By Simon Ebegbulem,Benin-City
…’My other child watched in horror as they executed his brother’
Francisca Nkemcho, a widow from Ota Orhionmwon local government council of Edo State, is not a happy woman. Reason: The alleged extra-judicial killing of her 25-year- old son, Chukwudimedi Nkemcho, by some soldiers in Agbor, Delta State, penultimate Wednesday. The deceased was said to have been paraded as an armed robber by the soldiers and shot dead hours later. The body was taken to the police station in Agbor but, when the family rushed to identify the corpse, they were told it had been buried in an unknown grave.
Madam Francisca, who spoke to Sunday Vanguard on her sick bed, insisted that her son was never a criminal or a cultist. She cried for justice, saying that as a widow and sick, she had not been able to petition relevant agencies on the issue. The widow, from Ogwashu Uku in Delta State but married to an Edo man who died in 2007, said it would be unfair if she was not able to get justice.
This is the second time allegations of extra-judicial killing are being levelled against security agents in the South-south. Mid last month, a DPO in Edo State was accused of killing an innocent student of University of Benin. The case is under investigation by the police. The widow in the latest incident narrated her story to Sunday Vanguard.
“The incident happened on Wednesday, 8 of May, 2013 in Agbor. My son went out between 2pm and 3pm. Before that day, he had not been able to leave the house because he was ill. I still have the drugs he was taking with me. So I was happy that he was able to go out that day. He did not come back at about 6pm and we called his number but it was switched off”, the bereaved mother said.
She continued: “So I called his siblings and told them to go and search for him. But they all assumed that he might be charging his phone somewhere. When at about 9pm he was still not back, I went to bed because I was not feeling fine. Early the following day, I sent people out to look for him. I was really down so I could not go with them. So my other son and others took Okada to look for him. But on getting close to the army base in Agbor, my son said he noticed people running towards the place and he tried to find out what was happening. Somebody now told him that soldiers were parating some armed robbers.
“He rushed to the place but the crowd was too much and because of the crowd he could not get closer. But from where he was, he was able to see his brother and two others whom they said were armed robbers. But the soldiers later asked one of them to leave, my son and one other boy remained. “To the surprise of my son and others who were there, they said the soldiers ordered my son and the other boy to run and they were shot from the back in the presence of the crowd. My son said he wanted to shout but because of fear that he may also be arrested, he ran away and went somewhere to call us.
“He could not even speak on phone, so he decided to take Okada to run back home. Some persons who were there saw my son; so they started calling us. They took the pictures and sent to us. We were told that after they shot them, they took the bodies to the police station. At about 5pm, we went there but could not find the bodies. The soldiers said they were criminals while the police branded them unknown cultists. My son is not a robber or a cultist; we have been managing together since the death of his father and he never stole. He was my first son out of the four children I have”.
While demanding for justice, Mrs Nkemcho stated: “They have no right to murder my son like that. All the allegations were untrue. Let the public know that my son was murdered by the soldiers innocently. I am even afraid to come out because I don’t know if it is a plot to wipe out my family. My son was ill and for two days he never went out until that day. He graduated from a computer school and our prayer was that when we had money he would attend a higher institution. After the death of his father, I enrolled him in the computer school. And since he completed the computer programme, he had been going out to work as a bricklayer, assisting builders. He was a very obedient son and was never a thief or a cultist. I am appealing to Nigerians to help me demand for justice.
The soldiers cannot kill my son and go scot free because we are poor. His spirit will haunt them and God Almighty will never forgive them. Look at me, a widow, how do I fight this cause? People should help me. After killing my son, the police went to bury him in an unknown grave, they did not even give us the opportunity to see him for the last time before they buried him. This is injustice, this is wicked. I am appealing to Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan, the governor of Delta State, to help me ask the soldiers what happened to my son. The IG of Police, President Jonathan, please give me justice”.
When contacted, the DPO at Agbor police declined to comment but a top police officer there explained: “The police have no hand in the killing. What happened was that some soldiers brought two corpses to the station and asked that we should bury them but the DPO insisted that he must know the cause of death. The soldiers said they were killed during exchange of fire with robbers and that they were found with an AK 47 rifle”. The DPO was said to have asked the soldiers to produce the gun before accepting the corpses, but they declined, saying `Soldiers don’t surrender guns to the police; that the gun was in their custody”.
The police officer further told Sunday Vanguard: “It was after the argument that the DPO now said they must give him a report on the cause of death, so the officer that led the soldiers wrote a short report and they left. So people should not drag the police into this. Only the asoldiers what happened”. Meanwhile a lawyer, R.O Okpiavbe Esq., on behalf of the family. In a petition to the Inspector General of Police, the family accused the army of extra judicial murder and called for thorough investigation.