Now, I’m ready to die – Grandma
Victor Oloro was hale and hearty last week Friday when he returned home to his Aponmu community, a suburb of Akure, the Ondo State capital, to the warm embrace of his two kids and beautiful wife, after a long day at work.
As usual, his wife Rachael Oloro had prepared dinner for the family but little did they know that death was lurking right inside their apartment.
After their meal, Mr Oloro was first to retire to bed with his two kids—Toluwani and Blessing, while his wife later joined after saying her night prayers. However, no one had an inkling that his mother, Iforiti Oloro, who also lives in the same house, was about to unleash terror on them.
A few minutes past 2am, the house was on fire. A cloud of thick smoke engulfed the apartment. Both kids were unconscious as Mr and Mrs Oloro shouted for help from neighbours.
Bizarre! Victor’s mother – Mama Iforiti, had set the house ablaze. Her grievance was that she was being starved of food and abandoned by her son and daughter-in-law.
While neighbours battled to stop the raging fire, especially from spreading to other houses in the neighbourhood, the family was rescued and rushed to the hospital but both wife and husband died the next day (Saturday) following injuries sustained from the fire.
Daily Trust Saturday visited Aponmu community, on the outskirts of Akure, where the horrific incident occurred. Neighbours and locals were in a pensive mood as some discussed the sad incident.
One of the rescuers and close neighbours to the Oloro family, Mr Micheal Korede, narrated how residents raced down to help when they heard the shout of the deceased from their apartment.
Mr Korede, whose own apartment was a stone throw from the Oloros, told our reporter that he and other neighbours had to break one of the windows in the house to rescue the family from the inferno.
“I was the first person to notice the fire and the shout of the husband (victor). I hurriedly jumped up from my bed and started calling on other neighbours.
“After several attempts, we were able to break the small window in front of the building and first rescued the two children. We later brought out their parents. They were already badly affected by the fire. So, we got a vehicle that midnight and rushed them to the Accident and Emergency unit of the General Hospital Akure.
“But when we got there, the medical doctors and nurses on duty rejected them. They told us they cannot treat them due to the degree of burns, and advised us to take them to the Federal Medical Center (FMC) Owo.
“At Owo, they were quickly attended to but the next day (Saturday), the man and his wife died. The two children are still in the hospital but one of them is in a serious condition and we are praying he survives.”
Aponmu community where the family was set ablaze
Another neighbour, Mrs Bisi Adelabi, said it was from the perpetrator of the crime that they got to know what actually happened.
“Sadly, after we had taken them to the hospital, the old woman started confessing that her daughter-in-law offended her, although people are saying that she is not normal,” she added.
While alleging that the old woman was known for her wickedness in the community, Mrs Adelabi said on several occasions, the septuagenarian had quarrelled with many neighbours who always come to the rescue of her daughter-in-law whenever they had issues.
“She is in her right senses but we all know that she is wicked. Some people here even refer to her as a witch because she quarrels with people virtually every day. Whenever she had issues with her daughter-in-law and people tell her to calm down, she ended up fighting them.
“Last year, she wanted to commit suicide by jumping into a well. We were the ones that rescued her. Then one of her sons came and took her to Akure. By the time she returned, her daughter-in-law had taken over her business, which led to another series of quarrels.”
One of the chiefs in the community, Chief Ologunmeta, described the incident as saddening, noting that community leaders have invited the old woman’s other children for a meeting.
“This house is an old one in the community. It was built by the old woman’s husband, who came from Edo State to dwell here as a farmer. The man is late, so Victor with his wife and children were residing there alongside his mother, who also has a room in the building.
“In the early 70s, we knew the house as ‘Aso rock’ because of how strong it was, being built on the small rock you’re seeing in front. It’s also one of the first buildings in the community where the old woman was selling palm oil, groundnut oil and local gin (ogogoro).
“Then, when you’re going to your farm. You would want to branch to the house and take some local gins. You would see both young and old men sitting on the rock in front of the house gisting and taking local gin. It used to be bubbling here in the past years.
“But we are sad that this happened and we have called for a meeting with her other children who stay outside the community. The discussion of the meeting is what I can’t dish out for now,” he noted.
Expressing regrets, one of the sons of the old woman, who identified himself as Olu, said the family is currently in pain over the tragic incident.
“The family is not happy right now. If we had known, we wouldn’t have allowed Mama to come back to the community. We had once moved her away from here to the town when she attempted suicide late last year. But she complained that she wanted to come back and we allowed her.
“I heard people saying our mother is a witch. She gave birth to us and I know it won’t be her joy to kill her children. Although, she might have some attitude, but should we now wish her dead? We have handed over everything to God because he knows best why this evil has happened,” he said.
A friend of the Oloros, Ms Folasade Ayesoro, described the late Victor as a good Christian who dedicated his life to the work of God.
Ayesoro recalled how he met Mr Oloro and his wife, Rachael, during her visit to Aponmu community for evangelism.
“Victor was a dedicated child of God, a bondservant of Jesus, a lover of God who has given so much of his entire life and time to the spread and growth of the gospel.
“I met him in 2021 when God led me to Aponmu for a crusade. I needed a link to the community and someone who will help facilitate and coordinate things, I was far away in Ibadan, and I could not do all the work alone, especially since the programme was going to hold in Ondo State. I got Victor’s contact and we got talking, I told him about the crusade and a special program for teenage girls sponsored by the charity arm of the ministry (The Deborah Army foundation). From the moment he heard about it, he took it upon himself to ensure the success of the programme from planning to guidance and coordination.
“He took me to pastors in the community to seek their permission to release the youths in church for the two days. He worked tirelessly to make sure everywhere was set from start to finish.
“The surprise did not end there. I sent him some money in preparation for the program, for publicity and other things needed. After the programme he told me the amount of money; the litres of petrol left behind. He also accounted for every kobo which I didn’t even ask for. I was shocked and told him I won’t be needing them. He’s a man of integrity.”
But in an interview with Daily Trust Saturday, the 75-year-old woman, Iforiti Oloro, confessed she burnt her son and his family because they were starving her.
She also lay claims to “rivalry” between her and the daughter-in-law, noting that she took over her business and customers because she sold the same things she sells.
She said she has no regret as she was ready to die because life is not worth living for her.
She said “It was the wife (daughter-in-law) that I wanted to set on fire because she took over my business. I was selling perishable goods and provisions before I left the house but when I came back, she had taken over my business. They also starved me of food.
“If I had known, I would have separated my son and his children and set only the wife on fire. It’s only the wife that I wanted to kill.”
Reacting to the incident in an interview with our reporter, the Ondo State Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Mrs Funmilayo Odunlami-Omisanya, who confirmed the incident, said detectives have begun an investigation into the case.
Mrs Odunlami-Omisanya also added that the case had been transferred to the State Criminal Investigation Department (SCID) in Akure for further investigation.
“We have also moved the old woman away from the house because she too was seriously affected by the fire and we have taken her to the hospital for treatment too.
“Sadly, we lost the husband and his wife but I can confirm to you that their two kids are still alive and also receiving adequate treatment in the hospital,” she added.