Monday, March 6, 2017 12:22 pm
Dr Onukaba Adinoyi Ojo, 57, a seasoned journalist and intellectual, is dead. According to Senator Babafemi Ojudu, a Special Adviser in the Presidency, “a mutual friend, Martins Keyi, just informed me of his death.” He was said to have been killed in an encounter with armed robbers on Ilesha – Akure road yesterday while returning from the birthday activities of former President Olusegun Obasanjo.
Adinoyi-Ojo, 57, was hit by an oncoming vehicle while running to nearby bush to avoid armed robbery attack at a spot in Igbara-Oke, Ondo State. The former journalist died on the spot and his corpse was later deposited at a morgue in Akure.
Critics say that the Akure -Abuja road, apart from its bad nature, has become so infested with bandits that Nigerians lose their lives there. The late Festus Iyayi, a lecturer at University of Benin, died on the same road.
Ojudu went further: “A friend and former colleague, Onukaba was a brilliant and incorruptible journalist. He stood out among his colleagues then as aviation correspondent for the The Guardian where he met and struck friendship with Obasanjo. An author and essayist, he worked in The Villa during the Obasanjo presidency. Onukaba tried twice to be governor of Kogi State without success. A man of noble ideas and ideals, Onukaba was a good man. He brimmed with great vision for his people which he could not bring to reality. He will be buried today in his home town, Ihima, Kogi State.
Rest In Peace dear friend and brother.”
Tony Iyare posted the deceased’s profile on his FB wall: Adinoyi Ojo Onukaba was born on March 9, 1960 in Oboroke-Ihima, Okehi LGA of Kogi State to the family of Mallam Shuaibu Onukaba and Hajia Aisha Onukaba. He obtained his first degree in 1982 in Theatre Arts from University of Ibadan. He served his national service at Radio Nigeria, Ikoyi –Lagos in 1982/83. He joined The Guardian newspaper as one of its pioneer reporters in 1983. He rose to the position of News Editor before travelling out in 1989 for graduate studies. He bagged Master of Arts degree in Journalism from New York University, New York, USA. He worked as a Research Officer at the African Leadership Forum, New York. Onukaba also served as the Information officer, Division of Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, United Nations Operation in Somalia (UNOSOM) between 1994 and 1995. He obtained his Doctor of Philosophy degree in 1996 from New York University.
Dr. Onukaba became Adjunct Professor of Mass Communication at the School of New Resources. College of New Rochelle, New York in 1997. Between 1997 and 1998, he worked as Press Officer, Department of Public Information, United Nations (New York). In June 1998, he was sent to Iraq as an Information Officer, United Nations Office of the Humanitarian Coordinator. Upon his return to Nigeria in 1999 to participate in the present democratic dispensation, his sterling qualities and ability to succeed caught the attention of former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, who appointed him as Special Assistant on Media Relations. He had known and related closely with both Atiku and Olusegun Obasanjo since 1984.
Onukaba got to the peak of his journalistic career in August 1999 when he was appointed Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of the then ailing Daily Times of Nigeria PLC. He worked tirelessly to reposition the Daily Times and made it attractive to investors. The company was privatized in 2004. Onukaba returned to the presidency as Senior Special Assistant to the former Vice president Atiku Abubakar on Public Communications between July 2003 and April 2005. Beyond Onukaba’s humble exterior lies impenetrable armour of principle and dedication to duty. In December 2005, the Okun Youth Solidarity Forum (OYSF) led by Hon. Adeniyi Sunday Bello, honoured him with the “Pillar of Youth Award” in recognitioin of his services to the State. Earlier in 2001, the then Governor Abubakar Audu of Kogi State honoured him as one of the distinguished citizens of the state. Onukaba has received numerous other awards for his decency, integrity, creativity and kindness.
Adinoyi Ojo Onukaba, a seasoned journalist, playwright and publisher of high repute, has published so many books and journals including: “In the Eye of Time”- a biography of former President Olusegun Obasanjo. “Atiku Abubakar”- a biography of former Vice President Atiku Abubakar. “Born to Run” – a biography of Late Dele Giwa, co-authored by him and Dele Olojede. Some of his plays include, Her Majesty’s Visit, A Resting Place, Tower of Burden, The Virginity Flee, The Lone Ranger, Bargain Hunting, and Soommalliyya. His play, “The Killing Swamp” was one of the three finalists for the 2010 NLNG Literature Awards.
Ojudu went further that while Nigerians are mourning Dr Onukaba Adinoyi Ojo, let us read this and see a death trap that Ilesha – Akure Road has turned into. Early this morning an elder and statesman called my attention to this story.
My dear Baba,
I hope you continue to be in great health, Sir. My parents recently had a harrowing experience that has shaken me to my core, and I’d like to share this ordeal with you.
(The following story is based on the accounts of the four people who lived through it and I went to great extents to double-check it for accuracy.)
About one week ago, both my father and mother were en route from Ikare-Akoko to the funeral of my father’s aunty in Ibadan. The driver (same one that drives me around when I am home) and my father’s younger brother were also in the Prado SUV. Time was 4:30pm Nigerian time.
As they got to an area between Ipetu and Erinmo in Osun state, they first encountered a police checkpoint, passed it, and within 1.5 km of that checkpoint, they got ambushed by a man wearing mobile police uniform. As soon as my parents’ SUV approached his location, without speaking he started shooting in the direction of the driver who quickly started reversing the car. After reverse-driving for about 50 meters, two more men wearing regular police uniforms appeared from nowhere and started shooting at the SUV also. The driver therefore put the SUV in forward drive and faced the assailant in front of them. By sheer luck and a miraculous turn of events, they were able to escape but not without significant damage to the SUV and minor shrapnel injuries to the backs of both my father and uncle.
After escaping the ambush, the SUV’s engine had been hit, smoke was pouring out of the bonnet, and brake had failed; so when they drove another 1.5 km and entered the township of Erinmo, they saw another police checkpoint and a few people who had gathered. In another moment of quick thinking, the driver applied the hand brake, which made the SUV spin out of control for a few revolutions before it thankfully finally came to a stop. In total, at least 10 bullets hit the SUV and no one knows exactly how many other gunshots missed it.
Good samaritans then converged and extracted them from the SUV while others used fire extinguishers to quell the bellowing smoke emanating from the engine. They were then later taken to OAUTH where shrapnel was eventually removed from my uncle’s back. My father’s injury thankfully did not require any significant intervention. Many by-standers told my parents that other people have been robbed and/or kidnapped in the same approximate area where they were attacked; and that there had been no consequence for the attackers. These people just operated with impunity.
My parents were very obviously very shocked at the turn of events but were especially shocked at the nonchalant attitude of the police. The police didn’t do much to go after the perpetrators in the immediate aftermath. When they eventually moved, they reportedly turned on their sirens to “scare off” the assailants, and came back quickly afterwards to announce that the driver of the car behind my parents was killed. Just recently, my parents also found out that the owner of that same car behind them was also killed. Reportedly, the perpetrators tried to kidnap him but he died from his gunshot wounds so they abandoned him in the bushes. His body wasn’t found until 3 days later by a vigilante group from the neighboring town.
To add insult upon injury, the police at the station said that they would not write a police report until my parents paid 100,000 naira (eventually negotiated down to 50,000 naira).
I decided to share this story with you, Sir, so that you can be aware of some hot spots on roads that you may frequent since this one is within a state that you previously governed. Additionally, given the esteemed position you hold in the country as a key adviser to the ruling party and by virtue of the relationship we have developed, I feel comfortable pouring my heart out to you in an effort to bring your attention to the terrors that many ordinary citizens like my parents experience on a frequent basis.
They, and by extension we, all feel helpless and defenseless in our own country. Just within the last 5 years alone, my immediate family have experienced the following:
1. My father’s immediate younger sister’s husband was kidnapped for 10 days and the entire family had to pool money together for his ransom.
2. Armed men (with guns) came to rob my father’s younger brother (same one who was in the car) in his house in Akure.
In every single one of the cases above, the police was not helpful. They just mostly use these unfortunate incidents to take advantage of poor citizens by charging large sums to complete the most basic of police work. And who knows if those assailants in the most recent incident are actually part of the police, and not just impostors.
Despite all of these incidents, we continue to have faith and endless hope in the Nigerian project. We continue to say “where there is life, there is hope.” But how much more can one family take? And what hope remains when armed men can just take innocent lives at will with no fear of repercussions. And if all these has happened to one family, I can only imagine what many other families are experiencing on a daily basis. I wonder what the family of the deceased in the car behind my parents feel at this time?