BRIGADIER-GENERAL Larinde Laoye served the country gallantly in different capacities in the course of his career as a military man before he retired voluntarily in 2003.
However, one aspect which touched him so greatly during his service was when he appeared before the Justice Chukwudifu Oputa Panel of Human Rights Violation Investigation Commission (HRVIC) after the late Dr Olu Onagoruwa alleged that his car was used by those who killed his son, Toyin.
For 20 years, Brigadier-General Laoye couldn’t find the strength to document some of the events at this period of his life until the COVID-19 lockdown came in 2020, and the result of that effort is the book, Victory in Defeats: The Manifestation of God’s Power.
In the book’s preface, Brigadier-General Laoye writes: “The choice of the title of the book came during one of the series of my Bible studies and meditation as I found this in Prophet Micha’s submission in Micah 7 verse 8 that says ‘God has a way of working victory in reverses.’
“I studied this in line with the revelation I got and decided to title the book, ‘Victory in Defeats. I thought and still believe that all that had happened to me in the past years that looked like disappointments are simply defeats in my efforts. But the same unchanging God remained my Helper over these defeats.”
In his Foreword to the book, a retired professor of Political Science, Osisioma Nwolise, writes “The book can be regarded as a position response to the General’s challenge. This book, therefore, is about the allegations openly levelled against him, to the effect that his car was used in the crime of murdering Toyin, the son of Dr Olu Onagoruwa, on December 18, 1996.
“Brigadier-General Laoye has with all energy and authority of honesty in him asserted that the accusation is false, and as such, needs to clear his name. He said this clearly and openly at the Oputa Panel. He has waited for several years in vain for government to publish the Oputa Panel’s report.”
Brigadier-General Laoye opens the book with, “our troubles have always brought us blessings, and they always will. They are the dark chariots of bright grave.”
He further writes, “Many of the people we admire in the scriptures were badly treated. But God permitted it to happen.”
The retired General admits that “The fallout of the Human Rights Violation Investigation Commission, otherwise known as Oputa Panel, as it concerns me, has left a big scar in my heart — the painful feelings of that scar, may forever remain too large to ignore till I breathe the last in the land of the living if I fail to correct the impression of getting a redress to own’s misfortune by maligning and cooking stories up for the public even if these stories are disjointed.”
He, however, says that this book, after his first book, The Unwrecked Spirit: Memoirs of a Retired One-Star General, follows “Professor Bayo Adekanya’s challenge on the effects of my misfortune, which led to my appearance at the Oputa Panel, but also recounts what my close and distant family members, friends, compassionate colleagues went through simply because of this.”
This 10-chapter book, therefore, documents Brigadier-General Laoye’s years as a boy soldier in January 1965 till when he voluntarily retired in 2003, as well as the challenges he faced since his retirement till date.
A chapter in the book is dedicated to newspaper reports of Dr Onagoruwa’s press releases and interviews, and his submission to the Oputa Panel.
Brigadier-General Laoye published relevant documents to address the accusation by the late Dr Onagoruwa, just as he also published progress reports by police investigation team on the case.
He also documents how he was ordained as a reverend of the Nigerian Baptist Convention.
However, while Dr Onagoruwa kept granting interviews, alleging that Brigadier-General Laoye’s car was used by those who killed his son, the military officer could not just call a press conference to debunk the claims.
He, however, resorted to writing the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) where he detailed how his Peugeout 505 SR car was stolen from his officials quarters at Lower Myoung Barracks, Yaba, Lagos on December 26, 1996, while he was holidaying with his family in Ibadan; how he reported the theft of the car at Alade police station in Somolu, Lagos, on December 27, 1996; explained all his efforts to search for the stolen 505 SR car by travelling to Imeko, Badagry and Idi-Iroko on December 28 and 29, 1996; his decision to buy a white Tokunbo Mercedes Benz car parked in front of a neighbour’s quarters in Lower Myoung Barracks on December 30, 1996, with the details of the importation of the car showing that the Mercedes Benz was clared from the Lagos Port Tin Can Island on December 29, 1996, and details of payment for the car at Wema Bank, Lapai House, on January 2, 1997.
Also included were the report to Panti and CID Police headquarters a statement of his request to the DPO of Alade police station to authorise the use of one of his car’s number plate for his security and safety as he would be travelling to Abuja on January 5, 1997.
He says despite all these information, Dr Onagoruwa kept mentioning his name as the owner of the car that was used to kill his son, when in fact, Toyin was murdered on December 18, 1996, he paid for the car on January 2, 1997.
Then on August 6, 1998, in line with military procedure, “I had to officially write a letter through my immediate boss, the Commandant, Nigerian Army Ordinance Corps (NAOC) to the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), to enable me to take appropriate legal action to stop Dr Onagoruwa’s continuous maligning of my name.
“Eventually, a response to my letter to the Chief of Army Staff came vide NA/412/A dated August 14, 1998. When I received the letter, as well as the progress report of the police investigation that came to me later, I resolved that suing Dr Onagoruwa for libel as a devout Christian was not the solution. He may think I wanted to use the court to block investigations and justice.
“The solution, to me, was allowing the police complete their investigation, believing that the complainant, Dr Onagoruwa, would conscientiously reason out the truth soonest.
“Second, I believed that by keeping the records of all that was happening, as well as for Dr Onagoruwa’s cooperation with the police towards revealing all that needed to be revealed could lead to the arrest of all persons involved remotely or indirectly with the murder.
“Note that Dr Olu Onagoruwa mentioned several other names to the police investigating team as suspects, but he failed at all times to mention these names in his several press interviews or releases with the print media except that of Colonel Laoye.
“Yet, all he needed to know concerning Colonel Laoye’s Mercedes Benz car had been made known to him by the police, but all that could not stop him from parading my name in connection with the murder case. Why did he refuse to name the suspects to the press? Was it fear, cowardice/ We may never know.”
In the end, Brigadier-General Laoye, now an ordained reverend, says “This book is just too little to let the world know the proving truth from my own side of Dr Olu Onagoruwa’s allegations because the circulation of this book is so limited, compared with the circulation of any of the nation’s newsprints. Well, the Lord has continued to sustain and keep me above the human imagination represented throughout the years 1997 to 1999.
“I have for these periods been pressed and oppressed, yet I have lived because I do all the times feel the presence of the Great Shepherd, the Omnipresent, and the Omniscient.”
Just recently, Reverend (Brigadier-General) Laoye presented the book to the public at the Nigerian Army Officers’ Mess, Ibadan, and the event was graced by family members, church members, traditional rulers, as well as serving and retired military officers, with all of them testifying to the honesty and humility of the author.
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