By Gbenga Dan Asabe
In 1979 Alhaji Safiriyu Tiamiyu started what is known today as S.T Soaps Limited with the sum of five thousand naira (N5000), expanding from the corridors of his home to erecting a state of the art factory in Ijebu-Mushin, Ogun State.
Despite his low level of education, S.T understood the importance of advertisements on effective marketing, He invested a huge sum on advertisement. The brand’s Jingle on the then Radio Nigeria and across media houses still evokes nostalgic thoughts.
By the early ’90s, the company expanded from soap making to making polythene products having over a thousand workers, most of which are inhabitants of Ijebu-Mushin.
S.T’s sporadic downfall began in 2004 when his factory workers began to clamour for a staff union, S.T was reportedly dissatisfied with the idea of a staff union within the premises of his business.
He argued that the idea is not appropriate in a sole proprietorship enterprise. The staffs alleged that they were being maltreated by the company’s management, and started a protest by abandoning their tasks. During the protest, one of the staff allegedly damaged a mixing machine.
This infuriated S.T who invited the police to arrest the vandal. On getting to the scene, the police fired intermittently into the air and arrested everybody they found including non-staffs and strangers. One of the villagers (a deaf boy) was said to have been hit by a stray bullet.
The police involvement led to complete pandemonium. The villagers were enraged and vowed to raze the factory if their children were not released from police custody. The old women threatened to protest naked with a left foot sandal and a left earring.
Realising the consequences of his actions, S.T quickly called for the release of the protesters and everyone arrested at the scene. It took the intervention of the police D.P.O to quell the growing disturbance. Both parties (S.T and his staffs) were called to a roundtable and a compromise was reached.
However, on Friday, May 13th, 2005, five police officers from the Elewe-Eran police command, Abeokuta, stormed the factory. and arrested S.T. One of the villagers called Baba Oníkèké, had implicated him in a kidnapping and ritual case.
Baba Onikeke alleged that S.T regularly bought human parts from him. S.T’s home was ransacked but nothing was found. The court case lasted several months but the case was finally dismissed by Justice O.S Moronfolu of the Chief Magistrate court, Ijebu-Ode.
Following these incidents, S.T was unable to regain his feet. He went into depression, and his life never remained the same.
He died on October 5, 2020, after years of battling with an undisclosed illness.
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