By Ernest Omoarelojie
WHEN the news of the possible abduction of 22 year-old Oluwabamise Ayanwole broke at about 7pm on Saturday, February 26, 2022, Nigerians who listened to the voice message she exchanged with one of her friends were stunned. Amidst all the no-news vacuum that followed, apprehension rose to new heights. But like many parents, this writer prayed that it would turned out to be an unnecessary fear, that she would come out free, hale and hearty and return home to her loved ones. But it was not to be.
Barely 24 hours later, her lifeless body was found somewhere at Ogogoro community, (what a name for a place to find a murdered victim) along the Carter Bridge. Belly-wrenched, the whole nation watched in horrendous dismay, prayers obviously unanswered, as her lifeless images flooded the social media.
There were more heart rendering images, one of them being that of her emotionally wacked mother, reeling in shock as she contended with the reality of her daughter’s brutal last moments. Only a heart of stone would watch without dropping a tear or two.
The discovery of Ayanwole’s lifeless body triggered more frenetic actions, at least, on the part of the police. Above all else however, there was the urgent need to find the driver of the Lagos State-run BRT in which she commuted while alive, just before she was found dead.
Thankfully, she made the task easier having communicated very essential details of the bus, including the serial number, driver’s queer attitude, number of passengers, to one of her friends while on transit.
Less than 24 hours after finding her lifeless body, the police nabbed the driver, identified as Andrew Nice Ominikoron (Did he call himself “Nice”? Okunrin yen ko nice ra ra o!). He gave an early account of what transpired, if what he said, as seen on the social media, which essentially didn’t quite add up, can be so described.
But while people were still trying to sift through his claims, enough to unravel the extent of his culpability, another lady came out with details of her traumatizing experience in the hands of the same Mr Nice. Luckier as she turned out, her ordeal followed what appears now to be his textbook operating ritual-turn off all inner lights, pick no other passenger or pick up only those alighting before point rendezvous.
She also recalled him acting queer, wearing a lewd look before opening up sexually explicit conversation that said so much about his intention. That much Ayanwole recounted in her discussion before all communications to or from her ceased.
The raped woman added that Nice decided to compensate her with the sum of N3, 000 after having his way. He transferred the money into her account, details provided, just so that she would get some pain-easing drugs.
Until now, she confessed, she couldn’t summon the courage to reveal details of what transpired for fear of being stigmatized. However, she had to discuss it with one of her friends when details of what happened to Ayanwole began to filter in, during which she saw and recognized the face and name of her violator, Mr Nice whose bank account name rhymed anyway.
“While on our way, he switched off the light of the bus, but the AC was on. But as we approached the first toll gate coming from Ajah, he suddenly parked the bus. He then told me to come and sit at the front and started asking me different questions.
“I saw him using a drug and my thinking was that he parked the bus to use the drug before time ran out. A few minutes later, he started making advances towards me and I saw that his manhood had risen up. I became very uncomfortable and insisted on getting down, but he didn’t open the door.
“He said he wanted both of us to go and chill and that he wanted to have sex with me, but I declined. Suddenly, he brought out a knife and dragged me to the back seat of the bus. He told me to take off my clothes, but I refused. He threatened to kill me. He tore my gown, forcefully removed the biker short I wore and raped me. I felt sad.”
Yet, another lady victim, a medical doctor, who was luckier than either Ayanwole or the raped lady, just released details of her rough shod encounter with the same Mr Nice.
Victim number three said she went to see a friend in Ikorodu after which she called for an Uber when it was time to return to her Ketu home. But for reasons of distance, the Uber ride was unavailable hence she had to take the next option-a public ride with BRT coming in to the rescue, so to speak. Except that it came with a bus load of trauma.
Like the Ayanwole and the raped lady’s cases, it was a late evening, about 7:30pm when she boarded the bus. But no sooner had she boarded than Mr Nice switched off the inner lights, got off the regular BRT lane, opting instead for the regular vehicular route, effectively shutting out other passengers.
Typically too, he switched on his lewd looks, opened his usual conversation about ‘chilling out’ which the doctor lady had to play along with instinctively, according to her accounts. It got really hot that at some point, he switched off the engine, came over to where she sat, revved up his quest for a run in the hay at the back end of the bus after attempting to run his hands all over her and after ensuring he got her two cell phone numbers which he dialed to ensue were correct. The lady provided screen shots of the call, his number and dates glaringly evident.
Not done, he reportedly shoved her from her seat to the back end of the bus to have his way. But believing her insistence that she’d be around for a more decorous ‘touching body’ with him the next day, he let go of her, went back to his driver’s seat, turned on the ignition and drove off, not forgetting to also turn on all inner lights and pick passengers. Mr Nice for sure.
This is what she wrote of her encounter with Mr Nice:
“He talked about spending the night with him and all the nonsense but I politely deflected with the excuse that I’ve already stayed out much later than agreed and my parents were calling me but that I could see him the next day or even spend the entire weekend, weekend I would already be in Asaba.
“It’s actually not funny. From the conversation he said his name was Andrew, he doesn’t usually ply that route, that he’s more on the Island, and lives in Shagamu and would most likely not see me again, that I’m scamming him.
“By this time, he had gotten to the next bus stop, still refused to pick anybody, instead moved ahead a bit and parked and put out the bus lights. There was stark darkness within, though the street lights illuminated the surroundings so I could see people but no one could see me.
“How do I signal these passers-by for help? Everywhere was still tightly locked in all of this so all conversations were contained within. He said we should move to the back row and talk better.
“My body language kept speaking unease, and I kept looking at my wrist watch signalling to him that I was late and we could meet earlier the next day, anywhere he wanted and talk as long as he wanted.
“By this time, he had already collected my phone numbers, yeah, he ensured to collect the 2 lines he saw on my phone, dialed both to ensure I wasn’t giving him wrong numbers and saw them ring. As earlier said, my best bet at safety was to go with the flow, while strategizing for better options, and so I did.
“Baba dragged me by the hands, and as usual I didn’t struggle but followed him to the back row. By now it was established in my head that this is most likely going to end as an attempted but failed rape case…”
The major take away lesson with both the raped lady’s and doctor’s details is that the police may be dealing with a serial sex offender. Among others, they may have to work with the theory that his encounter with Ayanwole is one of many. And that it turned awry when the latter, already aware that she was in one Helluvah dangerous situation, decided to brave the odds by physically resisting him. However, determined to have his way while ensuring that he is not given away, he took matters too far, too fast and ended up snuffing life out of her, perhaps inadvertently. Done, it dawned on him that he’d gone beyond the ordinary hence he bolted.
The situation is such that the police will have to dust up all X-files involving missing and or dead persons, particularly those of women, with outcomes connected to movement from one area to another. They will have to question Mr Nice far more than his involvement with the Ayanwole incident.
To that extent, they would need to invite the ladies who have so far bravely come out to narrate their ordeals and identified Mr Nice as their violator. More than that, they must extend the invitation as there may be other victims, including married women, who, for obvious reasons, have not found the courage to come out into the open. They should be invited to do identity check just so that they are certain of the extent of Mr Nice’s involvement in other incidents beyond what they have on hand.
The reason is that it is possible the cases in the open may just be a tip of the iceberg, an eye opener into what he may have been involved with. It is likely that these open cases are not the only ones, that he just got too confident and emboldened with the Ayanwole incident, having successfully got away with too many others in the past. But with the opportunity of his arrest, no stone should be left unturned.
Even as the police act on the case as expected here, Lagos state must explain why its buses are without close circuit cameras as initially promised. The state must also explain why it outsourced the management of the transportation outfit to a firm without any regard for due diligence while empoying their contract staff. If all these were in place, Ayanwole would still be alive.