary of the SUG, explained how Afrika went to classes as a Law student in native attires, ignoring the white and black legal uniform made compulsory for Law students.A former student, Oluwaloseyi Babaeko, urged the Inspector-General of Police, Muhammed Abubakar, to re-open the case to ensure justice is done to the slain students.

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