BY GAB EJUWA
A year after Chief Ogbe Onokpite was gruesomely murdered by some unidentified police officers, the dust generated by his killing is yet to settle. The 38-year-old politician who identified with his native Okpe, Uvwie people was shot dead at Beeland Hotel, Orhuwhoran in Udu local government area of Delta State.
Since the politician was killed in a questionable circumstance, a plethora of criticisms have continued to trail his sudden and unpleasant demise. Despite series of petitions by the family and other human right groups to unravel the main cause of his death, investigations so far appeared to be shrouded in mystery. For this singular reason, the deceased family insisted that until his killers are brought to book, his remains would not be interred.
After Onokpite was murdered, a petiition was sent to the police IG and the DIG in charge of homicide division. Consequently, a team of officers was raised headed by one Adamu Hassani. Unargueably, a considerable success was achieved in their investigations.
But the Hassani’s team later hit a brick wall as they were unable to retrieve the file containing the matter of Chief Onokpite’s death from one Dalan Dache, and his gang who were initially assigned to investigate the case, and who, ironically in their investigations, hurriedly concluded that the late politicians was a gun-runner and was killed in a crossfire with men of the Nigerian police.
As the effort to unravel the killers continued, fresh allegations emerged that the police officers fingered as the killers were allegedly mobilised by some powerful forces in the state to eliminate the youngest governorship aspirant in the immediate past governorship election in the state. A source alleged that the real killer squad in Delta State was led by an ASP.
Following this allegation, officers of the alleged Delta killer squad were summoned to Abuja for investigation. In the process, the team allegedly pleaded guilty as charged as one of them alleged that the leader of their police team ordered him to kill Onokpite.
This confession has created more questions begging for answers since they failed to establish that Chief Onokpite was killed in a crossfire.But the said officer allegedly admitted that he shot the politician below the knee and eventually killed him at the Beeland Hotel, Orhuwhorun road in Ovwian, Delta State.
The officer also allegedly admitted that he drove the Pathfinder jeep that led the two Hilux vans to the Beeland Hotel where Onokpite was caught. This report was in tandem with the statement of oath from the prime witness, Gbenga Onasiji who dismissed the allegation that Onokpite was a gun-runner but agreed that he was the driver assigned to convey Onokpite to collect some amount of money from the nearest ATM before his killers descended on him.
The driver has however identified the police officer who shot him below the knee, and also the man who blindfolded and used sharp dagger on him.
Again, a fresh twist was added to the matter when an arrested suspect, Malik Okorokporo denied earlier confession that he was instructed by the deceased to deliver two AK 47 rifles found on him to one Mr Collins Egbara.The mysterious circumstances have all combined to cast doubt on the justice system in the land.
Delta State Police Commissioner, Mr Mamman Tsafe, now the Assistant Inspector General (AIG) of Police Zone 2 at a press conference shortly after the dastardly incident had posited that the slain politician was gunned down while attempting to escape from the grip of the police, and that he died on the way to the hospital.
It was reported then that “at about 2.00pm on November 26, 2011, undercover operatives at Beeland Hotel, Orhunwhoro intercepted a vehicle with registration no AM 528 JRT driven by one Malik Okorokporo, 33, of 31 Abasiomo Druona compound, Alegbo, Warri.
The driver, it was also alleged, was stopped by the police patrol team at Udu, Orhunwhoro road and to their chagrin, two AK-47 rifles with Nos. 20613 and 13702, with over 60 rounds of live ammunition were found in his possession. These rifles were to be delivered to one Collins Egbara, Chairman of Agaga community who was currently on the run .
“The suspect, however, took the patrol team to Beeland Hotel to apprehend his principal, who attempted to escape upon sighting the police but was maimed. The principal eventually died on the way to the hospital,” the commissioner stated.
Amidst several conflicting reports, the younger brother to the late Chief Onokpite, Diemo disclosed that the family’s investigations showed that the slain politician was killed unjustly by some unknown persons.
Diemo who disclosed that members of the family have finalised plans to bring the killers to book, said that until justice takes its full course, the remains of his elder brother which is still at the morgue will not be buried.
The brother stated that at the appropriate time, the family will tender a lot of evidence at their disposal to prove their case beyond reasonable doubt that their brother was a victim of chain killers masquarading as politicians in the state.
Also, counsel to the slain politician’s family, Mr Odiana Eriata said that revelations from police investigation so far showed that the killer gang of Chief Onokpite still exists in the state.
The lawyer who alleged that there had been several attempts to sweep the matter under the carpet, disclosed that their efforts had culminated to the serial murder of two other persons, British Egene and Orlando Owodo on July 17, 2012. Eriata, however, enjoined the IGP to investigate the role of a particular Assistant Suprentendent of Police (ASP), names withheld, in the murder saga. The family lawyer also alleged that there were two persons suspected to have set up the late Onokpite and also averred that the car in which guns were planted against Onokpite belongs to one of them.
The lawyer disclosed that the two persons who set up the deceased were murdered in Bayelsa before fresh facts began to emerge on the killers of Chief Onokpite, particularly when one of the eye witnesses identified eight of the 11 policemen involved in the dastardly incident in Abuja.