30- year-old Temitope Malik, eldest son on the late 62 years old security guard at Federal University, Oye Ekiti, Matthew Malik, who was killed in his farm at the Irona farmland at Oye Ekiti, tells ABIODUN NEJO, that his father’s death has robbed the family of many things. Excerpts:
Who was your dad?
He was Matthew Malik, 62 years old and until his death, he worked as a security guard with the Federal University, Oye Ekiti. He was married to a wife and had six children – three males, three females.
How will you describe him?
He was a very gentle and quiet person. He was easy-going. He was not the argumentative or controversial type. He was a blunt person and a disciplinarian to the core. He said things the way they were regardless of whoever you were. That was why we, his children, held him with high regard and comport ourselves whenever he was at sight. He was a very hardworking person. He was always at his farm either before or after his work shift at FUOYE. And above all, he was a child of God.
Maybe his being a disciplinarian had pitted him against some people!
I think so because when he started the job as a security guard at FUOYE, I remember I once discussed with him that he should not extend the strict way he treated his children at home to FUOYE students because the children of nowadays involved themselves in different deadly things including cultism and drugs. I remember telling him that he should take it easy with the students. I want to believe that affected him one way or the other. For instance, there was a day one of the two suspects who are now in custody over his murder came to my mum’s shop and had argument with my mum and in the process locked my mum in the neck, but unfortunately for him, dad appeared at the scene and slapped the guy in a bid to set my mum free. Since then, they said the guy had been threatening my dad. From my own research, the guy is a cult member. The development might have angered dad, who said if the guy were his own child, that was how he would have treated him.
How was your dad’s relationship with neighbours?
Very smooth and lovely. Since this incident happened, a lot of people have been coming. Even for the king, the Oloye of Oye Ekiti, Oba Oluwole Ademolaju, to get involved. The king promised that he would ensure the people involved in the dastardly act were fished out. The king said what he had heard about my dad showed that he was different from others. Since Friday, October 9 that the incident happened, till yesterday, Monday, a lot of people were still trooping here, giving beautiful remarls about him, saying my dad did not deserve that kind of death.
Are you insinuating that the land dispute might not be linked with his death?
What I said earlier was that there are two suspects in the police custody over the murder. The first one is the guy that slapped my sister and locked my mum in the neck, who my dad slapped and the second suspect, who is the major suspect, is a timber operator. He was one of the three timber operators that cut timber on my dad’s land. After three weeks, the operators did not go to the farm to pack the logs and my dad had already cleared the place to start planting crops on it. My dad now approached the man (who is now in custody) to ask why the operator should leave the logs in his farmland. My dad urged him to come and pack the logs so that he could begin planting. But the man begged dad that he would come and do that without delay and that dad should not report him to the owner of the neighbouring farmland where he cut the trees from. Dad gave him another one week grace, but he still did not come to pack the wood. Dad then went ahead to report him to the farmland owner so that the wood would be packed from my da’s farm. It then became an issue between the timber operators and the owner of the neighbouring farmland. It was the next time that dad went to the farm to work when he was killed.
So, you now suspect the operators were responsible for the death!
They are the major suspects. Since the incident happened and the arrest of the timber operator, Babau, the remaining two guys who worked for him – Taiye and Idowu have been on the run. We are persuaded that if they did not do anything wrong, they would not be on the run. But so far so good, the State Criminal Investigation Department said the one arrested is cooperating with them through giving the law enforcement agents some necessary information.
But did you make any effort to inform the police when the issue of the farmland came up initially?
I was not around. I just came around from Ilorin, Kwara State capital, where I work. It was when he was killed that my mum called me that dad had been killed. I was not even aware of the farmland issue, but my mum said as the issue was going, when dad came back from work, he kept reporting to her about the matter that the operators had not yet packed the logs. But they did not make any attempt to report the matter to the police. It was only the case of the first guy that threatened to kill him that was reported to the police.
How did the killing incident happen?
I was in the office when my mum called me that I should start coming to Oye Ekiti that dad had been killed. It was on my arrival that she narrated the story to me that they held the morning devotion together that fateful morning following which he left for the farm. That day, he was in the afternoon shift which started by 12 noon. Then, at about 12.30pm to 1pm, his colleagues at work called mum that it was unusual that dad was not at work yet. Mum was surprised and attemped to call his number which did not go through. Mum then took a bike to the farm. When she got there, she met dad in a pool of blood. He had been killed. Even the body was already stiff. That was how she started shouting.
What was the nature of killing?
From the research made, the people clubbed him to death. Dad bent down while working on the farm; he did not know that some people were already in the bush monitoring him. They hit him in the head with stick. After that, they poured chemical on his dead body. Initially, we thought the chemical poured on him was acid, but medical report showed it was not acid but the chemicals that timber operators put on trees to dry it up before they cut them with machines. The chemical is very powerful, they poured it in his mouth and body.
But there were insinuations that he was killed by gunmen!
He was not shot at. There are speculations that the people might have approached that farmland with guns, but they did not use the gun on him. That was why the reports said gunmen.
So, how far have the police gone on the matter?
The State CID has been cooperating, even the commissioner of police, Tunde Mobayo, said he was interested in the case. I was with the deputy commissioner of police last week; he promised that the police would get to the root of the matter. They have been helping. They said that the two suspects would be charged to court anytime from now and that the two guys on the run would also be apprehended. They promised that they would do everything to make sure that the culprits are brought to book. These are what they have promised us so far, but we don’t want to underestimate what the other people can do, that is why we are calling on everybody to rise for us to ensure justice. My dad, who was killed in that manner, did not deserve that kind of death. They said we should do autopsy, which we learned would cost us around N200,000. We are calling on every individual that can help us to get justice.
His remains were taken to Kogi State for burial on Tuesday, October 20. What delayed the burial?
The king said he was interested in the case; he said they must get to the root of the matter, that he wants to know the people that carried out the killing, so he had been delaying the burial that he sent some people out to go spiritual to know who did this and who did that, that if the body is buried that it will be difficult. I met with the monarch, they are still 50 per cent into it, but I could not leave my dad like that because the last time I went to check his body in the morgue, going by the nature of the chemical pured on him, the body looked totally different, so I had to beg the king that he should allow me to go and bury my dad so that he could rest in peace. He then said I could go ahead.
What does dad’s death mean to the family?
It is a great loss. I am the eldest child, I have two sisters in the university. Our youngest brother is about five years old. Despite being a security guard, my dad wanted all his children educated. He was fond of saying his children would get the education which he could not get. His death means a great loss to the family. We pray that God will console us and we pray that God will send helpers to us. As it is, the responsibility of the family will be borne by only one paerson – our mum, who is a petty trader.
So, how has the family been coping without dad since the incident?
It has not been easy. It has been all tears for my mum. We have been trying to console her. Everytime, daytime, nighttime, she is crying.
What will you miss about dad?
I will miss the way he spoke with me and my family on the phone, the way he advised me to put me on the right path, the way he spoke with me about God and the way he always checked on me through the phone. I will miss his advice to me on education. He was fond of telling me the need for further studies – masters and Phd.
Did you or any member of the family have any premonition of his death?
We did not. But I think I should have, only that I did not take cognizance of that. My birthday was October 10, but we lost our dad October 9. I was so surprised that he sent me birthday message on October 1. It had never happened before as he always sent such on October 10. I just took it as another method, I should have, from that angle, started thinking otherwise. But I never saw it coming.
What were his unfulfilled ambitions?
My two sisters are the first to attend university in this family, he was fond of saying that he would celebrate them and be happy on their graduation day. He always said that he wanted to get promotion at his work place that even at his age, he would have to sit for examiniation to ensure that he got promotion. And the major one which is the most painful is the house he was building in Oye Ekiti here. I saw where he analysed the roofing estimates for the house, he was about roofing the house when the incident happened. The money is already in his account, just for him to roof the house. He was always saying that this year would be the last year he would stay in a rented house.