Olawale Awe, a photo-journalist with PMParrot.com and Parrot Xtra Magazine has recounted how he was almost sent to his early grave on Thursday shortly after the demise of ex-governor of Oyo State, Senator Abiola Ajimobi was announced.
According to the hard-working photoman, he was almost pursued to death by an overzealous policeman attached to the Oluyole Estate, Ibadan home of late Ajimobi just because he was the first photo-journalist to arrive at the ex-Senator’s home to shoot pictures.
Read Olawale’s account here:
I was in our office at Oni & Sons, Ring Road, Ibadan when one of our sources broke the news of the demise of the immediate past Governor of Oyo State, Senator Abiola Ajimobi.
I immediately contacted our Editor-in-Chief, Mr Olayinka Agboola who was not around in the office. He promptly asked me take a motorbike to the Oluyole Estate home of The Ajimobis to double-confirm. He said shocked and sad family and associates of the deceased may not like to entertain nose-poking journalists. I remember he instructed me to leave my Camera behind. He said I should shoot pictures with my phone if necessary.
When I got to Yemoja Street where Senator Ajimobi’s house is located, I discovered that all was quiet. Mourners were not there as expected. It was not yet 6pm. I only saw a Police Patrol and a few other vehicles that we parked. I then proceeded to discreetly shoot the picture of the house.
Immediately I did this, an unidentifiable man just emerged and was trying to block my way while still on the bike, I had to jump down from the bike and took to my heels and he started shouting “Ole Ole, thief thief” but I didn’t stop, I kept running until I found another bike that I urgently asked to ferry me away from the area.
The man also stopped a bike and asked his own to pursue mine. That was how the chase started. Twice, we almost ran under on-coming vehicles. Once, my bikeman nearly threw me on the ground because he was scared too. We rode at top speed out of Oluyole Estate to Mobil Bus Stop then on to the main Ring Road and I asked him to just speed faster. The man on the other bike was right behind us.
I started thinking fast – my boss was not in the office. Something just told me that I should go to the workshop of Opulence Tailors behind Lister Building on Ring Road. When we got to Lister Bus Stop still on Ring Road, my bikeman refused to enter the side street that leads to Opulence. I paid him and did not stop to collect my change before I sprinted off again towards Opulence Tailors shop.
The strange man and his bikeman entered the side street and it did not take them long before they caught up with me and he was still shouting ‘Ole, ole, thief, thief’
To cut a long story short, he blocked me with the bike and I stopped. He said he was a policeman and that he was arresting me. I told him I am a Journalist too and I showed him my identification card. He insisted that he was arresting me and that I must follow him back to the Oluyole home of the Ajimobis.
He bundled me onto his bike and together with his bike man – we were three on the bike – we rode quietly back to Yemoja Street.
On getting to the home of the Ajimobis, and elderly woman came out of the house and she asked him to let me go. He refused. Fortunately, some of my senior colleagues – Mr Tommy Adegbite of the Nigerian Tribune, Mr Najeem Raheem of The Guardian and one other had arrived too. They promptly came to my rescue. They identified me and asked him to let me go. The policeman and his other colleagues still insisted on taking me to their station. My senior colleagues and others around prevailed on them eventually and they allowed me to leave the scene.
I thank my senior colleagues and I thank God that the ‘game of death’ did not boomerang against me and that the bikeman did not run me under any speeding vehicle especially as we were being pursued on the ever busy Ring Road.
My Editor-in-Chief has since been to the Divisional Police Officer’s Office located within Oluyole Estate where he met Mr Femi Okunowo who apologized on behalf of his men. He also urged me not to run when stopped by policemen. He said I should always identify myself.