I was reminded about the importance of this day by the article below written by an ex-classmate of mine in Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), 17 years ago. I barely escaped this massacre with my life, thanks to my late cousin Muideen Akinola of blessed memory. Reading this article further saddened me that sadly and heartbreakingly, not that much has changed in this country.
May the souls of the departed continue to rest in perfect peace.
On this day July 10, 2016, it would be exactly 17 years since the young student of Law and former Secretary-General of Great Ife Students’ Union, George Akinyemi Iwilade (aka Afrika) was assassinated in cold blood by cult members on the campus of Obafemi Awolowo University.
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 eight people and leaving 11 students injured. It was perpetrated by an organised 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.
A list of victims that died are:
George Akinyemi Iwilade, AFRIKA (Secretary-General of the students’ union and founder of the AFRIKA FORWARD MOVEMENT, AFORM; shot in the head on his bed, then smashed on the head by an axe wielded by one of the Black Axe members)
•Tunde Oke (a 21-year old student activist and member of Democratic Socialist Movement, DSM, the Nigerian section of CWI).
•Efe Godspower Ekpede
Several people were injured directly and indirectly from the ensuing confusion and stampede.
At around 4 p.m., Lanre Adeleke, the president of the students’ union, called an assembly of the students’ union members in Oduduwa Hall; he then demanded for Vice-Chancellor Wale Omole’s resignation due to Omole’s past impeding of the union’s anti-cult activities. A #10,000 reward was placed by the union for Omole’s capture, resulting in a student takeover of the entire campus and the kidnapping and ransoming of Omole’s wife, who was on her way to church on the following Sunday, July 11th.
Students also erected roadblocks at the university entrances, impounded vehicles and launched vigilante searches to flush out the killers. After raiding a local police station to regain a suspect that they had turned over to the police after fears of police leniency surfaced, a suspect named Frank Idahosa Efosa admitted that he had overheard Omole being referred to as the “patron” of the Black Axes and also overheard that Omole had offered a large bounty for the deaths of the student union leaders.
By July 14th, the Nigerian Universities Commission, headed by education minister Tunde Adeniran, recalled Omole from his position of Vice-Chancellor, and a multi-million naira investigation to uproot the confraternities was launched through the Nigerian university system; the Olusegun Obasanjo government, on the 15th, ordered police to patrol the university campuses.
The day before the funeral, Adeniran addressed a student union rally on the matter of the reinstatement of expelled students. Also, over #45,000 was raised by the student union, #30,000 of which went to the organization of the funeral.
Four of the “July 10th martyrs” were buried on July 20th, 1999, at university cemetery. Around 20,000 people attended the funeral, including students from various institutions, workers, lecturers, parents, market women, and journalists from throughout Nigeria. A local woman donated the five coffins for the dead.
Article by: Otunba I. O. Sunmola