That was the day the first set of armed robbers faced firing squad. Babatunde Folorunsho, Joseph Ilobo and wait for it…William Alders Oyazimo, Sub Lt., of the navy. Oyazimo and Ilobo had appeared before the Lagos state robbery and firearms tribunal, chaired by James Agboola Ojomo.
The duo were accused of robbing One Alhaja Taibatu Opene of a loud speaker and record player valued at the equivalent of N320. Oyazimo pleaded not guilty, just like Ilobo. Folorunsho was not bothered about the crime because he owned up and gave himself out as a jailbird. The trio were sentenced to death for robbing with violence.
The young naval officer maintained he was being shot wrongly. “If you search your conscience, you will know that a naval officer of my status, will never go in the dead of the night to steal.
I’ll die today, innocent of the crime for which i am condemned,” he told journalists. Many went emotional when Oyazimo broke down before military chaplain, Col Pedro Martins. The Monsignor had asked him to pray for forgiveness. “Father, I am innocent. My blood will cleanse my family, and my children will prosper,” the condemned said amid sobs. Ilobo sang the same tune. “Make una go call that Alhaja, make she come see we die”, he screamed shortly before the deed was done.
Oyazimo was one of the pioneers that started what we know today as the Nigeria navy in 1958.Oyazimo joined as a seaman alongside John Brambaefa, who today is addressed as Senator, and Duncan Abebele. Wey moved in as an officer. Abebele, who fought in the Civil War as a gunner on then Captain Akin Aduwo’s warship that also had Lt. Suleiman Seidu, was away in India when his buddy was shot. And he may yet recover from the shock of that bloodletting.
“He[Oyazimo] did not rob anyone, he was accused of robbery by an Alhaja. His wife Esther was doing business with the Alhaja, and they went to Cotonou to buy goods.
On the way back, the Customs seized their goods. So the Alhaja reported to the officer what happened, and pleaded with him to intervene. The officer told the Alhaja to use her money to clear the goods, with a promise to refund her later when he had money. After clearing the goods, the deal backfired and the Alhaja did not get back her money as promised, and later accusations came up from the Alhaja that the officer used a pistol on her”, Abebele told the Punch newspaper in 2010.
Well, Oyazimo could have gone wrong in one way or more, using his military background. But was he really a robber? Could he have said all those last words, even if he was guilty? I am pained and I still fell for those children who must be adults now.
It is better for one to lose a dad over coup plot allegations than to be called the child of an armed robber. Commander Tony Ogwiji’s children have nothing to be ashamed of simply because their father was killed in 1986 over a coup plot.
At the same time, such naval officers who passed through that dangerous part, like Cdr. L.M.O. Fabiyi, Lt. A. Olowookere , Lt Cdr. N.N. Soetan  and Lt Cdr. Yakubu Kudambo , are alive and so free even if bruised psychologically.
My prayer is for the Navy to look into Oyazimo’s case and come out with a report. It might not be medicine after death. It could be more than pain reliever. His children should at least feel proud to name their dad in a public gathering. He who feels it, knows it.