Imo State born Stefany was having a cheerful Sunday on March 31, 2019 when her phone rang. The display would show that it was the unlikeliest of callers.
It was a friend of her fiancé – Kolade Johnson–on the other end.
“I was at home and I received a call from his friend who was trying to know if I had heard from him. And I’m like ‘no, we haven’t spoken’”, Stefany tells Pulse in an emotion laden voice. She had been crying for two days when we hit her up.
“The way he sounded—because I don’t really talk to that his friend—I knew something was wrong. Like, we don’t talk regularly. So, for that call to come and the first thing he asked me was ‘have you heard from ‘Kaylo?’, I was like no. I called his niece immediately because this friend hung up and said ‘I will call you back’. So, he hung up”.
A couple of calls later and Stefany would learn that her boyfriend, 36-year-old Johnson of Ogun State descent, had been shot dead by a police officer as he ventured out to catch a Live English Premiership football game, in the Mangoro, Onipetesi suburb of Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial capital.
“So, I called the mum and I spoke to his friends that were right there and they confirmed it that he is dead and they are trying to take him into the morgue”, Stefany says, her words threatening to drown in more tears.
“Nobody could tell me the full story then. They just said it is SARS. I was even thinking, I don’t get. Why would SARS look for Kolade. He doesn’t…when he sees police like this, he would rather make a U-Turn or something. He doesn’t like to get into their trouble…” she adds.
Police brutality once more
SARS is an acronym for the police Special Anti-Robbery Squad.
For years, SARS has become synonymous with extra-judicial killings, human rights abuses, extortion and excessive use of force when dealing with members of the public.
However, the world would later learn that the police unit culpable for the disturbance and shootings in Mangoro on the day, was the lesser known but no less deadly Special Anti-Cultism Squad (SACS).
Stefany says, “So, I came on the internet and I saw the story trending and I was very surprised”. She adds that the bereaved family is inconsolable at the moment.
“No one in the family is finding it easy. No one wants to believe it is true. Especially his mum. His mum hasn’t eaten. As of yesterday, when they broke the news to her in the morning, the only thing she had till I left her in the morning was tea. And even when they induced her to sleep, she refused to. She’s elderly, she’s sickly, because she has high BP. They induced her with sleeping injections but it didn’t even have an effect on her”, Stefany shares further.
Kaylo and who he was
‘Kaylo’ is what Stefany called Kolade Johnson and how she still refers to him. She would never come to terms with the fact that her Kaylo is no more, she says.
“He was my fiancé. We didn’t have a child together but he has a child. We had many plans (including getting married). Many plans.
“Kaylo was a very easy going person. Very friendly. Very, very friendly. Anybody that has met him and spent time with him would tell you that he didn’t like trouble, he didn’t like stress. He was very helpful, very homely. He was just a good person. He was a peace maker who didn’t like to oppress anyone. He didn’t like anyone being oppressed. That’s who Kolade was”.
Kaylo and Stefany were self-employed—eking out a living in Lagos’ arduous and unforgiving streets. They were essentially ‘legitimate, honest hustlers’.
Stefany says: “I am into fashion and entertainment, I do tailoring. I sell accessories and make-up. Kolade didn’t have a stable job per se. He was self-employed as well. He was doing music by the side, he had this Agric business he was trying to run, farm feeds and stuff like that. That’s what he was doing to keep up for the moment…”
And then March 31 happened.
Since Kaylo’s death, Stefany has been clutching a pair of black and red slippers. It was what her fiance wore on the day the stray bullet hit him, cutting short his life and plans with her, in an instant. It’s what she says she’ll always keep with her as a way of helping her deal with the loss of her Kaylo.
“This is all Kolade left me”, she says amid tears. “This is all Kaylo left for me…
The police command has arrested the officers alleged to have taken Kaylo’s life.