It was 3.05 a.m. and Lagos was waiting for the sunrise on that day, October 12, 2004, exactly 11 years ago. Along one of itsexpressways rode a great believer and longtime dweller of Lagos , Jerry Eyituoyo Agbeyegbe, Nigeria’s most decorated pilot, aviation columnist and activist. Four decades and counting, he lived, adored and loved Lagos. Their love and respect for each other was mutual; even in worse moments, Groovy Jay, as he was profoundly identified, pulled along, coming up with a unique signature epithet for Lagos; eko ijo reoooo.(Lagos, this is dance, on his weekend radio programme at Radio Lagos). He kept faith with Lagos until he met a morbid fate that early foggy morning of October 12, 2004.
The police said he died in an auto crash. But he was sprayed to death by an overzealous brood of hoodlums, after hours, along the expressway. The circumstances and sad police stories remain, to this day, what they are; mere tales by moonlight. Agbeyegbe’s sad assassination has turned into a cold case file, an unsolved mystery.
A cheerful and charming life silenced in a most gruesome and heartless manner. That morning, he fought on for his life, and his right to live another day, in the back of a rusted police patrol van; pleading with the cops for a chance at least, a last chat with his wife, Mary, on his cellular phone. The police ignored his pleas. Instead, police rode a helpless body, searching for the nearest hospital to dump him. By the time the police found a hospital, Jerry had chocked in his own blood. Drenched in his blood, the man died.
|Jerry and wife|
More than a decade after his assassination, his widow, in this heart-breaking two part expose, shares with readers, the last moments of her loving husband. She also provided and permitted these grotesque and horrible pictures of Late Jerry Agbeyegbe inside the slabs of autopsy room after he was shot 29 times. Readers’ discretion is advised.
“Jebose, on the morning of October 12, 2004, at about 4.30 a.m., I received a phone call from my husband’s younger brother, Late Albert, asking for Jerry’s whereabouts. Half asleep, I reached to touch Jerry on the side of our bed, but he was not there. Earlier that night, I left him while he was on his computer and went to bed. He was filling his USA visa form online, for a course he was to attend a few days later. So, I rose from the bed and I went to his computer table hoping he would be there, but he was not. Surprised, I told his brother on the phone that he was not in the house. I did not suspect anything until about 5 a.m., when I got a call from someone who identified himself as a policeman from the Alapere Police Station, situated along the Third Mainland Bridge. The caller asked if I was Aunty Mary and I answered in the affirmative. He said,
“You have to come to the Alapere Police Station because we have Jerry with us.” When I asked him what was wrong, he said I should just come. I began to panic, I was getting apprehensive and I told him I was not his auntie but his wife. My husband called me Aunty Mary, so he had saved my number with that name. The police officer refused to provide additional explanation and information, so I dressed up, got ready to go to the station. I woke up one of the children, Kay, and asked him to accompany me to the station. As our only car was with Jerry, I had to make use of the car hire service at the 1004 Flats, Victoria, Island, Lagos where we lived then.
Few meters to the station, I saw Jerry’s car, badly damaged. At the police station, I met my brother-in-law Albert, who had earlier called me and one of Jerry’s cousins, Uncle Links Odiete. In utter shock, we went to the site where I saw only a trickle of blood on one side of the car. We rushed to the police station nearby, this was about 6 a.m., and the police were observing their morning parade after which they would be deployed in their various duty posts for the day. I broke down and fell on the ground. A man who was later identified as DPO Udo shouted and said, “who is this woman? Get this woman out of here”… I identified myself as the wife of Jerry Agbeyegbe. He then stated, “That accident that you have seen, is it unto death?”
“Jebose, I didn’t know what he meant but I got the message, somehow. At this stage, I picked myself up from the floor; I didn’t want to believe anything that bad had happened to my husband. From that moment, we went into a waiting game session jut to find out where and what happened to my husband. Nobody said anything to us. Another family member, Jerry’s younger sister, Alero, joined us at this stage. After a long wait and silence, the police said Jerry had been taken to a hospital, which they did not disclose. They refused to let us call the officers who had taken Jerry to the hospital, insisting they had no mobile phones, which we found very hard to believe. After what seemed like an eternal wait, police called us to their operation room and demanded for our statements (Kay and I being his wife and son). The female officer and a sergeant, identified as Akhimien, whom, I later gathered was the officer that took my husband’s body away, were the ones writing our statements for us. The female officer asked if I would be able to identify my husband. I said yes. I was naive.
I didn’t know they had already killed my innocent husband. I vehemently refused to sign any dictated statement. I protested and told them I would write my statement. The police surrendered my husband’s personal belongings to me; neck chain, wrist watch, camera, one phone. I was shocked that the police were handing over his personal things to me, so I asked them why and they said they had to take them from the car so miscreants would not steal them. Since my concern was Jerry’s whereabouts, I did not dwell on that. The police said we should tow the car from the roadside to the station premises for safety and security. They had no towing vehicle. This was unbelievable. It was hectic as there was fuel scarcity, but Kay eventually found a towing vehicle that towed my husband’s damaged vehicle to the police station. After we towed the vehicle to the police station, the police demanded N3,000 for some paper work processing in order to enable us to take the car. I got enraged and very angry. I demanded to see the person who drove the car.
“’ ‘You said he is in the hospital, let us go and see him.’ I shouted at the police officers. My brother-in-law, Albert, stood in front of the officers, insisting we had to know what happened to our brother, husband and father, Jerry. The police became wild, accusing Albert of obstructing officers’ way. It was quite a scene but they eventually told us Jerry was at the Isolo General Hospital. The police was not ready to accompany us, so we left for the hospital. Uncle Links, Albert, Alero, Kay and I. After a series of inquiries, we were directed to a matron, who told us point blank that he was dead. In utter shock and disbelief, we went to the mortuary, and there my beautiful angel, the love of my life laid, dead. I wanted to touch him but the mortuary attendant would not let me do so. I took a good look at him, his face was contorted in anger and pain. There was a big gash on his lap and cotton wool on one part of his chest. That moment, standing beside and looking at the body of my late husband inside the mortuary, I went into denial.
I started chanting that he was not supposed to die. I went on and on, but at some point, I had to face reality. That mortuary was an oven instead of a mortuary. We tried to figure out a way to transfer him out to another mortuary, possibly the Lagos University Teaching Hospital mortuary, but because of the fuel strike, we didn’t know if LUTH was open for business. So, if we took the body and LUTH was on strike, we would be stuck with his body.
“I called Kenneth, a staff in my husband’s office and informed him of the sad situation. Jerry was scheduled to travel to the USA for a course. A shocked Ken said he was just about to call him to collect his Estacode. After the phone chat with Kenneth, I began to call several family and friends to inform them my husband was dead.
I called his cousins, Lardner and Bafor and one of the aviation correspondents at the airport that had been a tremendous blessing to me. She was like a daughter to Jerry. She informed her colleagues, his cousins informed the family and they took charge from there. I called my friend Elizabeth and my niece Mowunmi, who rushed over to the Alapere Police Station. In the aftermath of what we had seen at the hospital, we returned to the Alapere Police Station, where we met family members and aviation correspondents, who had converged on the police station to collate information and to show solidarity for Jerry. He was their brother and friend. It was at this stage that the bullet hole was discovered on the windscreen of the car and it turned out that Jerry was shot.
Source: Punch Newspaper