27th July, 2011
It is no longer news that an unemployed (or is he unemployable?) graduate, Akolade Arowolo, 30, allegedly murdered his wife of three years, 29-year-old Titilayo, a banker and mother of their only child, Miss Olamide Arowolo, aged two and a half years.
A national daily broke the news on Monday, 27 June, 2011. Titilayo was allegedly killed on 24 June, 2011 at their 8, Dr. Akinsehinde Street, Aswani Estate, Isolo, Lagos, southwest Nigeria.
There were cries of outrage by rights activists, lawyers and other well-meaning Nigerians on the dastardly act. But the challenges the alleged murder posed to news scouts are multi-dimentional. Because it has remained a running story, reporters owe their readers the responsibility to keep them abreast of the latest development.
For example, when our correspondent returned from the Lagos State Police Command headquarter the day Arowolo was paraded and reported that Arowolo will be sent to a psychiatric hospital for a test, the first question I asked him was â€œwhich of the psychiatric hospitals, Yaba or Aro, Abeokuta?â€ when he replied, â€œI donâ€™t know,â€ I felt disappointed. Perhaps the hospital may be the next port of call for newshounds to sniff for the result.
The greatest challenge, I believe came from the Deputy Governor of Lagos State, Mrs. Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire. She charged the police to ensure that the matter was not swept under the carpet. I have reasons to disagree with the quarter, the number two citizen of Lagos State directed her charge. The right group to direct her request would have been the gentlemen of the press.
If reporters will not allow the tempo that greeted the breaking of the story and the subsequent follow-ups to die down, then woe betide a police officer who might want to sweep under the carpet an alleged story given prominence in Nigerian dailies regularly.
For example, a Lagos-based soft sell magazine not only reported the arraignment of Akolade Arowolo before a Yaba Chief Magistrateâ€™s Court on 8 July 2011 on a holden charge of murder, but the magazine took a commendable step further when its reporter did a follow up by locating his cell at the Ikoyi prisons in Lagos.
The trial magistrate, Mrs. Demi Ajayi, has also sought the advice of the Director of Public Prosecution, DPP, on the matter. I hope when the case comes up for mention on the next date of adjournment on 9 September, reporters will be there for an update.
Aside the development at the magistrateâ€™s court, reporters have not dug into the immediate past of Titilayo and Arowolo. Curious readers will like to know how long the couple courted before their wedding?
Can the public know who was the link between them? On the surface, Arowolo looks gentle, was he a cultist at UNILAG? Was he a womanizer? Who snatched who? Did he snatched his late wife from a man or Titilayo forced herself on him? Where was their residence before they rented the N1.3 million flat and moved in only last November? Where are those who used to make peace between the couple during their past brawl?
There are a thousand and one questions still begging for answers.
By the time reporters address these and many other posers, it will become difficult or better still impossible for any police officer to sweep the matter under the carpet. That is the herculean task before reporters.