By Gab Ejuwa
Helen Onokpite, wife of the murdered Citizens Peoples Party (CPP) gubernatorial candidate in Delta State in 2011 election will not forget Saturday 26th November, 2011 easily. It was the day Chief Ogbe Onokpite was brutally murdered at Beeland International Hotel, along Orhuwhorun Road in Udu Local Government Area of Delta state by police men over unproven allegations of gun running, kidnapping and armed robbery. He was buried on Saturday 28th December, 2013 at his home town, Ugolo-Okpe community in Okpe Local Government Area of the state after two years of legal tussle between the family and the Nigerian Police which resulted in several rounds of autopsy on the corpse.
When the corpse of the late politician and activist arrived Ugolo-Okpe at about 1:25pm in an Ebony casket and ambulance from the University of Benin Teaching Hospital UBTH, Benin City, Edo state, tears started flowing from sympathizers who rained curses on those that killed him. He was finally laid to rest at about 3:05pm.
The officiating Minister, Apostle Love Ededuwa in his message taken from the book of 1Corinthians 15:12-26 advised sympathizers to always speak the truth, as it is the only thing that would save them on the last day. According to him, “it was the truth and outright refusal of oppression that led to the death of Chief Ogbe Onokpite. It is better to die a hero of truth than to die a deceiver and corrupt person. Many gathered here because Chief Ogbe helped them in one way or the other”.
Late Onokpite’s wife, Mrs. Helen Alawuru-Onokpite, in her tribute said, “the man I got married to, Chief Ogbe Onokpite is a man of peace, an activist and a God-fearing person. He was a loving and caring husband and a father to our daughter, Giggo who the enemies of good governance in Delta State did not allow to play a father role in her life, as he did in the lives of many down-trodden people of Delta State.”
Asked how she intends to fill the yawning gap he left behind, she replied, “ I’m determined to continue where he stopped. I’ll do everything and anything to project those values he stood and died for. I’m ready to tune in with everything he believed in. This was a man who championed the cause of his people and put smiles on the faces of the poor.
This was somebody who used his NGO, the Ogbe Onokpite Foundation to give scholarships and empower the youths so that they might shun criminal tendencies and actualize themselves legitimately. But thank God for the gift of life which no man has the right to take, I seek justice for my husband’s death. He was brutalized and killed by police men.
This was not the dream of our fathers when the Police Force was created. They were not intended to be used as assassins. This is one of the reasons why state police cannot stand in Nigeria.We will all be at the mercy of the government authority and police brutality. I wish to use this medium to appeal to President Goodluck Jonathan, Her Excellency, Dame Patience Jonathan, the Senate President, Chairman, Human Rights Commission; the National Assembly, the Inspector General of Police and all human rights groups to help bring my husband’s killers to justice. I have been turned to a widow at an early age; left to look after a baby of three years on my hands but God has been good to us. God will bless everyone involved in the
struggle to get justice for the murder of my loving and caring husband.
“The quest for justice continues. The Lord is our strength and I want to use this opportunity to commend the media especially Vanguard for their support”.
In his brief statement, one the solicitors in the legal battle, Odiana Eriata Esq of Eriata and Partners, based in Lagos, said that “there is a strong conviction that late Chief Ogbe Onokpite had no primary issues with any law enforcement agent because before he contested the governorship election on the platform of Citizens Peoples Party CPP, requirements of the law as to his eligibility were determined by the appropriate authorities saddled with the obligation of screening, as to whether or not, he was an eligible aspirant, qualified to contest an election as CPP governorship candidate.
“Late Chief Ogbe Onokpite was killed, Saturday, the 26th day of November, 2011. He was besieged, captured and shot in both legs at Beeland Hotel, Orhuwhorun road, Udu Local Government Area of Delta state, and taken to Warri Police Area Command, where he was humiliated and summarily executed unlawfully, between 2:00pm and 3:00pm under the supervision of Assistant Commissioner of police, Mr. Abutu Yaro.
“On Sunday 27th November, 2011, at about 7:30am, Mr. Mammer Tsafe, former Commissioner of Police, Delta state (now promoted AIG in charge of Zone 2, Onikan-Lagos) came to Warri and addressed a press conference and alleged that a petty criminal, a gun runner and an armed robber was killed by policemen in a gun battle with the police.
To give effect to his assertions, he paraded one Mr. Maliki Okporokoro with two AK47 assault riffles and with 60 rounds of live ammunition. The police story was that Mr. Maliki was accosted at a police check-point in a Honda car with registration number AM 528 JRT belonging to Chief Ogbe Onokpite, transporting two AK47 assault riffles and 60 rounds of live ammunition.
The police further stated that Mr. Okporokoro confessed to the alleged crime that he was sent by Chief Onokpite to deliver the arms and ammunition to one Mr. Collins Agbara, who resides at Agaga community in Uvwie LGA. The police further stated that Mr. Okporokoro was asked by the police team led by ASP Umara T. Ibrahim to direct the police to where Chief Ogbe Onokpite was staying (Beeland Hotels)”.
According to him, “the police alleged that on their arrival at the Beeland Hotels, Mr. Malik Okporokoro pointed at Chief Ogbe Onokpite and that in the attempt by the police to arrest Chief Ogbe Onokpite, he fired at the police with a cut to size locally made gun. The police said that in fear of imminent danger and in self defence, the police fired at Chief Ogbe Onokpite to disarm him and the police were taking him to Warri General Hospital when he died on the way.
Other suspects arrested along with Chief Ogbe Onokpite on that fateful day were Mr. Gbenga Onasuji, a Warri based Magistrate driver and Mr. Malik Okporokoro. The lawyer said their independent investigation with facts deposed to by two witnesses (Gbenga Onasuji and Prince Godwin Dumuje) raised reasonable suspicion that some politicians procured some men of the Delta state police command to commit the dastardly act.
He noted that the police made serious attempt to frustrate every investigative effort into the killing of Chief Ogbe Onokpite by setting up a charade investigative team made up of the killers Chief Ogbe Onokpite. It was IGP Abubakar Mohammed who authorized a genuine investigation and a serious follow up by Eriata and Partners later yielded a good result”, he said.