A 35-year-old baker, Hanofi Taofeek, and his wife, Taiwo, were hit by Arinze Okafor, an intoxicated commercial bus driver, as they were returning home on December 9, 2022 at Iludun street in the Amukoko area of the lakes state. Unfortunately, Hanofi was killed instantly, while Taiwo slipped into a coma as a result of her numerous injuries. In this interview with OLAMIDE FAMUWAGUN, the widow mourns the death of her husband with a great fervor for justice
Can you introduce yourself?
My name is Taiwo Taofeek Olawale. I am 29 years old and I went to school at the Federal Polytechnic of Bida, Niger State, as a ND student. During that time, I met my husband, Hanofi Taofeek Olawale; we started our relationship at school and were married for three years. I’m a trader
Can you tell us about the incident and how you feel about it?
Around 11 pm my husband and I were heading home after I closed up for the day. My husband works as a manager in a bakery, while I sell noodles. He usually came to my store so we could both go home together. We were on the sidewalk when a bus hit us from behind and my husband died instantly. Since the incident happened, I have felt very bad; I haven’t even been myself until now. I am very unhappy. How could I have lost someone I had been with for three years? We always did everything together. I thought about it yesterday and started crying.
Now that I’m the only one in the room, there’s no one to talk or play with. My husband and I were very close and never had any reason to fight. Until now, I keep thinking about it, and I haven’t controlled myself.
Every day I think about it: I’m stranded and I have nothing left; it was my husband who provided us with everything. Whenever he needed money or anything, he was always there to provide it. My neighbors have been doing everything they can, giving me food and supplies and everything, but he can’t be like my husband. I have nothing left My family and yours are in Kwara state. My husband had no parents; he only had his older brother and two younger brothers; he was like the head of his family, and that is why it is such a great pain and loss for this family.
How was your relationship with the deceased, who was hit by a drunk driver?
He was my husband. We started our relationship in 2016 during my ND program. So he had family in Lagos, and that’s how I met him. We started our relationship then, and I’m thankful that it ended in marriage. We were together for seven years because I had dated him for four years. When he was in school, he supported me and even sponsored my project. He was very kind to me and we were very close. Everyone around us knows that, and so when he died, they didn’t tell me right away. It was after three weeks that they told me because they know that if they had told me then, he could have died too. That’s how close we were. Only God can save me now. Every day he comes to my store and we go home together. When we go home, we play with each other. We play with each other like brothers. He was a calm person who didn’t fight; he just goes on his way. He doesn’t smoke or drink.
How did you find out about your husband’s death?
While I was in the hospital, I kept asking about my husband, but my relatives told me that he was fine, that he was only injured; they did not want to tell me that he had died immediately. Every time they came to visit me, I would ask about my husband because I knew there was no way he was going to be okay and not ask me. This is how I found out about his death: he arrived at the hospital but did not survive; he had died instantly.
How has your family responded to your death?
It is difficult for all of us, but everyone has supported me. When his older brother Bashiru found out about everything, he called me and has been calling me every day since that day. He is one of the people who encouraged me to fight for justice because my husband, who is precious to all of us, cannot die like this. My late husband was even responsible for his older brother every day. His little brother stays together, and one of them has still been crying over the whole thing.
Do you know the drunk driver or owner of the bus?
No, I don’t know any of them. I can’t even point to or recognize them. I have not seen them or their families since the incident occurred.
What has the driver done to appease you and your family since the tragic incident?
They haven’t done anything. The only thing they tried to do, through one of my husband’s younger brothers, was to offer us to pay N1m; however, the money would be paid in installments of N200,000. I told them I didn’t want his money; your money doesn’t matter; the incident has occurred, and we will take action. Throughout my recovery at the hospital, they never came to see me. The hospital I was admitted to was close to the police station where the drunk driver was held, they visited him regularly and fed him without bothering to check on my well-being. He was in a coma and they never came through here. Even when it came to the N1m, they couldn’t tell me directly, but had to go through my husband’s younger brother.
How have the police responded to the matter?
On Wednesday, after the report in The PUNCH about the death of my husband, I read that the case had been transferred to the courts and I immediately went to the police station, but there is no confirmation that the case has been transferred to the courts, and the document shown to us also gave us doubts. The DPO told us that it had been moved to the courts, but honestly I’m not sure it did, mainly because they did it without our knowledge and approval; I didn’t know anything until I read about it in the newspaper.
The police did not respond well to me; they kept scolding me and my family for a long time for not having money to continue the case. A good police officer shouldn’t ask those questions when someone’s life has been lost or side with the other party because he has money. The owner of the car is said to be a friend of the DPO.
How does this make you feel about the Nigerian justice system?
The Nigerian justice system exacts a price on a person. They don’t make it easy for ordinary people to get justice.
Have you spent money on the case since this incident?
No, I haven’t. I only spent money on my husband’s funeral and my treatments.
So how have you been handling yourself?
The people around me have been very helpful; they have been donating food and supplies.
How are you recovering from all your injuries?
I still feel pain in my face. My face is still recovering. I spent more than N500,000 in the hospital.
Is the driver still in custody?
We honestly don’t know; when we asked the police, they were not direct. All they said was that the case had been charged, but they did not say if the driver was still in custody. Nobody knows if he is really in custody. All I know is that the bus the drunk driver drove that night is still at the police station; They did not hand it over to the owner, but that was because a worker from the Civil Defense of Human Rights, Sunday Omolokun, had demanded that the vehicle not be handed over to the owner; the owner had once come to pick up the vehicle, but was prevented by Mr. Omolokun.
What do you want as justice for your husband’s death?
I want the court case to go forward and the driver to go to jail. I would be happy if Nigerians could help us fight for justice. I liked the way The PUNCH reported the matter because once it came out, people saw the severity of the issue. I cannot and will not withdraw the case; I will do everything possible; my husband can’t die like this without doing anything.
Ensuring justice and sending this driver to jail will also serve to deter others who do such things, but if things like this go unpunished, it will only increase the vices in our society.