THE family of Pelumi Onifade has said the Lagos State government has not released his corpse for burial two years after he was killed.
An intern at a private online broadcaster, Gboah TV, Onifade was, at the time of his death, a second-year history student at the Tai Solarin University of Education (TASUED) in Ogun State.
A police stray bullet killed the 20-year-old during the #EndSARS protests in 2020 at Abattoir in the Oko Oba area of Agege, Lagos, where he had gone to interview some traders whose shops were looted by hoodlums.
His lifeless body, according to eyewitnesses, was taken away by the policemen.
Aside from the difficulty in getting justice, his bereaved mother, Bose Onifade, narrated the frustrations she has gone through just to get his corpse retrieved from the mortuary.
Onifade spoke in a report that highlighted the travails of families of journalists killed since Nigeria returned to democratic rule in 1999.
“It is only God who can judge those who killed him. In Nigeria, if you don’t know people, you’re nothing, but I have God. He went to interview some people in the Abattoir area that day. We were looking for him only to find his corpse at the Ikorodu mortuary. We were later told his body had been moved from the mortuary to another one.
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“I am appealing to Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu (of Lagos) to intervene so that Pelumi’s corpse will be released. They did a DNA test for me in 2021 at a government hospital in Ikeja to identify the corpse and promised to call me when the result is ready, but nobody called me since then,” Onifade said.
She added: “We are poor people. Schools were on holiday then due to the COVID-19 lockdown, and he was working with the TV station to raise some funds to buy books,
“Pelumi was my ‘husband’, friend and brother. Every day I remember him, it is a big sorrow. Before the incident happened, we were discussing my birthday, and he promised that we would celebrate it, not knowing that two days to my birthday, I would not see him again.
“Everything is in God’s hands, but I know if Pelumi was alive, my life would be better. I miss him so much. I relocated from my former residence because I always took ill. My dad was sick because of Pelumi’s death. He didn’t have a male child, so he loved him so much. He died in October 2022.”
Onifade said she attended a panel of enquiry set up by the state government to investigate the #EndSARS killings, including Pelumi’s, but since the panel concluded its enquiry, she had not heard anything about the case.
Asked why the corpse has not been released, the Lagos State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Gbenga Omotosho said: “The mother can go to the Yaba mortuary with proof of evidence. She should go for the DNA result.”
“As regards the #EndSARS panel, what the white paper (on the panel investigation) said we should do, we have done almost everything. We have no power to prosecute soldiers or policemen. We have sent those cases to the federal government,” Omotosho added.