Deaths of Nigeria’s golden generation of footballers have rocked the country in recent times but one death that has left controversy behind it is that of ex-Super Eagles striker Rashidi Yekini. Yekini’s lawyer, Jibril Olanrewaju, believes Yekini’s family had a hand in his death, after they forcefully abducted him in Ibadan few weeks before his death.
“I feel strongly so and nobody can change my opinion except God or there is an inquisition to his death and there’s something contrary to what I have. I will forever remain resolute in my conclusion. He (Yekini) told me in confidence that if they (family) succeeded in taking him away, that would be his end, and that’s exactly what happened,” Olanrewaju told Punch Newspaper.
“I begged them to tell me where he was taken to so that these (Yekini’s) kids, who have been asking me, would know what happened to their dad. I didn’t get any clue until Rufiat (Yekini’s sister), who was among those that took him away, came about three months before she died. She apologised and said he was taken to some marabou; he was chained, he had his hair shaved and he was begging them to allow him have access to me, so that I could know what was going on.
“On the 4th (of May 2012) she said he was given a cup of tea and after taking two sips, he went to sleep. About 10 minutes later, he woke up violently and was gasping for breath. Eventually he was vomiting blood, they did everything to save him but when they couldn’t, they took him to Apete clinic. That was the only clue I had on how he died.”
But Yekin’s younger brother, Akeem, who lives with his mother in Ijagbo, Oyun Local Government Area of Kwara State, said the family was only trying to help Yekini before he gave up the ghost.
“Yekini’s wife in Osogbo told us that he was burning things inside his house in Ibadan. So, Mama went to see him but Yekini said he was fine. We were afraid that he might burn himself. So, Mama took him to an Alfa for treatment. It was from there he was rushed to the hospital, where he died,” the 30-year-old Akeem said.
Olanrewaju said Yekini had two property, one in Oni and Sons area of Ibadan, which comprises of twin five-room duplexes and a boys quarter of two rooms and two garages.
The other one, which he bought in 1994, is in Ijagbo, where the mother stays. It’s a two-storied building of four flats of three bedrooms each. There is also a boys quarter and a mosque he constructed for traders in that vicinity.
But the lawyer said the family is making it difficult for the late footballer’s kids to take possession of the property.
“Mama will attest to it that Yekini always said all his property will go to his children but we are finding it difficult because he didn’t write a will. Even at that, legally, since he has children, they naturally should take the property,” Olanrewaju added.
But Akeem said the family had never had anything to do with the property in Ibadan. Instead, he accused Olanrewaju and one of the wives of the late footballer of plotting to sell the property.
Akeem stated, “We never wanted to sell the house. Before my brother died, he said the house in Ibadan was for his children while the house at Ijagbo was for our mother. When we saw that nobody was living in our brother’s house in Ibadan, we decided that it should be repaired and rented out so that the children could make use of the money.
“It was the wife in London and the lawyer who wanted to sell the house but they were restrained by people, who told them to rent it out instead.”
Another controversy plaguing the former Africa Sports striker’s family is the number of children he left behind. While the lawyer says Yekini has two daughters, Yemisi and Omoyemi, the family insists its three.
Punch Newspaper learnt that Yekini had an affair with a Togolese lady, who gave birth to a girl, Suliat, about 11 years ago. However, Yekini denied the paternity of the baby but the family kept it. Suliat is staying with her mother in Ibadan.
Olanrewaju said, “When I confronted Yekini, he told me that he actually had a relationship with the lady but he said, ‘that was over a year ago and how could the lady come and say she is six months pregnant after leaving her for over a year?’
“On the eighth day of Fidau prayers for Yekini, the lady came with a little kid, a girl, and was trying to force the baby on me, that I should take it as it is. And I said if Yekini denied the paternity of the baby, it would be foolhardy of me to just take it like that. I advised them that they should go for a DNA test; that if it is positive, I would be legally harmless to do anything. So, for now, as far as I know, Yemisi and Omoyemi are the two children Yekini gave to me.”
But Akeem said, “Yekini admitted that he slept with the woman but denied that he is not the father of the child. The girl however looks like Yekini. The woman had a misunderstanding with him, so she came to stay with my mother, where she gave birth to the child. It’s my mother that is sponsoring the girl right now.”
Recent reports say Yekini’s mother, Sikiratu, is living in poverty and barely surviving with her bread business.
Even though the lawyer insists that the woman is not suffering, since she is in charge of collecting rent of the house, it was evident that she was passing through hard times.
When PUNCH Newspaper correspondents visited her house at Ijagbo, the building was in state of decay. Even though it was swept clean, the paintings as well as the worn out roofing sheets and dilapidated balconies and walls were begging for renewal.
“I spoke with Mama consistently up till February last year and she was accusing me and raining curses on me that each time she solicits for funds from the public, I used to block her and tell the world that she had enough to take care of herself.
“The rent (of the Ijagbo house) accrues to the mother and I don’t think anybody has taken a dime from it; even Yekini didn’t when he was alive,” Olanrewaju added.
However, Akeem said money from the rent was barely enough to take care of the old woman. He also accused the lawyer of collecting money meant for the family of Yekini.
“The house here has four flats and a boy’s quarters but it’s not as expensive as what you have in Lagos. We use the two flats up. My mother is the one who repairs the house and pays the bills,” Akeem said.
He added, “Since our brother died, the lawyer collects anything that is given to the family; they don’t give Mama anything. This year, someone came to give Mama N100,000 to do her business but the promise from the Kwara State Government to Mama has not been fulfilled. The governor said they will give the family N2.5m but we haven’t seen anything since then. Mama needs help, she is in a helpless condition.”
Meanwhile, the eighty-year-old Alhaja Sikiratu Yekini, mother of late Super Eagles striker, Rashidi Yekini, has now cleared the air on life after her son’s death, in an interview with Punch.
How has life been with you since your son, Rashidi, died four years ago?
I have been managing. It has not been easy at all. Since he died, I have not had substantial support. I have been surviving on the rent I collect from the house Rashidi built for me as well as the proceeds from my petty trade. As you can see here, I sell bread, biscuits and some other household cooking materials. I use the rent to do some little repairs on the house and also to find at least a meal a day or more depending on what the day brings.
How much do you collect from this house as rent per annum?
We have five flats in this house. I use one flat, my surviving son, Akeem, and his family use one flat while I rented out the remaining three flats. This is almost a remote area. It is not like Abuja, Lagos or even Ilorin where you can collect substantial amount for rent. The tenants were paying N30,000 per annum but I just increased it to N45,000 per annum this year. That means that prior to this year, I was collecting only N90,000 per annum from the three flats.
But Yekini’s lawyer said you collect about N500,000 from rent yearly…
The lawyer is not being truthful. He is maligning me, and stopping people from assisting me through his statements. Since my son died, if people have given money to the lawyer for me, he has not given me. It is only now, due to media publicity, that people started helping me.
What other thing did Yekini do for you when he was alive?
He bought this two-storied building for me. He also built a house in our hometown, Iraa, in Kwara State. He had the habit of going to Iraa and giving everybody there some money. But since he died, there is no hope. He was the only person in the family that was wealthy. I cannot forget my son.
Has there been support from the government and the Nigerian Football Federation to you or the family?
During Rashidi’s one year memorial anniversary, Osun and Oyo states’ governments gave money to his wives and children. Osun State gave his wives N2m and Oyo gave N2m as well. The Kwara State Government made a promise but it has not been fulfilled. Some people recently started helping me. There is a group from Abuja that opened a bank account for me. Some money has been paid in for me. Also, Yinka Ayefele recently sent a delegation to me. He read about my ordeal in the papers and he was touched and sent people to ask me what my needs were. I told them. Also, Chief Donatus Agu-Ejidike was touched after learning of my story. He came here and gave me N100,000. Some weeks ago, the wife of the Kwara State Governor, Mrs. Omolewa Ahmed, sent a delegation and they gave me clothes, food, beverages and some cash. I am grateful to them. May God reward them but I still need more.
Are you saying the NFF has not assisted you or the family since Yekini died?
They have not done anything. If government or people have been giving Yekini’s lawyer (Jibril Olanrewaju) in Ibadan, things to give me, he has not been sending them to me. I am not aware that NFF has given any money to the family since my son died.
Is it poverty that made you to start selling bread?
Poverty is one of the reasons. I want to make money. I may buy bread at N300; when I sell at N350, I make N50 profit, which I use to survive. I do not want to stay idle. I am selling bread to make money, so that I won’t die early.
How long have you been selling bread and other petty items?
Since my son died in 2012, there was nothing else for me to survive on, so I started selling bread. I was not selling bread when Rashidi was alive; I started this business because of hardship.
What do you want the government, NFF, corporate organisations, groups and individuals to do for you?
If they can assist me with money, I will appreciate it. I plead with President Muhammadu Buhari, the NFF, state governments and everyone to assist me. They should remember that my son made Nigeria proud. They should not abandon me now that he is no more and I am now an old woman. When my son was alive, he was always there for me. If Nigeria helps me, God will bless the country more.
How often do you go to hospital for checkup and treatment?
When my son was alive, he had a doctor that used to come to the house and treat me but after his death, there was none. However, people from Offa came in April. They gave me a doctor who has been treating and checking me monthly. They are responsible for the medical bills.
How are Yekini’s children and family faring?
My son married two wives; one is Mariama and the other is Adeola. They gave birth each to a girl. The first wife gave birth to her daughter in London. The name of the girl is Yemi (Yemisi). The other daughter, Bidemi (Omoyemi), from the second wife, is schooling at the University of Ilorin. The last time when we did the memorial of my son, we requested that the children should be given scholarships. I pray the government does that for them.
Why are you staying at Ijagbo and not Iraa, Yekini’s hometown?
I gave birth to my children in Kaduna. When I was at Iraa, I had family problems; family members used to disturb me. That is why I told Rashidi to provide a house for me at Offa or Ijagbo, so that the family will leave me to enjoy my life. If I had not been staying at Ijagbo, I would have died a long time ago. That is why my son built this house for me here in Ijagbo.