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The police claimed Olaoluwa Bolarinwa, who was starved to death in custody, was a “hardened criminal”, but they had no evidence.

Olu is a generic name among the Yoruba people. Olu can function as a prefix or suffix, but it is never a complete name for native speakers of the indigenous language. “But, when the special tactical squad (STS) attached to the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) from Itele in Lagos State came into my brother’s house, that was simply what they asked for before whisking my brother away,” says Boyo Adeshina, half-brother of the deceased ‘Olu’.

Olaoluwa Bolarinwa is the full name of the person the policemen took away from his house at the Ekotedo area in Ibadan on March 28, 2020. He was arrested alongside his nephew, Oreoluwa Abiona, and detained at Mokola Police station in Ibadan.

Oreoluwa was bailed after paying N10,000 at Mokola on March 29, 2020 but the journey, for Olaoluwa, did not end at that station. The police claimed he had been transferred to Obada police station in Ogun state.

Obada is about 120 kilometers from Mokola. Olaoluwa’s family visited the Obada station on April 4 2020, but there was no sight of him. The police redirected them to the Ogun State Criminal Intelligence and Investigations Department (SCIID) at Eleweran in Abeokuta. There was still no luck seeing the police detainee.

Throughout their search they maintained communication with the Inspecting Police Officer (IPO) of the case at Mokola, who kept having conversations with his colleagues at the different police stations visited. They figured at this time, that the police were covering up Olaoluwa’s location and, to them, that was worrisome.

Olaoluwa’s life mattered to everybody. As growing children, himself and other young relatives hustled together on the streets of the Adamasingba stadium in Mokola, coincidentally within the same area he was first detained.

To his immediate family, the 47-year-old Olaoluwa was indispensable. He was a breadwinner. He had two teenage children with Blessing, his wife, who is a hairdresser.

A call to the IPO in Ibadan in the second week of April, 2020, finally bore some news. Relatives were directed to the IGP STS unit in Itele, near Ayobo in Lagos state.

Spirit Down, Death Announced

A few days after the COVID-19 lockdown was lifted on May 4, 2020, Toyin Omosebi, an Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP), told relatives at the IGP STS unit in Itele that Olaoluwa was arrested in connection to an armed robbery in Ile-Oluji in Akure, the capital of Ondo state. “Olaoluwa is a hardened criminal,” said ASP Omosebi.

This was hard to believe because her words were conflicting from the place of arrest to the day of arrest and others. Primarily interested in knowing about the well-being of the detained, relatives present inquired about how he was faring.

“Olaoluwa died of ulcer in the hospital three days after arrest,” ASP Omosebi said. Olaoluwa’s sister broke down in tears upon this announcement. She was taken by family members to the car. This was necessary as in the same vicinity dogs were being used to intimidate people.

The relatives left with a promise to meet the ASP again.

Show Of Shame

After the family’s lawyer filed the case at the panel set up to try cases of police brutality in Lagos in October 2020, the police failed to be present two consecutive times.

The third summon was honoured on November 19, 2020. ASP Omosebi came with the phone tracker and the IPO of the case.

Nigeria Police operate with signals giving instructions on how to carry out operations but the tracker couldn’t present any signal suggesting Olaoluwa was legally arrested.

The Investigating Police Officer maintained their concocted story that Olaoluwa was arrested in connection to the Ile-Oluji armed robbery but there was no evidence connecting their arrest to the bank. No signal either from Abuja nor from the bank that the police claimed Olaoluwa joined a gang to rob.

ASP Omosebi told the panel that other gang members were charged but no court document was found.

Meanwhile, the autopsy conducted confirmed that Olaoluwa “died of starvation as a result of not taking food or water for a long period of time”.

“From all indications, IGP STS led by ASP Toyin Omosebi killed my brother.” say Olaolu’s brother, Shina.