Remembering George Iwilade, “AFRIKA” 20 Years After
On the night of 9 July 1999 a number of student groups held a party at Obafemi Awolowo University. The ‘Mirror Online’ reports: “members of Kegites Club on the campus, Man O’ war members, and various other student leaders— both former and incumbent, gathered at the open ground between Angola and Mozambique Halls.” Later in the night many of the party-goers began occupying the cafeteria of Awolowo Hall whilst others returned to their halls of residence to sleep.
At between 3:00 and 3:30 am (now 10 July 1999) a large number of cultists (reported to be between 22 and 40) of the Black Axe confraternity arrived to carry out a preplanned assault on the university with the intention of carrying out the assassinations of several prominent members of the student union. Allegations that these assassinations were sponsored by the university’s vice chancellor, Wale Omole, remain to this day but it is unclear if this is the case. It is said “one of the cultists, Kazeem Bello, aka Kato, confessed that Wale Omole had a hand in their July 10 dastardly operation.”
Upon arriving at the university the Black Axe cultists “drove through the main gate and proceeded to the car park next to the Tennis Courts in the Sports Center. They disembarked there and went on foot along a bush path to Awolowo Hall, where they violently interrupted the gyration, firing guns and also wielding axes and cutlasses.”
Although the order of the events that followed vary from account to account (in terms of who was killed in what order) it is clear that following the assault 4 people were left dead, another died from gunshot wounds later, one more survived from a gunshot wound and “Twenty-five others received minor injuries, which were sustained during the stampede out of the Awolowo Hall cafeteria and later on during the attack.”
The Mirror Online reports: “The victims, which included the then Students’ Union Secretary General, George Yemi Iwilade, (fondly called Afrika); 400 level medical student, Eviano Ekelemu; a graduating student, Yemi Ajiteru; 100-Level Philosophy student, Babatunde Oke, and Ekpede Godfrey were gunned down by the “marauding beasts” in Blocks 5 and 8, Awolowo Hall.” Prof. Roger Makanjuola writes: “Tunde Oke was still alive but died on the operating table. Four others, George Iwilade, Yemi Ajiteru, Efe Ekede and Eviano Ekelemu, were brought in dead. Eviano Ekelemu bled to death from gunshot wounds to the groin and thigh. The other three died from gunshot wounds to the head.”
During the attack several accounts state the Black Axe members were heard to be “shouting, “Legacy, come out!”” referring to the suspended Students’ Union President, Lanre Adeleke. Additional targets of the attacks are described also. Prof. Roger Makanjuola’s account states the same and he also writes: “During the course of the incident, the attackers also shouted the names of “Afrika”, George Iwilade, and “Dexter”, the Chief of the Kegites, demanding that they come out.”
Of the targets of the massacre Lanre Adeleke (Legacy) managed to escape by jumping from a balcony after hearing the gunfire. “Dexter”, the Chief of the Kegites, also escaped unharmed. George Iwilade (Afrika), the Secretary-General of the Students’ Union and a Law student was not so lucky. Upon entering his room the Black Axe “shot him immediately in the head. Then they smashed his head with their axe to make sure he was dead”.
It is reported George Iwilade (Afrika) was the only successfully assassinated victim. “Afrika, who was said to have carried out the arrest (relating to the incident on Saturday, 7 March 1999), was mercilessly butchered while the other four were just unfortunate victims”
Prof. Roger Makanjuola gives the order of events as been: “They first entered Room 184, where they shot and killed Efe Ekede, a Part II Psychology student. In Room 230, they shot Charles Ita, a Part II Law student. A group of the attackers then shot Yemi Ajiteru, a Part II Religious Studies student, through the head in the corridor outside the Kegites’ headquarters. In Room 273, they found George Iwilade (Afrika), the Secretary-General of the Students’ Union and a Law student, and shot him through the head, along with another occupant, Tunde Oke, a Part 1 student of Philosophy, who was shot in the abdomen.
When the attackers got to Room 271, the room allocated to the suspended Students’ Union President, Lanre Adeleke (Legacy), they found that he had escaped. Legacy was in his room when he heard the first gun shots….. The band of thugs proceeded to Fajuyi Hall on foot, where they shot and killed one more student. That individual, Eviano Ekelemo, a medical student, was certainly not a student activist, but they shot him anyway.”. However, the order in which the victims were killed varies in various testimonies by a number of witnesses.
Prof. Roger Makanjuola’s account of the Black Axe cultist’s escape is: “The murderers left Fajuyi Hall on foot and went through the bush path behind the Hall back to their vehicles. They drove to the Students’ Union building, which they ransacked. They returned to their vehicles and drove out of the University through the main gate. The security staff, having heard gunfire, fled for their lives. Thus the exit of the marauding thugs was unchallenged.”
Culled from wikipedia.org