Police took my son’s press ID, killed him on duty –Mother of 20-year-old journalist 

Mrs Bose Onifade is the mother of Pelumi Onifade, a 20-year-old journalist, who was allegedly killed by the police in Lagos State in October 2020. She shares her pains with TOBI AWORINDE

How did you hear about the death of your son, Pelumi?

On Saturday, October 24, he went to work. He was a journalist. There was no fighting here. Suddenly, the police arrived in a Black Maria, got out and started throwing bottles and shooting. He was a young man and had never experienced that kind of thing before, so he ran. The house he ran to had been locked so he ran back. That was how they grabbed him and shot him. They carried him away. We were looking for him all over the place till Saturday, October 31, when I got the news that his dead body was found at a mortuary in Ikorodu, Lagos State. They had removed the press identity card on his neck. He was taken all the way from Abattoir area, Agege to Ikorodu.

Who told you the body was found in the mortuary?

The person who told me works with Gboah TV, where Pelumi also worked. Also, elders in our church had been looking for him for one week. On that Saturday, he went to work and in the evening, I heard he hadn’t returned, so everyone started looking for him. They kept looking for him until Thursday with no success. When I didn’t hear anything from them, on Thursday, I went out on my own. I went to Ikeja but didn’t see him. The same thing happened on Friday. Then they told me that they had heard about his death since Monday but didn’t want to tell me. They wanted to be sure that he was dead because he went out alive, so how could he be dead? Then on October 31, they told me they saw his body at the mortuary in Ikorodu. They had removed the press ID from his neck.

Is it true that he went to report on a warehouse for COVID-19 palliatives that was on the verge of being looted?

He went there but they had not opened the warehouse. What I heard is that the Divisional Police Officer, Abattoir called those people to come. There were people who had gathered and that was what they said – that the DPO called them.

Do you know the police officer that was said to have shot him?

They have not shown the man to us because they didn’t allow me to follow them. The name of the officer that led them is Akerele. I heard that, immediately they were getting out of the Black Maria, they were throwing bottles and shooting. Unfortunately, I didn’t follow them or see the man. How could I see the man who shot my son and not do anything?

Is it true that your son was accompanied by a colleague to the warehouse?

There were two of them. His colleague said he was shouting and showing them his press ID card, but the police collected the ID card from him and beat him up. They said if he didn’t leave, they would shoot him dead. He had to run away.

Did Pelumi’s colleague see the police shoot your son?

I don’t know. It was his boss and the elders in the church that asked around for him because I am a single parent; Pelumi’s father is not with me. I have single-handedly raised my children for about 10 years. He was about to get into Junior Secondary School 1 when his father left me. In July, he turned 20. I am the one who took responsibility for Pelumi’s education up to university level. He was a student of Tai Solarin University of Education.

What course was he studying?

He was studying Mass Communication and was in 200 level.

How many years had he been working with Gboah TV?

He started working there before he completed his secondary education. When he returned from school, he would go to meet the Gboah TV boss in church because the office is close to the church.

Does Pelumi have younger siblings?

I have two other children. His younger sisters are 15 and 10 years old. He was the only boy.

What is your occupation?

I clean people’s houses, help them to buy things for the home and cook.

Has a burial been planned for Pelumi?

They have not released his body to us because the press ID was removed. I called the church elder, who is in charge and he said the lawyer would let us know more about it tomorrow (Saturday).

Aside from the release of his body, what do you want?

He was barely old enough to take care of things in the home; now, they have killed him. Where do they want me to start from? The boy was innocent. In fact, he was the kind that would not say anything if you beat him. If you lay your hands on him, he would be laughing. He was not arrogant in any way.

Did the police accuse him of any wrongdoing?

They didn’t say he was a criminal; they said it was because of the way he was running. When Pelumi and his colleague covered everything going on there, they said there was no fight; there was no ‘area boy’ (hoodlum) around. I was told that a bottle that was thrown hit a woman my son was interviewing in the back. It was probably out of fear that he ran because he had not seen that kind of thing before.

Where was he shot?

I’ve not seen him. They didn’t allow me to follow them to see him.

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