A 25-year-old man who jumped into the Lagos lagoon on Sallah day did so because he was caught stealing about N10,000 from a woman’s bag, The Nation learnt yesterday.
The late Adesina Ajayi, a private guard attached to the Managing Director of Biotech Limited, was allegedly seen taking a dive into the lagoon from Adekunle end of the Third Mainland Bridge on Tuesday afternoon.
It was gathered that a motorist, who earlier saw him put down the two bags he was carrying and thought he probably wanted to rest, raised the alarm after catching a glimpse of his suicide move from the centre mirror of his vehicle.
The motorist was said to have called the Lagos State Emergency hotlines to report the incident.
This prompted the deployment of rescuers to scene, where Ajayi’s bag containing his mobile phone and identity card of Sheriff Deputies, a private security company, were found.
The company was reportedly contacted and it was discovered that Ajayi had stopped working there about two months ago and was attached to Biotech by his benefactor, Adekunle Philips, who he sent a text message that he would kill himself.
Philips said he was returning from Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, when he received Ajayi’s message and quickly called his wife and brothers to look for him.
Philips said: “He sent me a message that he was sorry for what he did and that in a short while he would give himself judgment by committing suicide.
“What happened was that I received a call that Sallah day from the company I attached him to that he was caught stealing some money from the boss’ wife’s handbag. The company is situated at Alausa. So, as soon as they called me, I called my supervisor and asked him to go to the premises.
“Ajayi stayed with that family on the island. He had been with them for about two months. I knew him while I was at Sheriff Deputies and was asked to go to Ede in Osun State and form a guard for a private university there.
“He was one of the over 150 men who came for the job and he stood out because he was result-oriented. I took note of him and then brought him to Lagos after that assignment. I have always recommended him to people because I knew that he was good at the job.
“Then, I left Sheriffs Deputies after the death of the chairman and decided to start my own security outfit. I left him there. I started my own outfit in March. Then, about three months ago, he called and said he was looking for a job, that if I had any opening, I should let him know. He said he was in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, and was not doing anything then.
“That was how I brought him back to Lagos, attached him and two others to the MD of Biotech. One of them was rejected because he was taking alcohol. Then, it was two of them that we left. He started off very impressively and even caught two previous guards who were stealing from the man.
“I cannot say what got into him and what happened. But I know that we looked for him when he sent that message. He sent it to me, his father, other relatives and to the man he was attached to.
“When he was caught, the family told him to go to the house and pack his things. Before he got home, another guard had packed his load and said they saw some native things in his bag. But when we saw the message, the MD said he had forgiven him and that he should resume work on Thursday (yesterday).
“My wife and others, who went out to look for him, said he told them that it was too late and that my wife should forgive him. So, when they could not find him, they went back home. I went to some places I thought I could see him but did not.
“Meanwhile, when I got that message from Ajayi, I called his father and forwarded it to him. He told me he also received a similar message from Ajayi and that they had been calling but he was not picking.”
Philips said he received a call from Sheriffs Deputies around 10.30 p.m that LASEMA operatives had called them after they found a bag with their identity card bearing Ajayi’s name.
“Since they know he’s my boy, they called and said that they were told someone reported he jumped into the lagoon. So, they had to call me. I kept calling Ajayi’s private number till around 11 p.m and they told me it was LASEMA and that I should come to their office in the morning. I was there around 6 a.m and I was the one who provided his father’s number for LASEMA.
“His father and uncle came the next day from Ibadan and Abeokuta. We all had a meeting with the General Manager of LASEMA and the police (Rapid Response Squad, RRS).
“Ajayi’s bags were examined in our presence by the RRS and LASEMA officials. They saw messages his relatives and everyone sent begging him not to kill himself.
“The LASEMA boss said they were yet to find his body and that it might take few days before floating. He tried to manage the situation and told us why we should not publicise the incident, especially because of the circumstances that led to it.
“His family said they were satisfied and Ajayi’s items were handed over to them by LASEMA and RRS. His father said he was not ready for any investigation or case and would be returning to Ibadan.
“Surprising, the family started calling and threatening me, less than 30 minutes after leaving LASEMA office. His father said they will kill me. His uncles, brothers have been calling me. Some people have even called me that they were policemen from Ibadan; another said he was from the Inspector-General of Police (IGP).
“Then, reporters from Ibadan have called me too. Since that day, my phone has not stopped ringing with threats coming from them. ‘They will kill me, they will jail me.’ What is my offence? That I employed their son?”
The Nation correspondent witnessed some of the calls while meeting with Philips yesterday.
A caller, who Philips said was Ajayi’s father, told him a seer told them their late son did not jump into the lagoon but was being held for ritual purposes.
The caller, identified as Alfa Deen by Truecaller, who spoke in Yoruba, said the bag was taken to the bridge for a cover-up, asking Philips if he had any children.
“I came here now because I do not know what to do. How can they be this unfair to me? If they had issues, why did they not ask the emergency workers and police? I have explained to them that I saw Ajayi’s message, just like them and that I was also called the way they were called.
“This morning (Thursday) someone called me again that they were coming to arrest me at my house, that I must provide their son. I have told his father that if they have any issue, they should channel same to the government because it was the government that got his item and handed it over to them.
“We were all shown the messages on his phone, including the ones sent by his fiancée, where she was telling him to have faith and hold on. I do not know what the issues with him were. I paid him N50,000 per month.
“I am crying out to Nigerians now because I would not want to be dragged for something I know nothing about. I do not want my image to be tarnished as well. I am a struggling man and I have been in security business for over 20 years. On the side, I use my old car for taxi. I do not engage in questionable activities.”