By Ebere Aham
Mrs. Comfort Indongesit Udoh looked forward with great expectation to the first birthday of her fourth child, Elijah Udoh. This is because Elijah’s birthday fell on same day with the country’s Independence anniversary, October 1. Infact, preparation towards the ceremony was reportedly first discussed with her husband two months ago where a conclusion was reached to mark it in a low key with families and friends.
The deceased, Mrs Udoh, in the company of her husband , Mr Godwin Sunday Udoh and their four children: Mary (12) , Blessing (9), Abraham (7) and Elijah who was then 11 months old, reportedly left their Idimu abode in a tricycle driven by Mr Udoh, on September 16, 2015.
Destination was the Gospel of Faith Church situated in Ijegun to attend a vigil. Time was 11pm. However , they were accosted by a Police Corporal along Ijegun Road who allegedly demanded for N2000 from the supposed tricycle operator for driving late.
Explanation by Udoh that the people in the tricycle were members of his family and not passengers as claimed by the policeman fell on deaf ears.
At that moment, his wife, Idongesit Comfort, who was carrying their youngest child , Elijah, reportedly alighted from the tricycle and showed the policeman her Bible, with an explanation that she was not a passenger as assumed , but the operator’s wife.
But the Police Corporal, Musefiu Aremu, was said to have insisted on getting his money. Apparently angry at his defiance, Udoh reportedly entered his tricycle, with his wife following behind. But to the shock of all , Corporal Aremu said to have earlier threatened to shoot if Udoh attempted to move the tricycle from the spot, made true his threat as he released two bullets from his AK 47 rifle.
One of the bullets reportedly hit Mrs Udoh , who fell off the tricycle with Elijah on her bosom. The bullet was said to have pierced her skull and hit Udoh in the jaw.
While Udoh lived to tell the tale, that unfortunately was not the case with his wife, as she reportedly died moments before reaching the hospital.
When Vanguard Metro visited their Idimu residence on October 1, everyone at the birthday party wore long faces. Rather than celebrating with little Elijah who was apparently oblivious of the tragedy that had befallen his family, guests were seen consoling his father.
Elijah on his part, only allowed fair-skinned women to carry him. This was because his mother was light-skinned. His siblings were withdrawn , still finding it difficult to shake off the incident from their memory.
We want justice: When approached, nine-
year-old Blessing said: “All we want is justice for my family. I want government to take care of my family. My father is not working anymore since the incident,as he is still undergoing treatment at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital”.
Narrating how her mother was shot, she said amidst tears: “ We were all in the Keke Marwa when we heard the gunshot. Immediately, my mummy fell down; she fell on Elijah. She could not move. Blood was all over her . Elijah was crying from where he was trapped under her. My daddy was shouting: ‘They have killed me ooo’. But no body came to help us. Everybody ran away .
“My elder sister, Mary, was screaming, calling for help. I was the only one that went and held one of the policemen by the trouser. I was shouting at the top of my voice that ‘you people have killed my mummy. Come and take my mummy to the hospital’. Later some policemen came and brought Elijah out of my mummy’s grip. His body was covered with blood.
“My Daddy was taken away while a police woman took us to her house and gave us food and water. She told us to sleep that we would see our mummy and daddy next day. But up till now, we have not seen our mummy”.
Call for huge compensation, speedy trial for perpetrator: Her narration triggered
gusts of emotion as some of them burst into tears. The chair person of Women Arise, a non-governmental organisation, Dr Joe Odumakin, who organised the birthday party for young Elijah, said in an emotion-laden tone : “There is no one that can replace Elijah’s mother but we will do our best to see that justice is done.
The deceased was a mother to four kids. She was a wife. She was deeply committed to family values. She is not here to celebrate her child today but I am sure that she is here in spirit. She was a great woman who clutched her son to her bosom while she was dying.
We are calling on the attention of our Police to know that they are supposed to secure lives and property. The death of Elijah’s mother is grave and nothing can bring her back to life and that is why Women Arise is pleading that they should be our friends. Those who err should be punished. Justice must be done.
The killer of Elijah’s mother has been arrested, tried, arraigned and he is now remanded. On October 19, my team, the victim’s family and well wishers are going to march in black to the Magistrate Court, Ebute Metta to make sure justice is given to the dead 35-year-old Comfort Idongesit Udoh. The last assignment she did was cuddling her baby and urging her other three children to be calm.
There must be a huge compensation for the family even though we know that no amount of money can buy life. She is still in the mortuary and she deserves a befitting burial. We ask for speedy trial for justice to be done. The Inspector-General of Police, IGP has promised that the children would be trained in school by the Force but we want it documented so that when a new IGP comes in, the agreement can still continue.
“Mr Udoh needs to be adequately treated and given a proper business. The Marwa must be replaced too because he got it on hire purchase. We do not want this to happen again. We want a surveillance team that will be monitoring the police.
We are writing and pleading that the government takes care of the family’s accommodation. Also, a trust fund should be set up for the children and there should also be health insurance, especially for Mr Udoh who is still undergoing treatment in Lagos state University Teaching Hospital, LUTH”.
Widower’s lamentation: On his part, 45-year-old Godwin Sunday Udoh who is still recuperating from the bullet that hit his jaw said with tears in his eyes that his wife’s death had created a vacuum in his heart.
According to him: “Today is a special day in the life of my son. My wife said we were going to celebrate him on this day, October 1, but unfortunately she is no more on this earth to celebrate with us. I want the Lagos State governor to know that what happened is very painful to my children and I.
Treatment in hospital
My wife played the role of a mother to me since my biological parents died. I am pleading with Lagos and Akwa-Ibom states government to come and help my family and also ensure that justice prevails. I want them to put my life back in shape. At the moment , I am in pains. I cannot chew with my teeth.
I cannot use my right hand to do anything now. I am still undergoing treatment in the hospital. We need a total package to sustain my family. I cannot even go back to my former business because my right hand is not functioning well again and I need to take care of my family.
My youngest son, Elijah, was ill for a while and was taken to the hospital yesterday ( last Wednesday). He was on exclusive breast feeding before my wife died. My sister has been trying her best but Elijah still feels the absence of his mother. He always cries at night for his mother’s touch.”
He paused at this point, bent his head and burst into tears.