Widow of slain baker - Jailing my husband’s killer will caution drunk drivers

12 Jan 2023

On December 9, 2022, on Iludun Street in the Amukoko neighborhood of Lagos State, a 35-year-old baker named Hanofi Taofeek and his wife, Taiwo, were returning home when they were hit by one Arinze Okafor, a drunk commercial bus driver. Unfortunately, Hanofi passed away instantly, and Taiwo's numerous wounds caused her to fall into a coma. The widow bemoans her husband's passing in this conversation with OLAMIDE FAMUWAGUN with a strong desire to see justice served.

You'd like to introduce yourself?

Taiwo Taofeek Olawale is my name. I am a 29-year-old former ND student who attended the Federal Polytechnic in Bida, Niger State. I met my spouse, Hanofi Taofeek Olawale, around that time; we got together in school and were wed for three years. I'm an investor.

Can you describe the situation and your feelings regarding it?

After I closed for the day at about 11 o'clock, my husband and I were making our way home. My spouse manages a bakery, and I am a noodle seller. He frequently visited my store so that we could both travel home together. My husband and I were on the sidewalk when we were struck by a bus from behind, and he passed away instantly. I have felt awful ever since the incident; even today, I haven't been myself. I'm in a bad mood. I had been with someone for three years; how could I have lost them? We always worked together on everything. When I had that notion yesterday, I broke down in tears.

I'm the only person left in the room, thus I have no one to interact with or play with. We were quite close and never had any reason to argue. I've been thinking about it ever since, and I haven't been able to stop.

I consider the fact that I am stuck, have nothing left, and that my spouse has taken care of everything for us on a daily basis. He would always be there to help when I needed money or anything else. Even though my neighbors have been offering me food and other necessities, they can't compare to my husband. There is nothing left for me. His family lives in Kwara State, as does mine.

How did things go between you and the dead, who was struck by a drunk driver?

My husband, he was. We began dating in 2016 when I was enrolled in my ND degree. I initially met him since I had family in Lagos at the time. Then, we began dating, and I'm glad that it resulted in marriage. I dated him for four years, and we were together for seven. He supported me when I was in school and even paid for one of my projects. We were quite close because of his kindness toward me. Everyone around us is aware of this, so when Dad passed away, no one immediately informed me.
I wasn't informed until three weeks had passed because they knew that if they had, I might have also passed away. We were that close together. God is the only one who can now save me. He visits my shop every day, and we both return home together. We had fun with one another on the way home. We interact with one another as siblings would. He was a composed individual who simply went about his business. He doesn't drink or smoke.\

How were you informed of your husband's passing?

I continued checking on my husband while I was at the hospital, but my family kept telling me he was well and had only been hurt; they didn't want to inform me he had passed away right away. I kept checking on my husband whenever they came over since I knew there was no way he would be okay and not ask of me. I found out about his passing in this way: he arrived at the hospital but passed away there and then.

How has his family handled his passing?

We all find it difficult, but they have all supported me. His older brother Bashiru called me when he learned about the situation and has been calling me every day since. He is among those who inspired me to pursue justice because my spouse, who is dear to all of us, cannot simply pass away in such a way. Even on a daily basis, my late husband was in charge of his bigger sibling. One of his younger brothers continues to grieve about it, and they continue to live together.

What has the driver done since the unfortunate event to make you and your family feel better?

They have not taken any action. The only thing they tried to do was offer to pay us N1m through one of my husband's younger siblings; however, the money would be delivered in N200,000 installments. I informed them that their money was irrelevant and that we would be taking appropriate action in light of the situation, which had already occurred. They never stopped by while I was recovering in the hospital. The hospital where I was kept was adjacent to the police station where the drunk driver was being held, and they fed him without bothering to inquire about my health.

How has the police handled the situation thus far?

After reading about my husband's death in The PUNCH on Wednesday, I hurried to the police station right away because I thought the matter had been sent to court. However, there is no proof that the case has been transferred to court, and the document that was shown to us also raised questions. The DPO said that it had been taken to court, but in all honesty, I'm not sure it has. This is largely because they did it without consulting us or getting our consent; I wasn't aware of it until I read about it in the newspaper.

The police handled my case horribly; they berated my family and I for a long time for not having the funds to press the case. When a person's life has been lost, a good police officer shouldn't be making such inquiries or siding with the opposing side simply because they are wealthier. The DPO's acquaintance is said to be the car's owner.

Have you spent any money on the case since this incident?
No, I haven’t. I only spent money on my husband’s burial and my treatments.
So, how have you been managing yourself?
People around me have been really helpful; they have been donating food items and provisions.
How are you recovering from all your injuries?
I still feel pain in my face. My face is still recovering. I spent more than N500,000 at the hospital.

The driver is still being held, right?

Since the cops were evasive when we asked, we can honestly say we don't know. All they mentioned was that charges had been filed in the case, but they made no mention of whether the driver was still being held. Nobody is certain that he is in fact in detention. The only thing I am certain of is that the bus the drunk driver was operating that night is still at the police station; however, it wasn't released to the owner because a Civil Defense of Human Rights employee named Sunday Omolokun had demanded it; the owner had previously attempted to collect the vehicle, but Mr. Omolokun had stopped him.

What sort of retribution do you seek for your husband's passing?

I want the case to move forward and the driver to be imprisoned. Nigerians' assistance in our struggle for justice would make me glad. When the story was published, people realized how terrible the situation was, thus I thought The PUNCH handled the story well. My spouse can't just pass away like that without anything being done, so I can't and won't withdraw the lawsuit. I'll do whatever it takes.

Insuring justice and locking up this driver will also serve to dissuade others from engaging in similar behavior, but if crimes like this go unpunished, they will merely spread and worsen society's vices.

Punchng, 'Jailing my husband’s killer will caution drunk drivers — Widow of slain baker' (online, 2022) <https://punchng.com/jailing-my-husbands-killer-will-caution-drunk-drivers-widow-of-slain-baker/>.

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