…union members allege cover up
A 53-year-old tanker driver, Babalola Oladimeji, working with the Nigerian Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) has been allegedly murdered in a hotel at Apapa, Lagos State. It was learnt that the deceased and two other colleagues, worked at the operational section of one of the major oil companies in Nigeria (names withheld)as drivers.
But NUPENG members, while addressing journalists in Lagos said that the late driver and his friends lodged in the hotel in Ikeja area of the state on December 15, 2021, which was booked by their company. However, uneasiness was said to have set in at about 5am on December 20, 2021, after attempts by his colleagues to reach him on both of his mobile telephone and the hotel’s telephone line failed as both lines rang out without response from his end.
His colleagues, who said that he was last seen the previous day hale and hearty, combed the hotel in search for him without luck. One of the room attendants was said to have opened the missing man’s room, but he was no inside. His colleagues were said to have left for the day’s assignment without Oladimeji. On arrival, while conducting another round of search for their missing colleague, a member of the hotel staff informed them about the discovery of Oladimeji’s lifeless body in the hotel’s swimming pool.
In a swift reaction, the deceased colleagues refused to buy into the explanation of the hotel management that Oladimeji was drowned. Rather, they alleged foul play. Its Lagos State Zonal Chairman, Tayo Aboyeji, said that there were several questions begging for answers as to the real cause of Oladimeji’s death. He noted that a deep cut was found on the deceased head and wondered how he sustained it. Also, the union contended that another puzzle was the discovery that the deceased’s stomach was not bloated and expected of one who must have gulped so much water before he drowned. Aboyeji in a statement made available to our correspondent explained: “When one of the hotel staff called some of Oladimeji’s colleagues to inform them that they had found him inside the swimming pool.
One of our colleagues, Samuel Elijah said he saw the hotel staff pulling the body out of the swimming pool and an attempt to administer cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR), on him did not yield any result as he was discovered life less with a deep laceration on his head and a bleeding ear. The staff then transferred the body to the swimming pool dressing room. “Police were later invited by management of the hotel. When the Police requested management of the hotel to play the CCTV camera for footages of what actually happened, they said that the CCTV was not working. But that same CCTV showed footage of Samuel Elijah and the hotel porter, who went to the deceased room earlier, while they were frantically searching for him.
“The body was deposited at the mortuary by the Police and the case was transferred to the State Criminal Investigation Department, Panti Yaba for further investigation. If the CCTV cameras that supposed to capture footage from the rear, the entrance and the surrounding, particularly the swimming pool side, which was the crime scene were found they would revealed when the deceased came to the hotel and when the body was probably dumped into the swimming pool, “Surprisingly, it was observed that the swimming pool water where the body was found, which was supposed to be bloody, was clean even though the lifeless body had a deep laceration on its head.
This further arouses suspicion that the deceased was probably murdered and dumped inside the swimming pool. It was also discovered that his stomach was not bloated as a result of gulping water which is normally the case when somebody drowns.
“It is very strange that a highprofile suspected murder case of this nature is being handled with unfathomable levity to the extent that no arrest has been made as we write. Also, it was strange to learn from a reliable report at our disposal that the deceased’s hotel room, which was taped out of bound pending when investigation will be carried out and concluded, has been opened and possibly tempered with, thereby leaving the possibility that the integrity of the investigation can be compromised. This can be construed to mean an attempt by the culprits to cover their tracks or conceal very vital information.
“It is also strange to any discerning mind that at this stage in time, the company that deployed and lodged the deceased in the hotel has shown high level of negligence, insensitivity and carefree attitude in this matter by still retaining the remaining member of staff in the same hotel where their colleague died. This goes to show the level of importance they attach to the lives of hapless Nigerian workers. “We hereby call on the oil company to leave up to their responsibility by deploying all the necessary machineries whether human or capital resources to ensure justice is done to this case as the union will not relent in its effort to mount required pressure on the management to do the needful.
“NUPENG, however alleged a foul play and high level cover up in the death of one its members, we are appealing to present Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Abiodun Alabi to help find the culprits and bring them to justice.” When contacted, the Lagos State Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Adekunle Ajisebutu, chief superintendent of police promised to get back our correspondent but yet to reply as the time of filling the report.