For Aisha Falode, my heart bleeds
Listening to ace sportscaster and member of CAF Media Committee, Aisha Falode recount how her late 19 year old son, Oluwadamilola Oloruntoba Falode – a student of Audio Production at the SAE Institute in Dubai, United Arab Emirate died penultimate Tuesday on Channels TV made my heart bleed. You could feel the agony and pulse of an aggrieved mother who single handedly raised a promising son who was cut in his prime. How do you console such a mother and widow whose only son was brutally taken from her? That was why this distraught mother went public with her grief to try and find answers to how and what led to her son’s death.
I watched this lady who always looks strong and confident on the screen break down while giving a summary of the private investigations she carried out which questioned the preliminary investigations carried out by the Dubai police on the issue.
She used the press briefing to appeal to the Federal Government to prevail on Dubai government to reopen the investigation and provide justice over the death of her son who she said was allegedly murdered by one by Faisal Aldakmary Al-Nasser, a Saudi national
She alleged that there was a plot by the Dubai Police authorities to cover up the murder of his son, adding that they said he fell from the balcony of his 17th floor (Apartment 1703) in Manchester Towers, Dubai Marina, Dubai, on Saturday February, 15, 2014.
Let’s listen to her story: ”We (She, her family lawyer Festus Keyamo, and a family member), travelled to Dubai in April and met with some of my son’s friends who were present in the apartment on that fateful day. They confirmed that there were five other people with him at the time of his death, four boys and one girl, a Nigerian, a French-Canadian national, a South African and a Saudi national. The girl is British.”
She continued: “They reported that close to the time of the incident, Toba was on the balcony of his flat with his alleged girlfriend and that Toba was sitting on the rail of his balcony with his feet off the floor and that he was swinging backward and forward.”
The crux of the matter and what fueled her suspicion with the narrative she was told was that the summary accounts given by the deceased’s friends were at variance from what the police reported. According to her, Police reported that his girlfriend was still there with him, warning him to be careful. She later went inside the flat and shortly after, they noticed that Toba was no longer sitting on the railings or on the balcony and must have fallen down from the balcony railings.
So why is she soliciting the assistance of the Federal Government? “My (Falode’s) findings revealed that Faisal Aldakmary Al-Nasser’s father is a major investor in Dubai and so Dubai authorities would do anything to protect the boy because of his father’s investments,” That is her deductions. Without probing deeper, it won’t be difficult to find out why her submission – if true – may go nowhere without the government’s support. Dubai is a police state where private prosecution is not allowed except carried out by state actors. But in a climate where finance and economics plays a crucial role, this may be an uphill task, nonetheless; I strongly believe the government should approach the Dubai authorities to re-open the case.
She concluded: “I am appealing to my government that I have done much more than I should do as a grieving mother who was left with no option but to start investigating my own son’s murder myself. I implore the Nigerian government to prevail on the authorities in Dubai to re-open the investigation into the murder of my son Toba Falode and bring to book Mr. Faisal Aldakmary Al-Nasser and Miss Olivia Melanie Richards Evans both of whom murdered him in cold blood.”
This is one death too many and there appears to be a similar thread connecting ‘Toba’s death with the death of other Nigerian students in other parts of the world. On July 13, 2013, a 20 year old Cyprus based Nigerian student, Gabriel Soriwei, then a first year student of Electrical/Electronic Engineering at the Cyprus International University, CIU, Nicosia, was allegedly knocked down by a female driver. He went into a coma and eventually died on September 7, 2013.
It was widely reported back then how five days after his demise; the university authorities flew his remains back to Nigeria just like a parcel, unaccompanied. “Cyprus International University authorities did not deem it fit to even send us a letter of condolence,” an uncle to the deceased, Fidelis Soriwei, lamented back then. He alleged that the police in Cyprus did not even deem it fit to disclose the identity of the woman that killed their son “and even the dollars in his account was withdrawn with his ATM card that was in police custody. This shows how corrupt the police in Cyprus are.” He painfully added.
In January of this year, the Soriwei family protested the ‘nonchalant’ manner the Cypriot government is handling his death. The family’s protest was strategically staged during a preparatory seminar organised by the university for prospective students at Rockview Hotel, Abuja.
It has become the norm now for all manner of “education fairs” to be held- almost on a weekly basis – because of the collapse of our educational system. Yet the government and other stakeholders believe the solution is to “go abroad”- even if it is a mushroom institution – and get a certificate at all cost.
This development even prompted the Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Diaspora Affairs, Abike Dabiri-Erewa to caution Nigerian students against applying to the Cyprus International University, Nicosia, North Cyprus, for studies, saying the institution is not safe.
Still on the same trail, the Governor of Lagos State, Babatunde Fashola told students of Lagos State University (LASU) in March that he had e-mailed the Ghanaian Parliament, requesting it to investigate the killing of a Nigerian student in that country. Fashola’s intervention followed the killing of Godwin Ayogu, a 300-level student of the University of Cape Coast whose body was dumped by the roadside.
Another Nigerian from Ekiti State, Adelabu Tunde, a student of Lagenda University, Nilai, Malaysia, was also murdered. While his murder is still under investigation, it was quite unfortunate that five Nigerian students were arrested in connection with Ayogu’s death, sadder still as they are his friends. Talk about taking our demons abroad as well.
On February 20 2014, another Nigerian student Godwin Awogbo, a 300 level student of the University of Cape Coast was brutally murdered. His body was found with some his internal organs gorged out, with his hands and legs tied together. Godwin’s death made it the fourth Nigerian student to lose his life in the space of four months in Ghana.
In addition to the killings of the students in UAE, Ghana, Cyprus and Malyasia, the House of Representative Committee on Diaspora is said to be investigating other killings in Russia, Ukraine and South Africa. This follows the death of two Nigerian students – Theresa Olaoluwa Oresanya, 300 level Electrical Engineering and Bede Olunna Ogbu, Master’s Degree Engineering – at the Donetsk National Technical University, Ukraine. They died after what the Ministry of Foreign Affairs sources described as circumstances bothering on alleged negligence on the part of the hospital authorities where they were admitted for treatment.
Some may not know how it hurts when a loved one passes on until you feel it personally; I feel Aisha’s pains and will support all efforts to ensure the real reason for her son’s death are properly investigated. Though no investigation can bring Oloruntoba back, the distraught mother can have her “peace” knowing how and why he died.
While we mourn ‘Toba and the other students, the questions that keep popping up in my mind is this: Would ‘Toba and other Nigerian students killed in foreign lands have died if we have quality institutions here in Nigeria? If there were, would our students move out in droves to mushroom institutions elsewhere? It is not late for us to start putting our house in order. Ghana did it and today the country is a popular destination for education tourism.
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