FAMILY and friends of a lecturer in the University of Ibadan, Professor Opeyemi Isaac Ajewole, who was murdered in Ibadan, Oyo State, on Monday night, have continued to express shock and disbelief, with tears strewing their faces. The incident has also continued to generate comments, as people wonder on what could have caused the killing of someone belonging to academic world.
The University of Ibadan, where Prof. Ajewole worked until his gruesome killing, has been grieving since the incident occurred, with his department, Social and Environmental Forestry, and the Faculty of Renewable Natural Resources, under which his department falls, wearing mournful looks. When the Nigerian Tribune visited the department on Wednesday, the deceased’s colleagues were gathered, talking in hushed tones, as, later learnt, they were preparing to pay a condolence visit to the bereaved family.
Nigerian Tribune was also at the residence of the deceased at Duku Close, Orogun, Ibadan, where scores of sympathisers were seen commiserating with the deceased’s wife, Mrs Yemisi Ajewole.
Sitting on a sofa with the support of family members and friends around her, the wife now turned widow kept a stoic look, welcoming the thronging sympathisers. Among them were the Dean of Faculty of Renewable Natural Resources, Prof. Abiodun Oluwadare; the Head of Department, Social and Environmental Forestry, Prof Ismail Azeez; and lecturers in all the departments under the faculty.
In Nigerian Tribune’s findings from the family and a credible source, the lecturer was already at the gate of his house when the gunshot was heard. The assailants, it was further learnt, came in a gold colour Toyota Camry (Big Daddy). A source close to the scene of the scene reportedly heard a shout: “Come back here.” What followed was the sound of the gunshot, after which doors of cars were slammed and the assailants sped off.
With the thought that it was a kidnap case, the family ran to the police station at Ojoo to lodge a report. On learning of it, the Commissioner of Police, Adebowale Williams, reportedly ordered patrol teams to take positions while others started patrolling the adjoining areas in search for the victim so as to rescue him.
It was further gathered that not long after, the police operatives eventually found the lecturer’s body by the roadside at Ebedi area, along Ibadan-Oyo Road. The white polo shirt he was wearing had turned red with his blood, while there was a gaping hole in front of his head on the left side. He was lifeless.
Speaking during the condolence visit, Prof Bamidele Omitoyin said: “We have come to commiserate with our sister, the children and the entire family. It’s a rude shock to all of us. There is no gainsaying, as we are all pained. However, it has happened because if it had not happened, we could have prevented it.”
He philosophised: “We came to this part (world) one day, and a day of departure will come. Nobody knows when, how and the exact time. We are all living corpses.”
He also said that no one could query God. “God has given, God has allowed him to be taken back, and we will continually give glory to Him. The only thing is that his memory will linger in our hearts for many years. To the wife and children particularly, it is going to be very long because he had always been part of their lives,” Prof. Omitoyin stated.
He however said that in spite of the vacuum created by the sudden loss of the head of the family, “I assure you that God of heaven will take care of you and the children, and will also fill the vacuum.”
Describing the sudden death of their colleague as a big loss to the faculty, Omitoyin said: “Prof. Ajewole was one of the most popular figure, not only in our faculty but in the university. He never had a dull moment. He was not the type that would take anything to heart. This makes his death so painful to everyone.”
The Dean, Prof. Oluwadare, in his part, read Psalm 69, using it to place condemnation on the Professor’s killers. He prayed for comfort on all family members, relations and friends. He also prayed that such a thing should not occur again to anyone and that whatever the killers set up for themselves over the killing should become a trap for them. In addition , he prayed for the exposure of those who committed the dastardly act.
Speaking with the Nigerian Tribune on the incident, the deceased’s son, Tomiwa, narrated: “My mother and I were inside when we heard a sound like gunshot. We were both spooked by the weird sound.
“Again, we heard the sound of car. We thought Daddy was back because he was the one who typically opened the gate by himself. We decided to go and check what was happening. As I was about to step out, we heard car doors being slammed. The next I saw was the reverse light of the car. By that time, I was already outside. I looked over the fence and saw a car driving away fast. I stepped outside our compound and chased the car barefooted. I was sure something was wrong.
“I went back inside, got a key to another car to pursue them. We were stopped by local security men who were also alarmed. From there, we went to the police station. Later, I guess the police got some information. They called one of us outside and showed him some pictures, but they didn’t tell us anything at that time. The person told it was someone else. They told us to go home and get the car documents.
“When we got back home, we saw blood on the ground outside our gate, with his UI identity card and two ATM cards. We got in touch with our Reverend and he was the one who came to break the news to us.”
Also, a sister to the widow, Mrs Toyin Falana, said: “I just got a call that my brother-in-law was missing; that he was taken away in his car. After about an hour, I got another call that his dead body had been found. He left his office in UI for home when it happened by his gate at about 8pm.”
In an interview with the Dean, he said: “The news was a shock to everyone of us. It was never expected. He was an amiable man to colleagues, students and even the university as a whole. He was full of honour and integrity. He was former Hall Warden and had served in several positions and currently in Senate of the university before his killing. We will surely miss him, but God knows the best.”
The HOD, Department, Social and Environmental Forestry, Prof. Ismail Azeez, who also expressed sadness over the untimely death of his colleague, said: The backbone of the department has just been cut off. There was no way you would interact with Ajewole when something is bothering you and the problem would not be dissipated. My worry is why someone who always brought joy to other people would meet this kind of death.
“Aside his academic colleagues, talk to any cadre of staff, they would tell you the kind of person he was. But who are we to query God? We only take solace in the fact that he will take care of the rest of us.”
Born in March 6, 1962, Professor Ajewole, popularly called ‘Iroko’, who hailed from Igbara Oke in Osun State, celebrated his 60th birthday last year with fanfare. He was said to be the immediate past HOD of his department. He was a devout Christian and member of Men of Issachar Vision Ministry before he was murdered.
As at the time of filing this report, it was learnt that the car of the deceased, a Toyota Corolla with registration number APP 53 HT had yet to be recovered from the assailants who drove it away after dumping his corpse on the roadside.