Ganiyu Oluwole symbolised hard work and resilience. A commercial driver shuttling between Ifo in Ogun State and Oshodi area of Lagos, he faced the risks on the road every other day to put food on the table for his wife and three little kids.
The 34-year-old man never shied away from his responsibilities as the breadwinner despite the prevailing hard times. Sadly, the tragic turn of events on Thursday, February 6, 2020, brought his life to an abrupt end and exposed his wife and children–aged five, two and nine months–to the harsh realities, he toiled to shield them from.
That day, Oluwole returned home around 6pm. He quickly had a bath and headed for a neighbouring street alongside his five-year-old daughter to buy some ingredients his wife would use to prepare dinner he never lived to take.
After purchasing the food items, he accompanied the girl home half-way and returned to the street to have some fun at a drinking joint before he would retire to bed.
About two hours into the bustle, the bubble spot turned to a bloody scene. Oluwole was the sole victim. Two hoodlums identified as Mustapha Sodiq aka Golf and another identified as Obasanjo, pummelled him and smashed his head on the floor.
Saturday PUNCH learnt that the father of three got into trouble with the thugs following a disagreement between him and the operator of the drinking joint over N50 change.
He was said to have jokingly poured some drink on the woman for refusing to give him change but the act reportedly angered Golf and Obasanjo, who descended on him. He was beaten to a pulp.
He was rushed from one hospital to another, before he eventually gave up the ghost at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital in Ikeja in the early hours of Friday.
Since then, grief had enveloped his household on Oduwole Adeniyi Street, Gbeleyi, in the Alakuko area of Lagos.
“See my son,” the deceased’s 60-year-old father, Adeniji, wailed as he showed our correspondent Oluwole’s photograph.
Adeniji said, “He returned from work around 6pm that day, had his bath and left home with his daughter for Orija Street. He bought the food items his wife would cook and the girl returned home
“Golf and Obasanjo attacked him at the drinking joint. We rushed him to different hospitals but he was rejected. He died at the Ikeja General Hospital. We reported the case at the Alakuko Police Station and Golf was arrested.”
The retired soldier said he depended on Oluwole to make ends meet, adding that his death had left him devastated.
“Obasanjo is still on the run. He should also be arrested and prosecuted. He was the one taking care of me. I don’t have money to be moving around to pursue the case. I want the government to do justice on it,” he added, staring at the picture in tears.
He continued, “I learnt the disagreement started between Ganiyu (Oluwole) and the woman running the joint over N50 change. They usually played with each other. He wanted to collect N50 change from her but she refused to give him. He then poured little drink on her. Golf and Obasanjo intervened and beat him up. They hit his head on the floor. He died the following morning.”
The appearance of Afusat, Oluwole’s mother, was both languid and pathetic. Her eyes had become red and swollen by persistent wailing. She sat helplessly at a corner of his husband’s drab room, lost in deep thoughts.
“Who will take care of his children?” the 53-year-old woman asked faintly, trying to stifle some tears. “I usually put off my phone at 10pm till the next morning,” she began to narrate after heaving a sigh.
“Immediately I turned it on at 7am, I received a call. I was told Ganiyu (Oluwole) was attacked and he could not talk. He had died then but they didn’t want to tell me. I can’t explain how I got to Alakuko from my house in Ifo.
“He is survived by three little children. Who will take care of them? He didn’t joke with the upkeep of his wife and children and he was kind to all family members. They just snatched him from us,” she concluded amid tears.
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At another corner of the room, Oluwole’s wife, Odunayo, cut a distraught posture. The 26-year-old mother could not hide the grief that had taken the better part of her in the last couple of days. She could hardly believe the death of a man she had vowed to live with for the rest of her life.
“When he came from work that day, he went directly to the bathroom,” Odunayo explained, holding her baby tightly.
“He asked me to put the clothes he would wear at the passage and I did. When he was done, he didn’t enter the room. He dressed up and left with our daughter to buy ingredients of the stew I wanted to prepare for dinner. I was even telling him not to go out. He followed the girl half-way home and went back. Some minutes later, he sent someone to collect money from me,” she explained.
Odunayo said she told the person she didn’t have money, thinking that her husband would be forced to return home.
She added, “When he didn’t come back home around 10pm, I went to the joint and met him sitting on a chair. His face had swollen and there was water all over his body. I asked people I met there what happened but they didn’t say anything. He managed to tell me to go home.”
The widow never took the situation seriously until few minutes later when Oluwole staggered home and collapsed at the backyard, excreting on his body. In hours that followed, at LASUTH, she watched helplessly as her husband breathed his last.
“He was not a troublesome person; they just killed him and threw the family into suffering. I don’t know how I would cope with the three children he left behind,” she said, crying uncontrollably.
The Lagos State Police Public Relations Officer, DSP Bala Elkana, who confirmed the incident, said one of the suspects had been arrested, adding that a manhunt had been lunched for the accomplice.
He said the case had been transferred to the State Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department, Yaba, Panti, for proper investigation.