When celebrity journalist Gbenga Dan Asabe visited the late Chief M.K.O Abiola’s house last weekend to interview one of his illustrious sons Lekan Abiola, little did he know that he was walking into an experience of misfortune. Gbenga Dan Asabe who writes and works with Business Hallmark newspapers indeed had more than he bargained for.
My Mission at Late M.K.O Abiola’s house last weekend I’ve been a friend of the Abiola family for the past 8 years now. It is a family that I believe has received press sympathy and followership before and after Chief M.K.O departed. What happened on Sunday January 16 was shocking to me. I had gone to the house to interview Alhaji Lekan Abiola, who lost a mother and father to the political struggle. I was priviledged to hear the story of how he had to step down for Chief Segun Osoba’s son in Ogun State and I felt that since I have access to him, I could get his own side of the story. I called him and got the appointment. A humane person, he bought me a Quoran gift from Saudi Arabia sometime ago.
How I stumbled on Doyin Abiola’s daughter’s marriage
On getting to the house that evening, I saw a fleet of cars parked outside. The guards at the gate know me very well and upon enquiries, I was told that Dr. Doyinsola Abiola’s only daughter was having her marriage ceremony. I thought that was unique. In my normal journalistic mood, I was happy to have a story to write. I asked if there was an Ovation Magazine photographer around. I work for Business Hallmark newspaper, but I also do things for Ovation magazine based on the fact that Bashorun Dele Momodu is like a god father to me and a role model. But I was told there was none.
The party itself
I went into the dining area and saw Alhaji Lekan Abiola having his meal and he told me to give him a little time to finish his food. A band was playing though the crowd was a small one. I saw Dr. Doyin Abiola instructing the caterers. You know I’m very familiar with the house, so I went to the passage where I saw Alhaji Beshi who I have interviewed in time past. I have interviewed most of the Abiolas in time past. I asked him how he felt about the wedding and he said that, ‘it is a great one that he wished Chief M.K.O Abiola was alive that it would have been very auspicious.’
We were chatting when the bride Doyin came from another part of the house with her groom. Alhaji Beshi introduced us. ‘So I asked her how she felt about the wedding, she replied asking me arrogantly if I am a pressman. I replied ‘yes.’ Then she said we don’t want any press man here. Come with me. I thought she was taking me to the mother. At that point I thought the worse the mother would say is to tell me to leave the place. But unfortunately, she led me to a gaunt looking lady. After whispering something into the woman’s ears, the bride left. The woman then turned to me in rage and said, ‘you are pressman, how did you get in here!’ I introduced myself as a journalistman with Business Hallmark newspapers and that I freelance for Ovation magazine too. She said f-ck you and your publishers, I am going to mess you up, and I will deal with you.’ So I asked her name and she replied, ‘I’m Iyabo Aboaba and I will deal with you.’
She dragged me outside and beckoned on a guy driving out an SUV to come out of the car and organise that I be dealt with. That one called out two bouncers who forced me down and started hitting me all over. She was there instructing them to beat me severely. I kept on shouting that I’m a friend of the family. But it fell on deaf ears. She told them to collect my ID card. It was when one of the guests was driving out and shouted ‘this is assault, don’t kill him.’ That was when the bouncers commanded me to run, hitting me with a rod. The mark is still there.
Lekan and Jamiu Abiola’s intervention
On gaining freedom, I immediately called Bashorun Dele Momodu who said he was sorry about it and that I should try and forgive them. I called Jamiu who had gone out to work. He was the one who called Lekan to tell him that his guest has been maltreated. He was inside not knowing that I had been bundled out. It was him who now drove to Toyin Street to meet me and made enquiries. I later found out that Iyabo Aboaba is Dr. Doyin Abiola’s sister and General Manager at Muson Centre, Lagos. It was at that point that another of Dr. Doyin Abiola’s sisters, Mrs. Akinyele was sent to come out and see what was going on outside. She told me that it happened because people were worked up. What they should have done was to tell me to leave the compound. She said there was an event where Abah Folawiyo was bounced and they had to go and kneel down and beg her. Alhaji Lekan Abiola then retrieved my ID card. I couldn’t do the interview until the next day.
I have forgiven the veteran journalist, Dr. Doyin Abiola, but I’m just shocked that this kind of thing happened. I have interviewed prominent people across Nigeria, I have interviewed almost everyone in Abacha’s family and no one humiliated me. The first time I interviewed Mrs Abacha, the humble woman actually cooked for us. It took only 15 minutes wait for President Kuffour to see me for an interview in Ghana. As for Iyabo Aboaba of Muson Centre, my lawyers have already taken the matter up.