Putting names to the victims of war

This year marks the one hundredth years since the First WW broke out. UK did massive poppy display representing each soldiers killed in the war by planting 888,246 clay poppies themed Blood Swept Lands of Seas of Red – The display was beautiful and moving.

I am grateful too as I have benefited in no small measures from the peace around me.

Tower of London poppy Display
Tower of London poppy Display

Then it occurred to me that my gratitude for brave men and women goes beyond British soldiers and the first WW. Mine included a very recent and less publicised one but war nonetheless because people died so others like me could live.

Old NEPA building on Ondo road, Modakeke is a popular landmark in town, not only because it once housed NEPA (National Electric Power authority) but also that in the 80s, Nigeria Guru Maharaj Ji once lived there – One God. Many ways of reaching Him. My people’s madness about One Way and My Way is fascinating. Little wonder #Bringbackourgirls occurred.

I digressed a little there.

Old NEPA’s building has lots of memories that has shaped my view of the world in more than one way. I lived about 300 metres away from it for seven years.

By December 1998, I was beginning to think this will be the end of it all, the killings have been going on for about a year and no end in sight. Nigeria newspapers reported the crisis as if it was foxes and Chickens.

Adegoke retired to his house Old NEPA building, in the heart of town. Behind his house was a swamp, really it was a stream, flows during raining season but stood still most time of the year for the path is clogged of household waste.

One day, Modakeke youths went to Adegoke to ask if he could lend out his garden hose, people have seen him using this on occasions on the compound weeds. Adegoke refused to lend out his machine demanded the youths to leave his compound at once. The guys were not only disappointed, they were furious for his refusal to be of any help.

Adegoke has drunk, eaten on the soil. Even raised his family and Modakeke good enough for him to settle after years in the Nigeria Army. We were not asking him to fight given he is from Ikirun (or somewhere close in Osun State) but only fair that he help in his capacity to support our efforts to defend ourselves and livelihood from the Ifes.

The guys wanted to tell the old guy he was a traitor but must be cautioned as Adegoke has plenty of powerful guns so they left his compound.

Retired Captain Onigbinde assured the aggrieved youths he’ll have words with his old-time friend. Onigbinde walked up the stairs as he had done many times before, only to be carried out in a body bag, all the boys hanging about the building were taken down within minutes that followed.

Aremu Baba Elero Ata at Oke Amola, who has been fighting intensely for the last few weeks and tired was on his way home when he heard the news, made a detour to Old NEPA so as to stop Adegoke – him too was sent to a journey of no return within minutes of arrival.

Within 24 hours, Adegoke killed more people in Modakeke than the total number of people killed by the Ifes at the borders.

Was Adegoke an enemy within? Or was his action triggered by years in the Nigeria Army where killings has become a ‘child’s play’ and not enough psychological help to follow-up with soldiers to be sure they were not danger to their communities after retiring?

Must see what happens to Adegoke, next day I sat among tens of youths at Olanrewaju in a two-storey beside Baba Liadi’s building. There you can see Adegoke’s compound clearly, there was a stray bullet near this building yesterday but if others didn’t get shot, I will be just fine too.

This is history, must see.

Adegoke had resources, had a working landline phone from the then Nitel – his lawyer from Moro came by and whizzed him away.

“Remember Femo, the powerful undefeated Ife man who once rode Oba Sijuade’s horse to events?” A friend asked. I responded in affirmative.

See, my point here – No one benefitted absolutely from Modakeke and Ife crisis, but the bruised egos are still adamant to accept defeat to move to 21st century where it is not acceptable to demand for lease after centuries of ownership on farmlands.

None of the kings and chiefs children were victims. Actually, during this time four of Oba Sijuade’s children were in the USA studying and yet ordered children of his people to grab lands of the Modakekes do or die style.