|Idah |credits: Kunle Falayi|
Sixty-five-year-old retired Chief Magistrate, Funmilayo Timeyin, would have hoped to live out her days off the bench in peace and relaxation. With no young child around the house, as all her children are grown up, she employed 21-year-old David Idah, a Benue State indigene, as housekeeper.
But from the moment she signed on the young man, a judgement seemed to have been passed on the magistrate’s fate.
With three cutlass blows to the neck around 6pm on Friday, March 28, 2014, the young man ended the life of the retired chief magistrate at a gated bungalow at Laderin Estate, Abeokuta, Ogun State.
Our correspondent paid a visit to the Department of Criminal Investigation, where Idah was being held on Tuesday, and the young man gave surreal details of how he came to work as Timeyin’s house help and ended up killing her.
Idah, who said he dropped out of school in Primary Six when he was living with a relation in Osogbo, Osun State, had bloodshot eyes when he was brought out of the cell by the investigating police officer attached to the case.
But when he began to speak, he neither minced words nor stuttered as he narrated what led him to kill the magistrate.
Idah said, “I came to Abeokuta from Lagos this January. I was working in a Calabar Kitchen in Ojodu-Berger (Lagos) before I lost the job. I was both a cook and a waiter there.
“I was living with my sister in Lagos but we quarrelled. She was the one who got the for me job and I was being paid N12,000. Initially, I was spending N2,000 monthly out of the money and saving N10,000 with her.
“But she later complained that I was keeping late nights, sleeping out and spending all my money without saving any with her again. I worked in the restaurant for seven months but when I became fed up with my sister’s complaints, I called a friend who works in Abeokuta here and I told him I did not like the job I was doing in Lagos and he advised me to come to Abeokuta.”
When Idah got to Abeokuta in January, he said it did not take long before he was connected with someone who arranges domestic helps for those who need them and he was told he would work in Timeyin’s house.
He said the retired chief magistrate took him in and put him on a N10,000 salary per month.
“I initially liked the job but later, the woman, who was nice to me before, changed. I started getting tired of the job,” Idah said.
Asked what he did that made his boss to change her attitude towards him, he said, “She accused me of behaving badly. And I did nothing wrong. She would call the person who connected me to her and complain all the time.”
But when our correspondent asked Idah if he was merely ‘accused’ of behaving badly or actually doing something wrong like stealing from Timeyin, Idah paused for a while.
Then after a long pause, he said “Well, I stole some things because she was maltreating me. I stole two mobile phones, DVD player and speakers, perfume, wrist watches, three trousers and four shirts belonging to her son.
“I planned to sell them. She did not pay me my salary. I wanted to sell those things and use the money to leave. But she discovered that I stole them and handed me over to the police.”
Saturday PUNCH learnt that soon after, the police informed Timeyin that the young man would be charged to court. She pleaded with the police to release Idah but disengaged him from her employ.
However, a few days after Idah was released from custody, he decided to pay a last visit to his former boss’ house.
He told Saturday PUNCH, “After I was released by the police, I realised I still had some of my things at mama’s (deceased’s) house. I went to the house in the evening and placed a ladder on the fence.
“I jumped into the compound and took the cutlass I used in the house to cut grass. I laid an ambush in and waited till she came out of the house. When she came out, I hit her on the neck with the cutlass, I hit her again and again because I was angry.
“I only hit her three times. She was screaming and that attracted the neighbours. She was shouting ‘help, help!’, so I dropped the cutlass and jumped over the fence. I hid in the bush behind the house.
“Some neighbours who rushed inside and saw her quickly told other neighbours and the vigilante in the area to surround the bush. They were about 25 people. They sighted me in the bush where I hid and got hold of me while I was trying to escape.”
After Idah was overpowered by the vigilante in the area, he was promptly secured with a rope while they notified the police.
“I did not even think of the consequences while I was hitting her, I was just angry with the woman,” Idah said.
Efforts to save Timeyin were futile. She died before she could get to the hospital.
But the Police Public Relations Officer of the state command, Mr. Muyiwa Adejobi, told Saturday PUNCH that the young man was being economical with the truth when he said he was being maltreated by the retired magistrate and that she did not pay him what was due to him.
He said, “When the woman went to plead with the police to release him, she was even preaching to him, telling him that he should change his ways so that he could be successful in life.
“The woman herself wrote a letter of withdrawal to the police. She said she did not want him tried. She was just a peaceful woman who did not want to compound the suspect’s woes. But she disengaged him there and then.”
Adejobi said Idah, whose parents currently live in Benue State, would be charged to court soon.
“Even though it is a clear case, the police would perfect the investigation so that his prosecution would run without hitches. We have enough evidence to charge him with murder,” he said.
However, our correspondent also paid a visit to the Laderin Estate home of the deceased; a quiet neighbourhood lined by bungalows.
A man who opened the gate identified himself as Olumide, the deceased’s son but he promptly declined speaking on anything relating to the case or the life of his mother.
Olumide was said to have been one of the first people to get to the scene of the crime. He was said to have gone out but came back shortly after his mother was given the killer blows.
However, Idah was charged to court on Friday on one count of murder, three days after Saturday PUNCH spoke with him. He was remanded in prison by an Abeokuta Magistrate’s Court while his case was referred to the Directorate of Public Prosecution for advice.
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