Yemi Fapohunda, a university student studying in Milan, was murdered outside the Mascota tollgate while on his way home on February 3 last year
‘He died in my arms.’ Twelve months on, a mother’s agonising wait to find out why her son died at Lekki toll gate
“He had no headache, he was always happy. He was the type of person that if he was thirsty, he would just sit down, and drink water.”
Yemi Fapohunda’s father said his daughter had raised him as her own, and that he had nursed him as if he was his own child, sharing his clothes and cuddling him. “You see, I have lived in that country for almost 40 years and I have seen a lot of things and met a lot of people… No other father could have done better for his child than I did,” he said.
Tragedy struck on the way home from the university on February 3 last year, when the 21-year-old student was knocked down by a car.
“I would have pushed him to my car but it wasn’t the right time,” Mr Fapohunda said, as he sat in his living room on a cold and dark Monday evening. His home had a huge poster of the 18-month-old boy which read: “I miss you dear, I miss you like crazy, I am a small thing and you are an even smaller one”, as he waited for answers.
14 dead in Nigerian tollgate accident Read more
“He should have been in his room watching TV, studying,” his mother said, beginning to cry as she chatted to his father. Yemi Fapohunda was buried four days after he died, but his family was still waiting for answers and closure. Three other family members were also injured and suffered broken bones.
The accident happened on a day when some of Lagos state government’s new high-tech surveillance cameras recorded a rush of drivers at the Mascota toll gate.
Some 24 hours later, another tragedy. Alioune Camara, a driver on his way home from work died as he drove across the same toll gate, possibly struck by a lorry.
The tapes did not show the accident but Italian prosecutors said he had been murdered. Witnesses said he was hit by a vehicle travelling behind.
Yemi Fapohunda’s father said Italian detectives were not allowed to enter the home of the 11-year-old Nigerian-Italian woman arrested by the mother of the murderer. She lives in Milan, near the toll gate, and is believed to have visited the Fapohondas when they visited her for the funeral. Italian police had appealed for her to return home to help in the investigation.
Italian police said Alioune Camara had been killed by fellow migrants crossing over from Libya, who threw him from the vehicle. Her son is reported to have told his mother: “That woman killed him.”
In an interview in the Corriere Della Sera newspaper, Yemi Fapohunda’s father said he had decided to divorce his wife in May 2014 when the couple discovered they were parents of the same child.
“I told her, ‘Don’t make me put a mother and a father on a death certificate’, and she ended it,” he said.
Yemi Fapohunda was buried four days after he died, but his family was still waiting for answers and closure. Italian detectives said he had been murdered
Over the weekend, Yemi Fapohunda’s father began to dream of what might have been, the other child. “My dream is that I can see my other child again, and that they can go to school together,” he said.