…and Ziggy died …

AND ZIGGY DIED…
‘When you bear the corpse of a stranger, it feels no different from bearing a log of dry wood’
Igbo saying
I was watching Sportstonite on Channels Television. They were showing the highlights of the Sunshine/ Kabilye match. Sunshine scored their first goal and the camera found the fans in the stands. I saw Ziggy celebrating the goal. I picked up my phone to call him and tell him. His number was not connecting. I logged into Facebook to send a message and saw Michael’s post ‘R.I.P Ziggy’. I immediately typed a comment ‘who is Ziggy’. Between then and midnight, I would confirm that Olawale Lasisi, who we nicknamed Zigima was dead… handcuffs holding his lifeless hands together.
Wale! My football captain in Tai Solarin College of Education and who became the football captain in Tai Solarin University of Education in his first semester there. Who dreamed and breathed football. Who had a healthy dream of a professional career but wanted education first. Who enthusiastically worked through his NCE project under my nose and whose project I typed myself. Who was so excited about moving to Tai Solarin University of Education for a degree in History and Diplomatic Studies. Whose left-over property I helped take out of Omu. Who we all knew with just one girl who he fully planned to make a life partner.
Wale! Who scored TASUED’s only goal in the NUGA Games in University of Benin in February. Who grew up in the rough of Ajegunle, knew trouble and kept well out of its reach. Who was loved and respected by peers, teachers and juniors. Whose smile radiated even when things were very difficult. Who was the rallying point among his mates and competently controlled our sports teams. Olawale Lasisi who got the name Zigima because he dribbled someone to the ground with a skill called ‘Zigima’. Why would anyone shoot Wale?
While we were mauling over the event that fateful Tuesday, we were to wake up to find many students of TASUED marching on Igbeba Police Headquarters. The policemen who shot him must have come from that unit. So the questions started to fly and answers started to fall in. An article in The Nation of that Wednesday captured most of it.
Some male students who were said to be cult members had apprehended some female students who were said to have offended them. To punish their affront, the boys took them to a bush and forced them to strip. Some accounts say they were raped and some said they did not go that far. But pictures and videos of the humiliating episode were said to have been posted on Facebook. This is believable as many claimed to have seen the files and also noted that some of it was distributed by Bluetooth from phone to phone. The police became involved somehow. They were on a mission to apprehend the boys who were believed to have harassed the girls when a shoot-out occurred. Wale was shot in error, or at least, so the students of the school concluded, and which was the reason they went to the streets. Many of the stories about what actually made the boys harass the girls still fly around. Many accusing fingers have continued to be pointed at the political class for turning the universities to war zones. These are for the appropriate authorities to handle.
The accounts of persons who saw this happen filled in the gaps. Wale was said to be coming from football training when a set of boys greeted him. He stopped to greet them. He was still standing with them when the police came. They say the police came with the girls who were harassed and who pointed to the boys with whom Ziggy was standing and the police closed in. We also hear that the boys fired first on the police and that Ziggy was shot when he was trying to get away from the scene. Some (including The Nation) said he died on the spot and yet others say he bled to death. None recalls at what point handcuffs were placed on him but people who saw the corpse later said it was most definitely wearing handcuffs.
The event took the town by surprise. It has been some while since there was a student protest on the streets. The blame agents went to town. There is always work for them after each big event. They said he should not have been standing or talking with them. They said there was no fully establishing that he was not a part of them after all ‘show me your friends and I will tell you who you are.’ They said he should not have run away, but should have stayed to prove his innocence. They have not stopped saying things since then.
But while I refuse to hold fort for Ziggy, I do know that there are a few things that public commentators need to be told or reminded of, then they can continue their talking. Those of us who live, school or work in a tertiary institution environment know that there are unwritten rules that help you stay safe. We know that when a number of students standing under a tree for instance, call your attention, you at least stop to hear them out. We know that even though you are a lecturer, you must not say, ‘what do you mean, calling me like that. Who do you think you are?’ No, you stop and answer. We even know that on the day they declare you persona-non-grata in the campus, you find an excuse not to come. We know that greeting bad boys does not make you one. How many friends does a football captain have? By how many of them would you judge his character? Ziggy ran, but how many would stand and argue with bullets. His standing there would even have appeared to be an affront. He grew up in a neighbourhood where if you see police or trouble, you get out of the way. We know that all these analyses do not hold much water. What is true is that he was just unfortunate to be there at that time.
As would be expected, it started almost immediately. The claims and counter claims, and they have not stopped since then. Some say the boys fired on the police, others said the police was wrong to shoot. Some say the offence of rape does not carry a death penalty and shooting to kill from close range was extreme and others say they were only responding to gunfire by shooting the unarmed runner from behind! Some claim he belonged to no cult, others said the police must have their own reasons. Trouble is no one will ask them, or might ever ask them.
So Ziggy died by gunshot. It is so painful but I do not intend to judge anyone or blame anyone. Many because they believe him to be the last person to deserve such a cruel death at school. If I had the muscle, I would not go for revenge or ask for an inquiry but I will do many things to see that this kind of death never happens again. All the same, I know that I believe that this could have been averted. I would have thought that the case was not the type you send a combat team but an intelligence team. I would have thought that the safety of innocent people and in fact the girls who identified their assailants should have been a priority. I should have thought that in line with modern policing, they could have found more convenient times and locations to apprehend the boys they wanted to question without incident. I would have thought that if it was an error, there would not be any need to offend sensibilities by slamming handcuffs and insisting he was a crook. I would have thought more effort should have been made to prevent the protest that followed, prevent the shootings that took place, prevent the injuries sustained, prevent the arrest and prosecution of some people who are said to be students of the university. I would have thought that all this may not have happened.
So I write this, that the world would know that we lost a man of the future. If anyone fails to mourn the passing of their heroes, that would be up to them. I tell this story for Ziggy and I beg his spirit to find rest in spite of the handcuffs. Ziggy, my heart breaks for you, for your parents and your family. I will not forget you and neither would the rest of us who knew you. You have left a mark even though you only had started.
Two nights ago I had a dream. I was with Sola in a room when Ziggy entered. I held his hand and said, “Ziggy I know this is a dream and I do not want to wake up and find it so.” He said it was not an easy experience and told me to rest easy. He showed me his neck that was grazed by a bullet that missed him. Apparently people thought he was hit. I saw the mark. I asked him if he knew the uproar that would follow if I announced on my Facebook wall that he was alive and well. He said I should not because that would only cause him more trouble. He would stay low until everything blew over. Then I woke up.
Ziggy is still dead and we are still mourning. If there is anyone that is working hard to make him a crook in death, he needs to stop trying. It will never work.
Ziggy please rest. The world will hear your story. Just rest.

2 Comments

  1. dada ayodele said,

    I don’t really know this guy but sir this country sucks. An issue like rape on campus should be looked into by the school security and not some foolish idiots in black uniform. I feel discouraged to go write my exam today. If some morons could just shoot me and makes it look like it was my fault.

  2. Dare Fasina(D'fash) said,

    It’s so unfortunate that dis guy met his untimely death in dis manner. Many questions beg 4 answers here: did the rape take place within d school vicinity? Was d matter reported 2 d school? What did d school’s security do? Was it d school’s security dat invited d police? If d ‘raped girls’ could identify those guys,they should be able 2 know their particulars since they were all students of that school? Was there no relationship btw dos girls & their rapists? What role has d school played since d boy was d school’s football captain? I know from experience that a case of this nature should first be reported 2 d school who will investigate & then handover 2 d police 4 prosecution. Also,police can’t just come & arrest students without d school’s knowledge thru d school’s security. My heart bleeds for dis young chap who Nigeria Police wasted.

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