The ritual murder of Bamise Ayanwale

Ogunsakin Mustapha
8 Min Read
Prof Hope Eghagha

By Hope O’Rukevbe Eghagha

As the world marked International Women’s Day last week, news of a missing 22year-old Ms. Bamise Ayanwale swept through social media, with a video of another woman Caroline Oni wailing frantically in front and around a BRT bus belonging to the Lagos State government. This wailing brought a personal dimension to Bamise’s plight and further deepened the tragic image of loss, frustration, and desperation. Caroline Oni, Bamise’s madam and adopted mother wailed loudly that her ward had boarded Bus 240257 that fateful night from Chevron Bus stop in Lekki heading for Oshodi and alerted the family that she was in danger. Apparently, she was right. She could not be reached on phone shortly after. A week later, her body was found in a morgue having been deposited there by the Police. The Police reported that her body had been found on Carter Bridge a week after her disappearance. It beats the imagination for a 21st man to believe that the harvested body parts of a human being can fetch them wealth and power!  

This is a now familiar sad story in Lagos. There have been reports of commuters who went missing in Lagos, stories about passengers who were forcefully taken into the bush in the Lekki axis and saved only by divine intervention from the hands of ritual killers. The Bamise story is familiar therefore, yet it is shocking beyond words how a young lady saw her death coming, alerted her family and nothing could stop the barbaric hands of a demented ritualist from snuffing out her life. Her death is another indication of how the State continues to fail Nigerians and the impunity with which the state reacts. For some state officials, this is yet another death. Nothing special. They seem to say that in a matter of weeks the tension would wear off, and we would move on to other disasters, forgetting poor Bamise in the cold grace that the barbarity of scoundrels sent her to in the prime of her life.   

There are questions crying to be asked and answered. How many others have lost their lives in such circumstances in Lagos and around the country? What were Bamise’s thoughts as she lay dying? The dread. The struggle, the terror. Then death! If BRT is unsafe, what is the fate of passengers who commute in those ‘danfo’ buses within the metropolis? How many have culprits have been arrested and prosecuted? How many more will die sadly like Bamise? What has Lagos State officials behaved as if the image of the transport company is more important than the life of a citizen? Why was the driver allowed to address the press like a free staff of BRT when he had to be arrested by the DSS and brought to Lagos from his hideout? Why are there conflicting reports about the state of her body from the Police and her family members?

Fortunately, Bamise left enough traces for her murderers to be caught. She was smart enough to record the Bus number and communicate same to her family. If only she had let the scoundrel driver know that she had communicated his details to family members, perhaps they would have let her go. If you interview commuters in Lagos you would hear stories. There was a lady who worked in a television station in Ikeja. That early morning, she boarded a danfo, between Maryland and Ketu, she was raped inside the bus and thrown off the moving vehicle. There was yet another who was taken to a forest in the Lekki area. According to her, the place was a thriving market foe body parts. She was spared by the ritualists because she was in her monthly flow. A state that takes the security of life and property seriously should have burst the ring of ritualists in Lagos.

Bamise must get justice. Her killers must be brough to book to the satisfaction of the citizens of Lagos. I suspect that the BRT driver had been in the dirty business for long. The impunity stinks. Lagos state government must redeem itself. Too many officials lies emanate from the state government. The way LASG handled the anti-SARS demonstrations in 2020 in which lives were lost is a clear demonstration of their capacity to tell barefaced lies. The investigative panels concluded that lives were lost yet the official position was that soldiers did not fire at protesters at the Lekki toll gate. They even had the temerity to challenge footage of the shooting provided by CNN! The Dowen College incident is yet another stain in official narratives from Lagos. The credibility gap is widening by the day.

It is high time the government equipped the state roads and crannies with CCTV cameras. Every modern city takes security seriously and the surest way of monitoring activities on the streets and communities is the close circuit cameras which quietly record incidents. Lagos State ought to have its police force. The foolishness of the federal system that we operate makes common sense a rarity in governance. 

The point must be repeated that the killers of Bamise must be prosecuted. Justice must not only be done, but it must also be seen to be done, especially considering the circumstances of Bamise’s death. There is a feeling right now that someone or some forces are trying to change the narrative to create the impression that Lagos is safe for commuters. The truth is that Lagos is not safe. We move about and live by Providence, not because of the security measures which the state has put in place! Also, there ought to be a strong security action against the ring of ritualists in the country. Advocacy is needed too.

Finally, Bamise cried for help before she died. In death, the only thing the State government can do is to unravel the circumstances of her death and send a strong message to others that they will ultimately be caught by the long arm of the law! #JUSTICE FOR BAMISE#       

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