Damilare Taiwo, an Economics student at the University of Lagos, Akoka a day after he resumed for training at the Nigerian Defence Academy in Kaduna State.
The army authorities reportedly said the 20-year-old slumped and died during a training session last Tuesday.
But the family told Saturday PUNCH that the circumstances surrounding Damilare’s death aroused suspicion, claiming that he was beaten to death.
A brilliant student with a CGPA said to be in the range of Second Class Upper Division, the native of Ile-Ife, Osun State had always wished to be an accomplished army officer.
He had applied for the Regular Combatant Course of the NDA. He was shortlisted on August 8, 2018, among the 10 selected candidates from Osun State for the 70 Regular Combatant Course, coincidentally at a time when he was rounding off his first degree project.
On Saturday, August 25, his father saw him off to Ikorodu Garage – some distance from their residence – beaming with joy that the first child of the family was about to embark on a journey to attain enviable ranks in the profession he had been nursing for years.
“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,” the deceased’s father, Mr. Taiwo Oyedele, told our correspondent.
“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.
“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).”
“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.
While Oyedele managed to control his emotion, his wife, was inconsolable, crying uncontrollably. She had passed out on hearing the sad news and did not regain consciousness until she was taken to a hospital. She said mournfully,
“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.”
Damilare’s younger brother, Moses, explained that his death was painful, noting that he died with many beautiful plans he had for the family.
Moses, who also claimed his brother died under questionable circumstances, urged the military authorities to conduct a postmortem on his corpse.
“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.”