Adelani Adepegba, Abuja
A 26-year old secondary school leaver, Oluwaseyi Babatola, who burnt to death five family members while they were sleeping, says he is being haunted daily by the memories of the children he murdered.
Babatola, who spoke with our correspondent in Abuja, stated that he was disturbed by the thoughts of the two children that died along with their grandmother, mother and uncle, when he set their apartment on fire on April 15, 2015, at Sabongari, Bwari, in the Federal Capital Territory.
The fire consumed the whole building, including the apartment of the Babatolas, and also injured the suspect.
Babatola, who is being detained by the FCT Special Anti-Robbery Squad, identified his victims as Janet Isuawa; her sons, Samuel and Osaze; her cousin, Taphael; and Janet’s mother.
Babatola, a mobile phone technician, stated that he had wanted to commit suicide after setting the family on fire, but was dissuaded by his younger brother, James, who asked him to report the incident to the police.
Explaining what led to the tragedy, the suspect said he started dating Janet, a divorcee, sometime ago, adding that he supported her and the children financially.
According to him, the relationship developed problems after he demanded sex, noting that each time he asked for sex, Janet would turn him down and taunt him.
Babatola said matters came to a head on April 12 when Janet informed him that his mother had told her that he suffered from hernia and therefore could not date him.
He said, “Janet said my mother told her that I suffer from hernia, and that she could not date me; she called me a ‘mugu’ (fool), and said she had chopped my money. So, I went to where she was charging the phone I bought for her and took it.
“She attacked me and bit my chest, and as I struggled to free myself from her grip, her cousin, Taphael, came in and pushed me down and held me there while she beat me with her fists. After I left the house, Janet’s younger sister called me on the telephone and abused me, saying they would deal with me if I come to the house again.”
Babatola stated that he moved to an area called Arab Road in Bwari, where he stayed with a friend, adding that he kept getting telephone calls from Janet’s sister, who said he would be dealt with if he went back to the house.
“On the night of April 15, around 11pm, I went to the house and found that the gate was locked. I scaled the fence into the compound. I went towards Janet’s room and saw her sleeping, as the window was opened because there was no power supply. I went to the bathroom, where she kept a gallon of fuel and poured it into the room through the window; the room caught fire from a lighted lantern,” he said.
He further explained that he headed for the nearby bush to kill himself after coming to his senses.
“I headed for the bush to hang myself, but my phone suddenly rang and my brother told me that our house just got burnt; I told him I did it and that I was about to commit suicide. He said I should not, and persuaded me to report to the police,” Babatola added.
The technician said every night, he remembered how he used to relate with Janet’s two sons, noting that he had not been able to erase their memories from his mind.
“I can’t get them off my mind, they haunt me every time; I thought it was only Janet that was in the room, I didn’t know the children were there. I thought they had gone for a vigil with their grandmother who attended vigil every Thursday,” he said.
A senior police officer said Babatola did not know that he had killed all the family members, until he saw their charred corpses the next morning.
The police said the suspect would be charged to court soon.