The man Olu Onagoruwa and Oputa Panel

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By Ikenna Emewu

That day in the second week of November 2000, former Attorney-General and Justice Minister, Dr. Olu Onagoruwa stepped into the witness box to narrate the gruesome murder of his young son, Oluwatoyin.

But the tears of the pains of his loss barely allowed him to. Amid sobs and intermittently wiping away tears, he went on and on and melted hearts as many joined him in shedding tears as he finally broke down in emotion.

Onagoruwa was partly choking in sobs in addition to his almost paralysed hands that could hardly hold the microphone that the head of the Human Rights Violations Investigations Commission (HRVIC) popularly known as Oputa Panel, Justice Chukwudifu Akunne Oputa pleaded with him to stop if he could not stomach the emotions.

He alleged that Barnabas Mshelia, popularly known as Rogers and Col. Omenka, working for the Abacha squad killed his son to spite him for resigning his appointment. Even prominent rights activist, Gani Fawehinmi, who in a media report had mocked him after the loss felt sorry for Onagoruwa that day. He said killing his son he repeatedly called Oluwatoyin was to wreck his life.

His appointment in the Abacha cabinet had pitted him against his colleagues in the human rights sector of legal profession including Fawehinmi who alleged that Onagoruwa jumped ship to dine with devils. Onagoruwa died at 80 and had been down with stroke for close to 20 years.

Testifying that day, Onagoruwa’s tears that he could not hold back made many watchers break down too. It was a day Nigerians joined Onagoruwa to weep for his slain son. But tears never brought back Oluwatoyin that had been long silenced. He walked into the panel sitting that day with difficulty in his gait and later said he took down with stroke under the pains of the loss of his son and that he never recovered from Oluwatoyin’s assassination by people he said targeted him and felt taking down his son would greatly hit him thereby leaving him incapacitated.

Nigerians will always remember him as the man the goons wrecked and who mourned his lost son all his remaining days for almost 20 years as he never fully recovered from the stroke he came down with after the assassination.

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