By Dayo Johnson
IT has become usual for policemen to harass commercial motorcycle operators (Okada riders) for Egunje (bribe) not only in Ondo State but also across the country.
The alleged cold murder of two blood brothers who left eight children and their pregnant wives behind in Okitipupa by policemen in the Ondo State was mean.
The deceased brothers, Christopher and Robinson Okawon, however, had, at least, two things in common as they were both commercial motorcycle operators and impregnated their wives at about the same time.
Christopher, a school drop out, was gunned down, while riding Okada, for failing to part with N20 at an illegal check point mounted in front of one of the new generational banks in Okitipupa. The suspected killer cop, Constable Igodih Gbefamoghan, had been posted to the commercial bank but decided to do quick business by arm-twisting the deceased for plying the route to the bank at Kajola Street junction around 9:15 p.m. on that fateful Thursday.
An argument ensued following which the cop allegedly shot the deceased at close range with the bullet penetrating his chest and coming out through his back.
This sparked off violence in the town as youths stormed the streets and mobilised to attack the police station.
The youths were led by the brother of the deceased identified as Robinson. On sighting the mob, another policeman was said to have shot indiscriminately to scare away the riotous youths. A stray bullet hit Robinson and he too died on the spot.
Pandemonium broke out. The youths further mobilised. Policemen in the town disappeared for fear of being lynched.
The intervention of soldiers in Okitipupa saved the incident from degenerating into a bloodbath. But many properties and vehicles were torched by the irate mob. The deceased brothers were said to have hailed from Delta State and had resided in the town from childhood.
Also, the intervention of a traditional ruler, the Jegun of Idepe-Okitipupa, Oba Michael Obatuga, and the council chairman, Wale Ogunmade, calmed frayed nerves and normalcy has since returned to the troubled town. Meanwhile, the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Okitipupa branch, has said that it would ensure that the errant policemen are brought to book.
Also the spokesperson for the deceased family, Mrs Beatrice Ojugo, said the family has put in place arrangements to facilitate their case and unravel the mystery surrounding the death of their kinsmen. Mrs Ojugo was at a loss as to who would take care of Christopher’s and Robinson’s eight children and the pregnant wives they left behind. NBA secretary in Okitipupa, Segun Lema, said the association has no confidence in the police over the matter, pointing out that the suspected killer cops would pay for their action.
According to him, the NBA and other civil society groups would work hand-in-hand to see that the matter is not swept under the carpet. He disclosed that the association had concluded independent investigations into the matter, adding that a copy of their petition would be sent to the Office of the Inspector General of Police IGP, the Director General of the State Security Service, Ondo State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, the state governor, the Presidency and human right groups for appropriate action.
The spokesperson of the family of the deceased brothers, Mrs Ojugo, said the family would unravel the mystery surrounding the death of their kinsmen.
Surrounded by some family members, she lamented that Christopher and Robinson left eight children and pregnant wives behind.
She called on Nigerians to come to the aid of the family and join them in their battle for justice.
The killer cop, Gbefamoghan, has, however, been arraigned before an Akure Chief Magistrate Court headed by Magistrate Johnson Adelegan who ordered him to be remanded in prison custody pending the time the Ministry of Justice would come up with its legal advice .
The charge preferred against him read: “That you F/NO 445942 Pc Igodith Gbefamoghan ‘m’ on the 13th day of October,2011 at about 11:30pm along Broad Street Okitipupa in Okitipupa Magisterial District did kill one Christopher Okawon, a motorcyclist, by shooting him with AK47 service rifle, officially issued to you for bank guard duties and thereby committed an offence contrary to section 316 and punishable under section 319(1) of the Criminal Code cap 30 Vol 11, laws of Ondo State of Nigeria, 1978.” Adelegan fixed hearing of the matter for December 16.
But, in an interview with journalists, Gbefamoghan said he was defending himself from mob attack on the said day and never shot at the deceased.
He pointed out that he acted in self defence when it was obvious the mob was going to attack and disarm him.