Twenty (20) years after, the memories of the slain students still linger in their colleagues’ hearts.
The Obafemi Awolowo University massacre was a series of shootings and murders which took place against students of Obafemi Awolowo University in Ile-Ife, Osun State, Nigeria on Saturday, July 10, 1999.
It resulted in the deaths of five people and left eleven others injured, all of whom were students of OAU.
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 July 10, 1999.
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.
It was perpetrated by an organized death squad of 40 members of the Black Axe Confraternity branch at the university.
They invaded the Awolowo Hall of the university at around 4:30 A.M., clad in black trousers and black T-shirts, their faces hidden by masks; they carried and made use of shotguns and hatchets against students.
Twenty years after, their blood has continued to water the flower of freedom on the campus.
ACCOUNT OF THE ATTACK
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, and today makes it 20 years since the gory action happened.
Prof. Roger Makanjuola writes: “Tunde Oke was still alive but died on the operating table. Four others, George Iwilade, Yemi Ajiteru, Efe Ekede and Eviano Ekelemu, were brought in dead. Eviano Ekelemu bled to death from gunshot wounds to the groin and thigh. The other three died from gunshot wounds to the head.”
During the attack several accounts state the Black Axe members were heard to be “shouting, “Legacy, come out!”” referring to the suspended Students’ Union President, Lanre Adeleke.
Prof. Roger Makanjuola’s account states the same and he also writes: “During the course of the incident, the attackers also shouted the names of “Afrika”, George Iwilade, and “Dexter”, the Chief of the Kegites, demanding that they come out.”
Of the targets of the massacre, Lanre Adeleke (Legacy) managed to escape by jumping from a balcony after hearing the gunfire. “Dexter”, the Chief of the Kegites, also escaped unharmed.
George Iwilade (Afrika), the Secretary-General of the Students’ Union and a Law student was not so lucky. Upon entering his room the Black Axe “shot him immediately in the head. Then they smashed his head with their axe to make sure he was dead”.
It is reported George Iwilade (Afrika) was the only successfully assassinated victim. “Afrika, who was said to have carried out the arrest (relating to the incident on Saturday, 7 March 1999), was mercilessly butchered while the other four were just unfortunate victims”.
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.
Watch the full interview of “Legacy” former SUG President, 1999 below:-
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