A 34-year-old officer from the Department of State Services, Oluseye Olubode, was stabbed to death by a soldier in Ado-Ekiti, Ekiti State, on June 4, 2021. His brother, Olutope, shares with GODFREY GEORGE the pain of the family and the cry for justice 17 months later

WWhat is your work?

My name is Olutope Olubode. I treat furniture. I’m 37 years old. I live in Ado-Ekiti, Ekiti State.

What is your relationship to the man who was allegedly killed by a soldier in Ado-Ekiti?

He was my little brother. He was 34 years old when he died. His name is Oluseye Olubode. He was an officer of the Department of State Services in Ekiti State until his death.

As far as you know, what really happened between your brother and the soldier that led to your brother’s death?

It’s honestly frustrating every time I have to recount it because it happened so fast. It happened on June 4, 2021. He called me that day and told me to try to see each other the next day. That call from hers came at around 7:00 p.m., because we were planning to attend a relative’s funeral. So, he surprised me when a relative called me around 11 pm that day and told me that he was dead. I did not understand what I heard. How was that possible? I came to know that there was a guest house where I used to go and pray in Ado-Ekiti. He joined a motorcyclist who usually picked him up and dropped him off at his house every day. We found out that the motorcyclist had an encounter with some newly recruited soldiers and he had to call my brother, who ran downstairs to see what was happening.

How did your brother get close to the soldiers?

The people who witnessed the incident said that my brother approached the soldiers, introduced himself as an officer as well, and begged them to spare the motorcyclist for his sake. In the process of the peace talk, an argument ensued and there was a small fight. I don’t know what happened, but the people who witnessed it said that the soldier stabbed Oluseye in the neck and he fell down and was bleeding. The soldier, who was accompanied by another man, whom they also identified as a soldier, fled on a motorcycle. They said my brother died on the way to the hospital and he kept yelling, ‘I’m tired. I’m tired’ as they drove to the hospital. It was very sad.

Who called to inform you of his death?

I was called by my other brother who informed me that Oluseye had died. He was called by one of the people who helped get my brother to the hospital.

Have his remains been buried?

Yes, it has been buried. The DSS did an autopsy and they told us to go bury our brother and we did. Since then, we have been struggling with pain and grief. Not a day goes by that I don’t think of him. He was a really loyal man to me. He was my best friend.

Other than the autopsy, what else did DSS do? Was there an investigation into his murder?

I dont know. I can’t say if what they did was the best they could have done or the best for us. What happened happened. The writing has been done. No amount of money given to the family can now reverse the case. The person we are talking about is my immediate younger brother. He was a man that she really loved very much. When I say ‘love’, I mean true love.

What about his wife and children?

I had three children. In fact, the wife was pregnant with the third child when he died. The wife gave birth two weeks after his death, the exact day we had planned to bury him. We had to hold the funeral two days after the wife gave birth to the baby so that she could attend the funeral.

How is your family taking all this?

It’s a terrible thing. If you look at my mom, you’ll see that something really happened to her. Before the incident, she was very happy and calm, but now she is always in a bad mood. She was very close to Seye. They used to be together before he got married. If you look at her, she has changed drastically; even my dad is trying to pick up the broken pieces of his life. For me, each event brings back a memory of him. If I’m with his friends or colleagues, I feel very sad. There was a time when he used to feel guilty about the whole situation. I might have been able to save him.

As for his immediate family, I don’t even know how they manage. We are doing what little we can. My mother has been there for them. As close as we were when he was alive, I can’t even go to his house to see his family as often as expected. Every time I set foot in his house and see his picture hanging on the wall, my heart breaks. I just send them money when I can. His death has changed my family forever. Things will never be the same. My family is very close and they taught us to love.

Did DSS offer any financial assistance to your immediate family?

What they did was give the family N200,000 for funeral rites of some kind. But if they did anything else, I can’t say. What they did when he died, to me, was not encouraging and I don’t want to talk about it. A brother of mine used to complain about the treatment back then, but I told him to relax because whether or not DSS does anything, he’s not going to bring Seye back. Seeing Seye alive is my concern! I have lost my peace. Our family is traumatized.

What kind of person was your brother?

My brother was a peace-loving young man. He was a very serene person. He was charming, jovial and carefree. That was Seye for you. He played a lot and wasn’t looking for trouble.

I learned that the day they killed him after that fight with the soldiers, he left the place. Returning to take the phone from him, the officer, who was still angry from the earlier fight, grabbed him, punched him, and stabbed him in the neck, while the other watched, making sure Seye couldn’t fight back. They killed him in cold blood. It is painful.

Didn’t the soldiers know he was a DSS officer?

They did it. Everyone in the area knew that he was in the security services, although they may not have known which one he was. Those soldiers, who did that to him, knew him and there must have been something between them. They could have been aiming at him. That day was just the trigger they needed to kill him. I don’t know what they might have been dragging. It still amazes me how soldiers can do something like that to a fellow officer. He beats me. That my brother fights is also shocking because in my family we don’t fight. His job also prohibited him from doing so. So for him to have fought with those officers hits me. Something must have been wrong somewhere.

Did your family formally apply to the Nigerian Army?

Petition? I’m not sure we did it as a family. But I think one of my brothers wrote to them officially and they never responded. That brother of mine was the one who wrote to the DSS making some demands and complaining about many things that he said were our rights under the law. But until now, there has been no justice in this regard. I’m not even sure the letter reached the people it was supposed to reach. To be honest, at this point, I feel like there’s nothing more we can say. Everything else has failed.

Do you think the soldier was arrested?

There were rumors that he was arrested and was being disciplined by the Army. But, we didn’t hear anything about it. It became so frustrating to keep fighting for something that seemed to have no end. I had to tell my people to leave everything in God’s hands.

How does this make you feel about the justice system?

Justice in Nigeria is almost non-existent. It is until injustice happens to you that you will understand that. There is still a lot of work to do.