The dream of becoming a Nigeria Army officer has failed to come through for Damilare Taiwo, a final year student of the University of Lagos (UNILAG). He reportedly
Before his passing, Taiwo was wrapping up his final year project in UNILAG's Economics department. The 20-year-old is described in a report by Punch News as one with good prospects for the future.
According to Punch, the Nigerian army authority has disclosed that he slumped and died during training. But his family believes he was beaten to death.
The sad story of his demise began when he left Lagos for Kaduna on Saturday, August 25, 2018. His father Mr. Taiwo Oyedele recalls in pain in a chat with the online news publisher.
“He left Lagos for Kaduna that Saturday, a day after he concluded his project in school, and reported at the training camp on Monday, August 27.
“He finished his secondary school education in 2014 and gained admission to UNILAG the same year to study Economics. He was just 20 years old. He just completed his project.
“When he wanted to leave for Kaduna that Saturday, I advised him to be a good ambassador of the family and prayed for him. He was an easy-going child. He had always wanted to be a soldier.
“In one of his pictures on Facebook, he edited the image of the late Gen. Murtala Muhammed in the N20 note and replaced it with his picture. That is to tell you the passion he had for the Force and how far he wanted to go.
“He had been showing interest in the army since 2011 when he was 13. It is so unfortunate that he could not accomplish his mission.
“The army sent some officers to us last Thursday to tell us about his death. They told us that he collapsed during a training session on Tuesday (August 28).”
A mother's pain
The mother of the deceased who was not named in a Punch News report could not subdue her sufferings from the harsh sting of losing a child.
She believes her son was slaughtered.
“Won ti kan mi leyin okan(They have broken my canine). I learnt my son was beaten to death whereas the army told us he fell and died.
“I don’t want my son to die in vain. The military said he would be buried in Kaduna, but I don’t want my son to be buried there. They should bring his corpse to Lagos," Punch gathered on a visit to the family home of the deceased.
Hope taken away
Moses, the brother of the deceased had his sights set on a monthly pay of N10,000 when Taiwo gets a job. He confirmed that he made the promise to him.
Unfortunately, his hope has been shattered. Moses points at conflicting accounts of his death by military officers.
“There were a lot of promises. He personally promised to be giving me N10,000 out of his salary every month.
“The military officers that came told us that he slumped and died. But some of his colleagues called and told us that he was beaten to death during ‘welcome home’ tradition at the camp.
"They said he was complaining that he was tired, but they did not leave him. The witnesses were afraid to speak out so that they would not run into trouble. We are going to take it up; we want to know the cause of his death.”
Useful to his family and society
Damilare Taiwo lived a life that portrayed him as useful to his family and the society he lived in.
His father Oyedele remembers him not just for the fact that he is his first son -- he was quite an active servant at his church.
“There is no way I can forget him. He was my first child. He was very devoted in churches, both at the community and in his school. It is only God that can comfort me. He was a role model to his two siblings.
“He was a cool-headed person. If he was not reading, he was surfing the Internet, studying the Bible or helping his mother in her shop,” Mr. Taiwo Oyedele tells Punch News.
His friends from the University of Lagos have also joined in in the fond memories through many social media posts.
Taiwo may not have lived as long as his loved ones wish for, but his activities while earth is one that portrays him to be useful to his family and society.