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Japa couple crisis: Nigerian kills wife in UK over bills

Japa couple crisis: Nigerian kills wife in UK over bills %Post Title

In a heart-wrenching turn of events, Nigerian nurse and mother of three, Taiwo Owoeye Abodunde, met a tragic end on a chilly Tuesday morning at Newmarket, Suffolk, the United Kingdom (UK). The circumstances surrounding her death unravelled a tale of marital discord, domestic turbulence, and a police response now under intense scrutiny. As the community grapples with the loss, there are questions about the adequacy of interventions, weaving a narrative that transcends borders and cultures. OLATUNDE KAZEEM, London Bureau Chief, reports

On a chilly Tuesday morning, Suffolk Police, England responded to a grave incident at 259 Exning Road, Newmarket, Suffolk — a suburban terrace in the market town of West Suffolk. It was here that they discovered the lifeless body of Taiwo Owoeye Abodunde, a nurse and mother of three, lying on the floor of her living room. The police’s grim discovery was an unplanned encounter, prompted by a follow-up visit related to a previous report of assault made against her estranged husband, David Olubunni Abodunde.

According to the police, the visit was scheduled as “a pre-arranged meeting to gather evidence in relation to the assault allegations made against Olubunni Abodunde on November 27 by Taiwo, which led to his arrest.” The police report indicated that they arrived at 259 Exning Road, Newmarket, Taiwo’s home address, at 9:55 am on Tuesday, November 28, 2023. Upon entering the residence, they discovered her unresponsive on the living room floor. Despite prompt medical attention, paramedics declared Taiwo dead at the scene.

Olubunni Abodunde, the husband, was found inside the residence and subsequently arrested on suspicion of her murder. He was then taken to Martlesham Police Investigation Centre for questioning and later appeared at Ipswich Crown Court and Suffolk Magistrates’ Court for a preliminary hearing.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) is also investigating the force’s response as officers had been called to the address earlier. A spokesperson for the IOPC said: “We can confirm we have received a referral from Suffolk Constabulary in relation to this incident and we are carrying out an assessment to determine what further action may be required from us.” The intervention of IOPC was prompted by a suspicious failing by the Police over a previous correspondence with the Taiwo’s family on November 27, 2023, over previous assault.

The Police added: “On Monday 27th November 2023, Taiwo contacted Suffolk Police reporting an assault by Olubunni on her that day and a further assault from 15th August 2023. Olubunni was arrested on suspicion of both assaults at 10:23am 27/11/2023. He was released from police custody at 6:20pm 27/11/2023 with police bail conditions. The Police Bail conditions imposed were: Not to go to 239 Exning Road, Newmarket, CB9 0AY. Not to contact Taiwo Abodunde directly or indirectly except via a third party to arrange child contact.

“The incorrect address of 239 Exning Road, Newmarket on the bail condition should have in fact been recorded as 259 Exning Road, Newmarket. When Suffolk Police attended Taiwo’s address on Tuesday 28th November, this was for a pre-arranged meeting to gather evidence in relation to the assault allegations that were made against Olubunni Abodunde on 27th November which led to his arrest. Because of these recent police contact with Taiwo, Suffolk Constabulary have made a referral to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC).

“We will keep you updated on this process. We also want to make you aware we initially identified two scenes in relation to what happened but following our enquiries we have removed one scene, but one remains in place. This continues to be a location where evidence is present.”

More than anything else, this chance finding by the police of the dead formed a leg in the intrigue and misfortune suffered by a family that was enmeshed in marital distrust, domestic abuse and the struggle for economic survival right out of the sleepy towns of Ipoti Ekiti and Igogo Ekiti. The late Taiwo was a native of Igogo Ekiti and Olubunmi from Ipoti Ekiti. They both met at Otun Ekiti in 2004 during a 7th Day Adventist Church social-religious camp for young people. It wasn’t love at first sight, but Taiwo would later agree to date and marry Bunmi following persistent pressure and persuasion from the husband.

Both Ipoti Ekiti in Ijero Local Government Area and Igogo Ekiti in the Moba Local government area are located in Ekiti state -Southwest geopolitical region of Nigeria. Known for its myths and festivals, the two towns are roughly 15 miles of each other. Igogo Ekiti is popular for its royal folklore of Queen Oronsen who while married to King Rerengejen fled the palace in anger because of the conspiracy against her. She would be immortalised with a terra cotta image near ‘Igbo Oluwa’ a sacred forest in the town. Natives make annual ritual sacrifice of different articles, such as dried fish, colanut, alligator pepper, and bitter cola in return for her spiritual protection of the kingdom.

Interestingly, the tradition and folklore of Ipoti Ekiti is also woven around a wife who was assured after Ifa divination that she would have three male issues on the account of faith, belief and offering to placate the gods. The late Taiwo and her estranged husband, Olubunmi Abodunde, have three male children David 16, Daniel 14 and Jetemi 11. The husband, Olubunmi Abodunde, 47-year-old self-declared engineer migrated to the United Kingdom in November 2022 with the three children to join his wife of 17 years. But their marriage, which withstood several challenges, soon began to disintegrate over controlling behaviour, domestic violence, allegations of infidelity and distrust. He became verbally violent, kept throwing fist and calling the wife unprintable names, said Adekunle Owoeye, the twin brother to the late Taiwo.

 It’s hard to overstate what a cataclysmic episode this was for the couple and the people of the two neighboring towns of Igogo and Ekiti where the case had dominated airwaves and street conversation since last week. Adekunle Owoeye, speaking on behalf of the late Taiwo’s family recalled an incident some years back in Igogo Ekiti when Bunmi and Taiwo attended an event where the couple exchanged hot arguments and fists over where to sleepover after. Bunmi was said to have hit the wife and the mother-in-law who protested his violent behaviour. The matter was later resolved by the two kings of the towns; the Onigogo of Igogo Ekiti HRM Oba Sunday Adewunmi, Okinbaloye the 1st and the Olupoti of Ipoti Ekiti, HRM Oba Oladipupo Kolade.

HRM Oba Sunday Adewunmi, Okinbaloye said he was very disheartened to hear about the sudden demise of the late Taiwo because of the hard-work put in by the royal house to make the marriage work and the guidance he provided for Taiwo to help the family in their pursuit for better life overseas.

“My sister had endured a lot of assaults from Bunmi over petty marital issues,” said the twin brother Adekunle Owoeye.

Adekunle described the past 18 years as a ‘living nightmare’ for the late sister. But he added: “I was elated and relieved that my sister was traveling overseas where domestic violence cannot happen. She had not long earlier retrieved her academic certification from the husband after he hid it for 10 years over envy to stop Taiwo from earning her own income independently.”

The relocation was indeed ominous as family members recalled the worry and excitement that greeted the news of their relocation to the United Kingdom. Elder Ayo Abodunde, who is an uncle to the husband, said he was very happy but also worried about the couple given the previous intervention of third parties in their issues.

“I counselled Bunmi to be very patient and understanding when dealing with women and especially a wife. I told him that he has to avoid any situation that will lead to arguments and fights, especially because of their children and the domestic law in the new country.”

He added that the tension is now very high in the two towns over the sad development. “I have now arranged for our family to go to Igogo Ekiti on Wednesday (today) to visit and engage the other family (late Taiwo’s) on the way forward.

A neighbour living near the unfortunate home of the couple in Newmarket described her routine observation: “I came home to see that the whole street was just covered in police and ambulances, but two days prior there were police. I knew it was something really bad with the amount of police here and the way they were not telling anyone anything. Normally they say something, but they were very hush-hush.”

Another added: “It’s just awful, everyone is really shocked. I used to see some young boys kicking a ball about in their garden.”

In a condolence note penned through his social media handle, the Kehinde Owoeye said; “I want to tell the entire member of Owoeyes’ family to stay calm (though painful) as justice will be served on the killer in due course; be rest assured. I want to thank UK Govt, Detectives Peter, Amy and the hired Private investigators, as well as the Nigeria Embassy in London for their professionalism. To the Onigogo of Igogo-Ekiti and sons and daughters of Igogo, with a lot of our friends especially in the United Kingdom, we say thank you for your efforts so far. To the people that came from far and near to console, we appreciate.

“To my mum, though it’s an irreplaceable loss, please take heart (though not easy), it’s only God that can console you divinely. To the entire Amuludun dynasty, please NO to derogatory post, calm down as we await his trial in the Court of the UK. Thanks for your understanding the children are currently being taken care of by the UK social services.” (The Nation)

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