Shocking reason for burying remains of Gbenga Owolabi in US

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Clever reason for burying remains of Gbenga Owolabi in US

Yinka ADETUNJI

Many have wondered why the remains of Mr. Gbenga Owolabi, the hotelier slain by his abductors in Ogbomoso in August, were flown to the US for burial.

However, his elder brother, Mr. Ayo Owolabi, the one who negotiated the ransom amount with the kidnappers, and whose conversation with the marauders went viral, had provided insight into the rationale for the burial outside the shore of Nigeria.

Gbenga Owolabi kidnapped on July 16, along with one of his staffers at his hotel, Tana Suites, in Abaa, Ogbomoso, Rachael Opadele, a final year student of Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, LAUTECH, with both being killed on August 2 along with the commercial motorcyclist that conveyed the ransom bearer, Idowu Ajagbe, though the N5m ransom was paid, was buried last weekend after a funeral service at Life Trinity Church, in Maryland USA.

In an interview by BBC News Yoruba monitored by ogbomosoinsightonline.com, Ayo Owolabi said the burial in the US was inevitable in the face of rampant kidnappings in Nigeria with the Nigerian authorities apparently helpless, and so appear to be complicit.

According to him the original plan of the family was to bury his remains in Nigeria but that the US government raised the issue of security of those who would fly in to attend the burial which of course would include the wife and children of the deceased and their friends, who never were familiar with the country.

The distraught elder Owolabi emphasized therefore that it was to avert another round of kidnappings that the US government, whose citizen Gbenga was, subtly insisted his remains be flown “home” for burial.

Furthermore, he said it was appalling to the US that two and a half months after the incident, no inroad had been made into unraveling the matter or any arrest made pointing out this connoted a pointer to Nigeria’s government’s lackadaisical attitude to human life.

He explained the American government only showed to Nigeria the high premium it places on human life.

Speaking further Ayo Owolabi disclosed the incident had heightened the call for Yoruba nation saying he was able to dispel insinuation that southerners rather than bandits from the north were the ones killing themselves.

He stressed therefore that his brother’s episode is a proof to the US that Yoruba people are endangered in Nigeria and that their call for a separate nation is genuine.

“The Nigerian government has made it a norm to lie to these foreign nations that it is we southerners killing ourselves but I was able to establish it that it is not. In fact, I wanted to prevent them taking the corpse to the US, but they told me that if the burial was held in Nigeria and some of the visitors that would fly in were kidnapped again, what would happen?

“His children had lived all their lives in the US and his wife too, whose friends would want to attend the funeral if it were to be held in Nigeria, and if they should abduct any of these, what happens so they said matter-of-fact that I should allow them to fly the corpse to the US.

“I now demanded what happens to me if they took the corpse back to the US and they said they would give me asylum but I told them pointblank that the asylum had no meaning to me that they should rather assist the Yoruba nation to be excised from bondage. I spoke with Professor (Banji) Akintoye and Chief Sunday Igboho and they said we should go ahead.

“The point is we are sure of Yoruba nation this year as a result of that incident but they also requested evidence. When they wanted to carry out the postmortem they sent three pathologists to Ogbomoso and this was repeated at Delaware Military Hospital in US. That was why he was buried immediately, you know, they were opening his body frequently, and it was already decomposing. We initially planned next week for the burial and that is why I couldn’t attend.

“Someone just told me that I had been requested to come and collect my visa at the embassy to be able to go there. So, we can’t say what they did was wrong, the reason being that the wife and the children are also citizens of America, so, he was returned to his home, you know where one had lived for about thirty years and one has children with the first child being about 28 years old and the last being 19, they are all citizens and their coming to Nigeria in the past was not more than once or twice, the wife has even been staying there for close to thirty five years.

“So, I don’t think the US committed any infraction, he’s (Gbenga) their citizen. And from the burial pictures, it’s the white people that served as pallbearers; that is just to prove to Nigeria that life that you do not value means so much to us.

“As I am speaking to you the federal government has no clue as to the perpetrators of the crime. They demanded SSS (State Security Service) to give them report the SSS had not been able to make any report; and no single arrest has been made.

“I was even surprised that the Diaspora people bypassed me, they had initially called that they were coming but they went ahead to attend the burial after they learnt about the change in plan even though I sent the invitation card to them initially, but they didn’t get back to me again.

“American government sent FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigations) operatives to come and retrieve the corpse, to prove they did not take the matter lightly, four FBI agents followed three pathologists to Ogbomoso and five Nigerian mobile policemen using two loaded vehicles,” the elder Owolabi submitted.

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