Eminent Citizens React
TRAGEDY struck in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital yesterday when the body of an Egba High Chief, Apagun Oluwole Olumide, was recovered from a lake at the premises of the Abeokuta Golf Course, Abeokuta.
It is strongly believed that Olumide, a successful man who would have been 70-years-old in May committed suicide.
The story, as told by a close associate, was that on Friday evening, the deceased went to the Abeokuta Golf Course with his driver as soon as he returned from Lagos where he was alleged to have been interrogated by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over some issues. But as soon they arrived at the Golf Course, he asked his driver to go to his Ita-Eko, Abeokuta residence to tell his security man to see him.
According to the source, on his return, his driver and the security man found his (the deceased’s) cap and shoes floating on the surface of the lake and immediately raised an alarm.
The search party, made up of local divers and men from the Ogun State Fire Service recovered the corpse at about 9am yesterday.
Chief Olumide took over ownership of the Abeokuta Golf Club some years back and re-named it Abeokuta Golf International Limited. This led to a lingering legal dispute between him and some members of the Club. But based on recommendation of a Judicial Commission of Inquiry set up by the Ogun State government as a result of the lingering dispute over ownership, the Ogun State government returned the Golf Course to its original owners in February.
Late Apagun was one time the National President of the Nigeria Golf Federation.
Armed policemen yesterday prevented journalists from getting to the scene of the incident. The corpse was sent to the morgue of the Aro Psychiatric hospital, Abeokuta at about 9am.
The newly posted state Commissioner of Police, Mr. Ikemefuna Okoye, was at the scene of the incident but declined making any comment to reporters.
As at yesterday afternoon, The Guardian gathered that Egba High Chiefs were meeting at the palace of the Egba monarch, Oba Adedotun Gbadebo, in Abeokuta to discuss the development.
Reactions poured in yesterday from eminent personalities. Dr. Lateef Adegbite, Seriki of Egbaland who spoke to The Guardian at his Abeokuta residence said: “It is sad, tragic and devastating. It is unbelievable. But God knows best.” Former Ogun State Governor, Chief Segun Osoba, who is the Akirogun of Egbaland said: “It’s too much for me to bear now. It’s not something I’m ready to talk about. It’s too much and most unfortunate. I leave everything to God.”
The immediate Ogun State Governor, Otunba Gbenga Daniel, in his reaction, said Ogun State and Nigeria had lost an “icon, and a major promoter of tourism, entrepreneurship and economic development of our people and of Egbaland in particular.”
In a statement, issued by Daniel’s Media Assistant, Mr. Adegbenro Adebanjo in Abeokuta yesterday, Daniel said “In fact, I am tempted to rate Apagun as a modern day Lisabi or Sodeke when I consider some of his silent but very effective contribution to his immediate environment. As Governor, Apagun, as he was fondly called, encouraged us to do a lot of work in Abeokuta. Together we conceptualised the development of Olumo Rock as an International Tourist Centre that it has become today.” He added: “Together, we conceptualised and developed the new Lalubu Road as our own ‘Broad Street’ and commercial nerve centre in Abeokuta. Together, we conceptualised the new Abeokuta Central Business District, which we christened the Abeokuta City Centre and he actually designed and supervised the new OPIC Plaza, the tallest building in Ogun State and second tallest in the old Western region, next only to the Cocoa House in Ibadan.”
“All these pale into insignificance when we evaluate his contribution to the development of Abeokuta Golf Course, the Waterfalls, Hotel, and rather ironically, the artificial lake where Apagun died yesterday. For Apagun, the Golf project was his life, probably in the last two decades or more. And through this project, he became the single biggest promoter of tourism by the volume of high net worth individuals that visited the state while it lasted.”
All other Chiefs, contacted by The Guardian said they would not talk until the monarch, Oba Adedotun Gbadebo, comments. Oba Gbadebo however could not be reached.