My mum says a prayer every morning, she says and I quote, ‘the day the road wants to suck blood, may I not be on the road and the day death will come visiting, may I not be at home’
Nobody knows the day he or she will die, but we all pray that it meets us well and it meets us doing good.
July 10, 1999 is a day that will never be forgotten in the history of OAU. It’s a day that every student of OAU will forever wish never existed in the calender. July 10, OAU lost 5 glorious students to death from Axe-wielding cultists. George Iwilade (Afrika), Yemi Ajiteru, Efe Ekede, Eviano Ekelemu and Tunde Oke, who later died on the operating table, are the names of those who lost their lives that fateful night.
As much as I’d like to discuss the whole story, I realized that it’s been talked about already so many times so I’ll just do something different.
I’ll be explaining ten (10) things you probably didn’t know about the sad event. But before I proceed, I’d like you to take a one-minute pause, especially if you’re an OAU student, as a sign of respect to these heroes who lost their lives for you to have a safe and secured campus.
Thank you for honouring my request.
Let’s move on
- Nine (9) members of the Black Axe Confraternity were initially paraded by the Students Union before being handed over to the police?
According to Prof. Roger Makanjuola’s book, ‘Water must flow uphill’, “On Saturday, 7 March 1999, a group of Black Axe members held a meeting in Ife town. After the meeting, they drove back to the campus. On the main road, Road 1, leading into the campus, they were overtaken by some students in another car. For whatever reason, they were enraged and gave chase to the students. The students, seeing them in pursuit, raced hastily to the car park outside Angola Hall and ran into the adjacent Awolowo Hall for safety.
The Students’ Union, which had also received information that secret cult members were gathering in a house in the senior staff quarters, mobilised in response to the incident. Led by George Iwilade, the Secretary-General, a group of them drove to the house, officially occupied by Mr. F.M. Mekoma, and forced their way into the boys’ quarters. They found nine individuals inside, eight of them students of the University, with a submachine gun, a locally manufactured gun, an axe, a bayonet and the black clothing and regalia of the Black Axe cult. The University authorities were informed, and the members of the secret cult were handed over to the Police. They were held in police custody and taken to the Chief Magistrate’s Court where two weeks later they were granted bail.” From this account, we can successfully deduce that the Nigerian Police Force contributed to the killing of these students! How can a grievous allegation like cultism be treated like it is maggi theft. One thing is for sure, the Nigerian Police Force failed all OAU students.
- After they were released, these cult members returned to campus to continue their normal lives and the school management failed to take appropriate measures against them. The school went on a break and returned and these cultists resumed too. All they did was issue ‘releases’ and that, obviously, changed nothing.
The student Union executives, which included Afrika, were the targets of the cultists. The other students who lost their lives, Yemi Ajiteru – a part 2 religious studies student, Efe Ekede – a part 2 psychology student, Tunde Oke – a part 1 student of Philosophy and Eviano Ekelemu – 400 level medical student – were just collateral damage.
After carrying out the attacks and not finding the persons they came for, the cultists moved from Awo hall through the bush beside Fajuyi to their cars and left the campus unchallenged. It is believed that the security officials at the gate got scared and left their duty posts making it a easy exit for the perpetrators.
Days after the event, students were rallied by Lanre Adeleke (Legacy), the then students’ Union president and they went to town searching for the perpetrators in locations where cult members were thought to be living. They “arrested” three individuals and brought them back to Awolowo Hall. These were Aisekhaghe Aikhile, a Part I student of Agricultural Economics, Emeka Ojuagu, and Frank Idahosa (Efosa). Efosa and Ojuagu were arrested in a public transport vehicle that was about to leave Ife. The three of them were savagely beaten and tortured in Awolowo Hall. One of them died in the course of torture.
Kazeem Bello, whose cult name was Kato, confessed that Wale Omole, the then Vice-chancellor of the university, was responsible and sponsored the cultist attack. This isn’t surprising considering the fact that before this dreadful event, Wale Omole was always protecting the cultists and never heeding to the requests of the student Union and never considering the safety of other students. It is a known fact that no cultist was punished during his time as VC. Wale Omole was suspended from his role on the 14th of July 1999.
On 18 July 1999, Prof. Roger Makanjuola was appointed vice chancellor and as replacement to Professor Wale Omole. He promised the students of Obafemi Awolowo University he would do everything in his power to bring the perpetrators to justice. He did try to find justice but it seems like the police weren’t interested in pursuing the case.
The interrogations further revealed that 22 Black Axe members were involved, six from the University, four from the University of Lagos, four from the University of Ibadan, and eight from the University of Calabar.
Two movies have been made about this event. In 2005, a Nollywood movie titled :Dugbe Dugbe’, written and produced by the famous Yoruba movie star, Bukky Wright and a 2016 movie titled, ‘Omo University‘. The writer and producer are currently unknown as at the time of writing this article.
Today makes it 21 years since this event took place. They may be dead but they will forever be remembered. OAU cannot tell its story without the 5 students who made it what it is today – The safest and most secured Federal University in Nigeria.
It is however unfortunate that apart from the yearly remembrance and the stories that have been passed down, OAU has not tried to honour these people in any other way. I suggest a lecture theatre be named after them or a statue be erected and named after them. That way, we’ll preserve their heroic memories
Forever in our hearts.
NOTE: This is a re-modified version of a Wikipedia post. You can go read the detailed explanation of the events there.