We live in a country where human life is cheap, and where the powerful infinitely oppress the poor. This is the story of the common man in Nigeria and in Africa at large: his life is at risk from the moment he entered this sphere; the big man dominates this environment and gets away with murder. It was true during the slave trade era, and it is true today. Ours is a country and continent of anything goes!
This was the story of a young man, one Babatunde Oke. Tunde was a family man; he worked at EcoBank, one of the many slavish financial houses that bestrode our land. Bank jobs in a country of 40% unemployment rate, where less than 1% of the population have access to government or rather oil money, is a rarity. It is also a status position; they pay relatively better than other sectors- even though you can hardly take home $2,000 each month after 5 years of executive officer position. Nevertheless, in this impoverished clime – it is a job to die for; and Tunde died for it.
Tunde was a father of two- his oldest was two, and an infant just added to his beautiful family. His wife worked at EcoBank as well; so life seemed perfectly okay, until he began to have issues at his work place. Tunde was accused of a missing 1.2million from Eco bank, Ladipo branch where he worked sometime late last year. He was asked to refund the money.
According to Tunde’s side of the story, someone posted the money with his system. However Tunde made effort to repay the money after he was threatened; his account was put on hold and that of his wife who works with the bank was also put on hold (they could no longer make withdrawals from their account). Tunde was able to repay about half of the money before the events that led to his arrest.
The events that led up to his death began on Sunday 16th of February, when Tunde had a fire accident in his residence- his generator exploded, leaving burns in his hands and legs. Tunde went with the burns to the office on Monday to show his branch manager, and explain that he won’t be able to stay at work for the day but seek treatment.
On Tuesday 18th of February, Tunde was on his way to clinic and someone at EcoBank called his wife to inform her that they were coming to arrest her at her branch since her husband had absconded. She quickly placed a call to her husband to inform him, and her husband reported immediately to work - abandoning his treatment due to the threat.
Tunde was immediately arrested same day, and taken to the divisional headquarters at Ikoyi where he was locked up for 3 days. All efforts to get his bail went futile as the police insisted that based on the instruction of the bank, they must get the outstanding balance of the missing 1.2 million naira (about $3,500 USD of the $7,000 USD missing).
The police extortion game then began; his lawyer was asked to bring one million naira, and he told them bail was free and he can’t raise such. In the course of argument the police escalated the extortion to 2.4 million naira, and the lawyer reminded them he only had an outstanding of six hundred thousand naira, and that if they had such money the case was not going to be where it was. Indeed, the usual police racket of obtaining money from civilians under duress was in full swing.
While all these went on, Tunde was being tortured as usual by the police in his cell and on Thursday morning his mother in-law and brother visited the station, but was again urged by the police to quickly go and get money. They went to use the ATM to get whatever they could scrape together, and on their way back, they saw an ambulance parked at the station. Fearing the worst, they peeped into the Ambulance.
The sight that beheld them was that of Tunde's cloths on him drenched in blood, his mouth foaming and it was also discovered later that a coke bottle cover was placed in his pocket. The police started alleging poison that he took a poisonous coke in the course of investigation. Few hours later, Tunde died. Tunde was in church last Sunday, happy man it seem- he is now dead!
Today, Tunde’s widow – a mere twenty-eight years old is left fending for an infant and two years old. EcoBank continues to coin millions everyday on the back of its shabbily treated workers, and they hold enough capital to perverse the wheel of justice. But Tunde’s blood cries for justice. The police clearly was acting on EcoBank’s instruction, as the case never escalated to their level until many months after the money was declared missing.
There is a fundamental lack of humanity in both the acts of the bank (that asked that their staff be tortured) and the police, who then undertook the process of torture that has now become a mainstay of police interrogations in our country even when we are signatory to various international charters and conventions prohibiting the same. When will the Nigeria Police stop torture? Why is police extortion for bail the norm in our feckless police force? Whose head will roll for the murder of this young man?
There are hundreds of Tunde’s in Nigeria Police cells as we speak. Locked up or framed, at the request of one big man or another. When will our big men stop killing us? They go into government to look our commonwealth, then perverse the wheel of justice to kill our young as well?
It is time to demand a stop to the nonsense. EcoBank and the Nigeria Police Force must not get away with murder. Call or Write and demand justice on EcoBank’s Facebook Page - https://www.facebook.com/Ecobank.Panafricanbank.
Tunde must not die in vain.