Family members of slain airwoman, Solape Oladipupo, share their grief with Punch’s correspondence
If walls could talk, the ones in the family home of murdered airwoman, Solape Oladipupo, in the Badagry Township area of Lagos State, would be screaming the deceased’s name.
Not because the 21-year-old was once in the choir at her home church, but because her imprints were markedly on the walls of the small room she had shared with her sisters. The room had a picture of her smiling in two portraits, with bright lemon green and purple paint adorning the walls.
The young airwoman, fondly called Shomzy Shomzy by friends and admirers, had painted the room in some of her favourite colours sometimes in 2016 before she joined the Nigerian Air Force, and she bought a table fan for her sister.
“Solape was a beautiful and kind person. She was determined to make the best of her life and for others. She was always looking out for her family and friends,” one of her elder sisters, Kehinde, told SUNDAY PUNCH on Thursday night.
Sadly, last Sunday morning, thousand of miles away from her family home in Badagry; the young lady had no one to watch her back when her alleged boyfriend, a fellow non-commissioned NAF officer, identified as Kalu BA, shot her dead.
Kalu was alleged to have pulled the trigger at her in a fit of devilish rage and jealousy, after he accused Oladipupo of double dating at the Air Force Base in Makurdi, Benue State.
“Most idiots would insult me for this, but if they were in my shoes they would do the same,” wrote the killer boyfriend in a purported suicide note he had written. He described himself as a ‘crazy lover who died for heartbreak.’
By a spiteful stroke of fate, Kalu failed in taking his own life, but succeeded in killing Oladipupo and, in the process, a thousand dreams.
In the small room that served as a sitting room – with no chairs – and a bedroom, Kehinde spoke of her younger sister’s big dreams.
Kehinde said, “In 2014, before Solape decided to join the Air Force, she had applied to join the Nigerian Navy and Army, but it wasn’t successful. During the screening process for the Navy at Apapa, she couldn’t get an accommodation, so she slept under a trailer for about a week. She came back home with several mosquito bites and fell sick afterwards. That was how determined she was.
“My mother fainted twice when she heard that Solape had been killed. The man that killed her hadn’t paid her pride price; he didn’t know anyone in her family. She had gone through a lot to get to where she was. She was not supposed to die like that; this was her time to enjoy,” her distraught sister said.
She also spoke of Oladipupo’s determination to join the Air Force following an unexpected incident.
Kehinde narrated, “We were together when we saw a lady on the way who was dressed in a way that exposed her body and Solape made a comment about it, which she heard. Later, the lady came to our house with about five or six guys and they beat us up, until a soldier came to our rescue. From that day, she told me she wanted to join the military, because she hated cheating and injustice.
“I was very proud of her when I first saw her with the Air Force uniform when she came home last June/July. I rushed to hug her tight, despite that I was heavily pregnant. She said she would train my elder sister’s children and our last two siblings and ensure they become lawyers and doctors. She had a big heart. I’m very sad that my younger sister also did not see my new-born baby,” Kehinde said, bursting into tears.
Just then, a friend of the Oladipupos walked into the house, and collapsed on the bed, holding another of the deceased’s elder sister, Jolade, tightly. “They have killed our Solape,” she screamed.
Everyone in the room, including Kehinde’s three children, then broke into tears.
“I’m based in Abeokuta. Solape was a very caring person. For two years, she accommodated me in this room. She was a friend I would never forget in life. In 2012, she helped me get a job in the filling station where she worked then. For two months, before I got the job, she fed me all through. She didn’t follow men about. She was welcoming to everyone. She hated cheating,” said her friend, who gave her name as Opeyemi Obatola.
Oladipupo was described by friends and neighbours as a goal-getter. “She was a hustler. I felt bad when I heard how she was killed. She worked in several places just because she wanted to make ends meet and help her family,” said a neighbour, Femi Ogunbiyi.
“She was gentle and hard working,” another, who gave his name as Salem, said.
At the bar in Badagry, where Oladipupo last worked as a waitress before she joined the Air Force, colleagues and friends spoke highly of her.
“She was outgoing and straightforward. She taught some of us here how to handle the business,” said Nifemi, one of the waiters at the bar.
One of the bar managers, who didn’t identify himself, said, “She was always with a smile and was very intelligent.” A few others declined to comment about her or the incident.
A university lecturer, Mr. Dawodu Abayomi, told SUNDAY PUNCH that just before she travelled to join the Air Force, Oladipupo was hosted to a send-forth by her employers and colleagues at the bar.
“Solape was not a wayward girl; even my pastor friend was there to celebrate her. She was friendly and a likeable personality,” he said.
At the time she left to join the Air Force, Oladipupo was already a first-year student at the Adeniran Ogunsanya College of Education, Ijanikin, Lagos, where she was studying business education.
“Before her admission into AOCOED, she had been processing the Air Force application. She believed that one of them would work for her,” Jolape said.
Jolade also rubbished the killer boyfriend’s allegations that Oladipupo was double-dating. “My sister had both male and female friends alike because she was an accommodating person. But she wasn’t one to flirt around. If she was a flirt, she wouldn’t have been hustling to look for jobs,” she said.
“My daughter never had that time; she wasn’t the kind of lady that messed herself up with men. Solape was intelligent, gentle, easy-going and disciplined. She was courageous and ambitious. She was my two eyes and, with her death, they have punctured my eyes, and I’m blind,” Oladipupo’s heartbroken father, 60-year-old Tolani Oladipupo, told our correspondent.
When he heard of his daughter’s tragic death, the father said he almost committed suicide. “My children, friends and family members, who were there at the time, held me back,” he said, almost crying.
A friend to the late Oladipupo, Mr. Paul Marafa, said the deceased airwoman was jovial, hardworking and easy-going.
“There was a time I joked with the manager of the bar to increase her pay as she had always discharged her duties diligently compared to others and he laughed,” said Marafa, adding that he last saw and spoke with her in November 2016 when he visited her with a friend at the Air Force Base, Kaduna.
Marafa said he encouraged her to apply for the job online because she “was young, tall, smart and intelligent.”
“I felt that working as a waitress might affect her future. So, when she got the job, I congratulated her and wished her the best. She then told me that life wasn’t easy for her as an airperson; that it was made worse by the fact that some of her course mates and superior colleagues were pressurising her for an affair or for sex. I advised her to be very careful. She said she would and thanked me also for encouraging her to apply for the job. Her death is a colossal loss,” he said.
Oladipupo’s best friend, Basirat Fayemi, said she inspired her in many ways. “She was nice, open-minded and wanted the best for herself and her friends. She loved hip-hop music; TuFace and Teckno were her favourite Nigerian artistes. She also liked football, meeting people, and loved dancing. She gave me hope. With that, I was happy and looked forward to joining too, not knowing that I won’t see her again,” Fayemi said.
The Oladipupos are still mourning the beautiful soul who provided melodious music in their lives; her dreams abruptly ended by a killer boyfriend currently in custody of authorities of the Nigerian Air Force.
In his reaction, the NAF spokesman, Group Captain Famuyiwa, said, “We know there are several offences against the state, including this one, which is murder. A board is investigating and will decide the punishment for the suspect.”
Joining the Air Force was her dream — Best friend
How long did you know Solape?
I am Basirat Fayemi, a friend to Solape. We had been friends for about five years. We met at a recruitment centre when we both wanted join the Navy.
How difficult was it for you to get enlisted into the Navy?
It was stressful. We didn’t get the job eventually. We were there for about a week. But we did our best.
What kind of person was she?
She was nice, open-minded and wanted the best for herself and her friends. She was a funny person. She inspired me in many ways and said she wanted me to wear the Air Force uniform with her. She gave me hope. With that, I was happy and looked forward to joining too, not knowing that I won’t see her again.
When was your last conversation with her?
We spoke on the phone last Friday, two days before she was killed. She was helping my cousin to process his admission into the Air Force. I asked for the printout because my cousin had already taken the examination and gone for the screening. She was trying to help us out. She wanted me to purchase the form also but I didn’t. That was when I asked my cousin to get the forms.
Why was she called ‘Shomzy’?
It was just a nickname, a shortened form of her name, Sola.
Did she tell you about the lover who allegedly killed her?
Yes, she did, but I didn’t know much about him.
What did she tell you about him?
I guess they had a good time at the beginning, but I don’t know what later transpired between them. The last time she talked about the guy she felt good about it then. I think it was in February. She was not someone that would double-date.
How do you feel when you heard that same guy killed her?
I felt bad and disappointed. I was sad to hear the news.
When did you hear about her death?
I heard on Sunday morning around 10am. I felt so bad. It was painful the way she died because I never expected such. Solape was a caring friend. The last time we were together was when I went to see her at her place of work before she joined the Air Force. We spent a great time together. Sometimes, we usually went out together to the seaside for relaxation.
She was said to be hard working…
Yes she was. She worked in several places, including filling stations and a bar.
Did she tell you about her goals and dreams?
Yes she did. Joining the Nigerian Air Force was one of them. It was her dream career. I remember when she was enlisted into the Air Force, she would say, “Basirat, I want to rise fast and also be well connected so that I can help other people from Badagry to join the Air Force.” She was selfless and looked out for others. Also, I think she joined the force because she was surrounded by some friends that were already in there who inspired her.
I want my daughter’s killer to pay with his life — Dad
What is your name?
I am Tolani Oladipupo; Solape’s father. I will be 61 years old in April.
What do you do?
I am a retired bank worker. I worked with Allied Bank PLC and managed many branches until the bank was dissolved and liquidated by the military regime of the late Sanni Abacha in 1995. Since then, I have been an agriculturist.
How are you coping with your daughter’s death?
All of us in the family are really sad. My wife is in a really terrible state; she fainted when I told her on Sunday and she could not breathe for 30 minutes. She almost died. Later, she gained consciousness. She has lost over 40 per cent of her weight since then. It is most difficult for her. She hardly eats and takes more of liquid, tea or water once a day. When I heard about my daughter’s death, I wanted to kill myself by running into a moving trailer. It was my children and friends around that held me back from committing suicide. They let me realise that hope was not lost. I have many children but I do not want to lose any of them. How can someone put a gun to my daughter’s neck and terminate her life? I have recovered partially and I am ready to face life. Sholape would have been 21/22. She was my sixth child.
What can you tell us about her?
Solape was intelligent, gentle, easy-going and disciplined. She liked staying in a clean environment. She usually kept the home, toilets and bathroom clean whenever she was around. She was determined to become an air force officer, so her going there was not by mistake. She was energetic and good. She was courageous and ambitious, right from her childhood, from the age one. Even when she started walking, I remember how she always stood up and tried to walk whenever she fell down. That was how determined she was throughout her life. We are going to miss her a lot.
Did she tell you about the guy she was dating?
Yes she did. We spoke when she visited home in December last year. She spoke about the boy that killed her; she said she was going out with him before but decided to leave him because he is violent. I also encouraged her to cut off any relationship that would not give her peace. I don’t know how long they had been dating, but I just know that she had separated herself from him, and I supported her decision. I had never spoken with the boy before. After we spoke about it in December, we never talked about it again. I think she had cut off the relationship with him by then.
When last did you speak with your daughter?
I spoke with her on Friday and Saturday and the incident happened on Sunday. We talked about her progress. She has twin sisters and younger ones and she said she would take good care of them. She was hard working. She was not so financially buoyant to help the family in a big way, but whatever she had, she shared with her siblings.
How did you feel when you heard that it was the same guy who killed her?
I felt I had not done enough to protect her. But we prayed a lot for her and the other children. I was confident that the (Air Force) barracks was well secured. Traditionally, there are some medicines that would prevent bullets from penetrating one’s body. I’m an Ijebu man and a Christian, an archdeacon. But I regret that I didn’t do that traditional security for her. I told the commandant of the Air Force base in Makurdi when they called me about the incident that Sholape was my two eyes and, with her death, they have punctured my eyes, and I’m blind. My heart seeks for judgment. Nigerians are calling for judgment. The guy killed her intentionally because he wrote a suicide note. I want justice done; an eye for an eye. I think the Nigerian Air Force wants to court-martial him; they should not just court-martial him, they should terminate his life, the same way he killed my daughter.
Was she dating other people, like the killer lover alleged?
No, all he said was a lie and pretence. My daughter never had the time to move about with men. She lived with me here and we went to vigils together. She wasn’t the kind of lady that messed herself up with men. But it is just natural for someone who is mature to have a boyfriend and husband. She was mature enough to make her decision. I was expecting her to bring a man of her choice to me whenever she decided to before this unfortunate incident.
I told her to stop dating her killer — Sister
What is your name?
I am Jolade Oladipupo, 31, elder sister to Solape.
What do you do?
I work as a waitress.
How close were you to her?
We were very close. We lived together before she left for her course at the Nigerian Air Force. She travelled in January last year. She returned in June/July to spend some time with us, before she returned back to her base. When she was away, we usually spoke on the telephone until she came back to Badagry, Lagos, in December, a few days after Christmas. She went for the Air force training in January in Kaduna, then for another course in July. Then, I think she got a promotion as Air Provost and was happy about it. Since then, we have been communicating on the phone until I heard about her death.
What was your last conversation about?
We chatted on WhatsApp two days before the incident. I advised her to focus on her studies and aim higher. She told me she would purchase another Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination form when it was out to further her education. I told her to take things easy. She told me not to worry about her too much.
Did you know about the young airman she was dating at the time?
Not really. I have never seen the guy. When she returned last December, she told me that there was this Air Force guy that was asking her out, and was already proposing marriage to her. I advised her then not to rush into any relationship with any man, that she should focus more on her training and course. I told her she would meet a better person in the near future that would come for her. I had never seen her uploading the guy’s picture on Facebook before until she went back to Makurdi on December 31 last year. It was that night I saw the picture she posted on Facebook where she was with the guy in a room. An elderly married man, who knew my family, called me during the time and asked me why my sister was uploading such pictures on Facebook. He said even if she was into a relationship, she didn’t have to expose it on Facebook. Immediately, I called my sister and told her that she should forget about dating any guy or relationship and wait for her time. I think this it was in January. She accepted and said she was going to cut off every relationship. I think she did because since then, she only uploaded pictures of herself, and not with the guy. I felt really bad, when I heard it was the same guy that killed my sister. I wondered if she didn’t listen to my advice or she cut off the relationship with the guy and it caused her death. I was so confused.
How did you hear about the incident?
I got separate calls from two friends, one is a soldier and the other one is in the Nigerian Air Force based in Badagry. He and my sister were course mates in the force. I didn’t know what happened then because I was busy the previous day and didn’t go online. Then, one of the other guys called me again and said I should call my sister because it seemed something had happened in their unit. At that same time, one of my younger sisters called and was crying on the phone. They already heard the information in Ijebu Ode, Ogun State, where my parents and some of my siblings live. We are 11 children from my parents. I screamed and raised an alarm. My sister and I were very close. We were like five and six.
What kind of person was your sister?
Solape was very nice and friendly. She was a good person and faithful friend. She liked to carry people along. She could give out all her belongings to ensure that people around her were happy. Many times, she would go to the market and buy foodstuff with her money to cook meals for her family and friends – both boys and girls. I know some guys who preferred to eat in our place because they knew Solape would cook for everyone.
What were her dreams?
She said she prayed that she would be the one that would help her family and make things better for us all. She also said she wanted to help the needy and fight for her country. She didn’t like it when people cheated others and always fought against it. Aside from that, she was a gentle person. Also, she was hard working. She is someone I would describe as a ‘hustler.’ She worked in different places before she joined the air force. Both of us once worked as attendants in two filling stations. She didn’t like to stay idle, once she left a job; she would go out to look for another. She liked to be independent. She worked in the bar for about a year before she joined the air force. She had been helping the family in every way she could even before then.
What is the fondest memory you have of her?
I remember when I had a motorcycle accident in 2010. Then, she was working, and learning at the same time, in a computer school in Badagry. When she heard, she immediately rushed to the Badagry orthopaedic hospital, where I was admitted. She had to go back to the computer centre to tell them that she couldn’t continue working there anymore because her sister had an accident. She left that job to take care of me. I couldn’t walk or do anything, but she was there all the time. For a year and a half, she did everything for me, including fetching water and cleaning my excreta. I can never forget that. By God’s grace, I am still recovering.
Was she dating other people, like the killer boyfriend alleged?
No, she didn’t follow men around. She had both male and female friends because she was an accommodating person. But she wasn’t one to flirt around. If she was a flirt, she wouldn’t be hustling to look for jobs here and there. She never depended on any guy or girlfriend; rather they were the ones collecting from her. It is a big lie for the guy to say she was dating other senior officers at their base. I had advised her against having any relationship before. I remember she said that in the air force regulation, one couldn’t date someone with a higher rank.
Did your parents know about the relationship?
No, my mother didn’t know about it. We were all shocked that the guy pulled a gun at her and killed her. I have never heard of such before in my life. She had not even introduced us to the guy as a friend; talk less of wanting to get married to him. I don’t know how to classify that kind of relationship.
What do you want the authorities to do about the incident?
Even the Bible says that he who kills by the sword should die by the sword. Also, there is a law in Nigeria against murder. But, I cannot speak for the government; they know the right thing to do. They should take the right action and ensure that justice is done.
Source: Naija News