Before Mpape, there were the Dawodu brothers
By JIDE AJANI,Editor (Northern Operations) and Henry Umoru
TWO days after the Monday, January 31 murder of Mrs. Nonye Doris Okere allegedly by a policeman at Mpape, Abuja, the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Mr. Hafiz Ringim, directed that a criminal suit be instituted against the suspect.
The incident happened when the suspect opened fire on a taxi carrying the woman with a seven-month pregnancy. Time was 7.30am. Confusion set in, the woman died on the spot and the Zenith Bank branch where the policeman had sought refuge was burnt.
The policeman was said to be attached to the bank. Doris was a cashier with Bank PHB in Wuse Zone 1.
However, 17 days after the woman was murdered, the husband, Mr. Eugene Okere, while preparing for the burial which took place yesterday, said the police and government had not responded to his cries of agony.
Okere, who called on the IG to thoroughly investigate the killing of his wife, attacked the police authorities for their uncooperative attitude in the matter.
Met at Area 11, office of the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA), Senator Bala Mohammed, Okere said his wife’s corpse was on Wednesday taken to Ohekelem, in Ngor-Okpala Local Government Area of Imo State, for burial. He added that, shortly after the killing, he went to the Asokoro Hospital Mortuary where the body was deposited and made an entry, even as he said that he made another entry at the FCT Police Command. He lamented that the responses by the FCT Police Command were not encouraging.
Okere said an autopsy was carried out on the corpse at his own expense, but was surprised that the police who did not offer any assistance came to remove the autopsy report.
According to him, “My wife was on her way to work on the day she was killed by a policeman attached to Zenith Bank, Mpape. She was killed in cold blood and now the police are telling me it was accidental discharge. What does that mean?
“No sign of remorse at all from any quarters. Not even the police or the bank (Zenith) has expressed condolence or shown any concern. Rather, the bank has commenced renovation of its building.”
On how life has been since the incident happened, Okere, in tears, noted that life had been unbearable for the family. “Look,” he started, “we were only two years into our marriage. We got married on November 14, 2009.
Our child is only nine months old and still sucking. He sucked even that morning that my wife was killed.
”He is now forced to start taking other foods and cries all night. I do not sleep anymore. My only assistant has been killed by the police.”
Okere, who insisted that his wife should not die for nothing, however, appealed to Nigerians to come to his assistance by persuading the IG to follow the course of justice, adding that, if not addressed, any person can be the next victim of police brutality!
It would be recalled that soon after the incident of January 31, the FCT Police Commissioner, Mr. John Haruna, on a visit to the scene, promised that the officer involved would be investigated and prosecuted accordingly.
The policeman allegedly carried out his action when the driver of a taxi cab with number-plate Niger XA 783 SRP, allegedly refused the order that he should not make a u-turn in front of the Zenith Bank branch in Mpape where he was on duty.
The policeman was said to have confronted the driver and an argument ensued, leading to the officer firing bullets at the vehicle that had Doris and other passengers sitting inside. Three other passengers in the taxi were said to have sustained serious injuries while the woman died instantly.
As Mrs. Okere rests in her grave in the little village of Ohekelem, not a few Nigerians pray God to touch the hearts of the police and government to give the last honour to the late woman by coming up with a thorough investigation in the hope that this will console the family.
Before Mpape, there were the Dawodu brothers
Perhaps, something needed to have been done much earlier.President Goodluck Jonathan feels it much more. That is, the special training he is instituting for members of the Police force in handling the crowd – call it enhanced civility. He should, having experienced what happened in Port Harcourt at his zonal campaign launch where about a dozen people died and many more lost their lives.
On a one-on-one basis, the police need it.
Before the Mpape killing of Doris Okere by a trigger-happy cop, there was the killing of two brothers in the macabre incident that became known as the killing of the Dawodu brothers.
It happened on November 17, 1987, a Tuesday.
Saka and Sule Dawodu were cut down by a trigger-happy cop’s bullets.
The cop, Eze Ibeh, was a 23-year-old!
Because of the public outcry, he was promptly charged to court. So, why is the case of Doris Okere different?
For the killing of the Dawodu brothers, by Friday, November 20, 1987, Ibeh was before Chief Magistrate T. A. Ofosipe and these charges were read to Ibeh:
“That you, PC 144714 Eze Ibeh (23) on November 17, 1987, at about 1:30p.m. at Anikantanmo Street, Lagos, murdered one Saka Dawodu (27) by shooting him with a gun and thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 319 (i) of the Criminal Code Cap 31, Volume 2, Laws of Lagos State.”
The second count read, “That you, PC 144714 Eze Ibeh (23) on November 17, 1987, at about 1:30pm at Anikantanmo Street, Lagos, murdered one Sule Dawodu (27) by shooting him with a gun and thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 319 (i) of the Criminal Code Cap 31, Volume 2, Laws of Lagos State.”
The killing of the Dawodus started on a similar note just as the Mpape killing. A man, Shamisideen Animashaun, attempting to take his pregnant wife to the hospital was challenged by a traffic warden because his Odd number-plate car was not supposed to be on the road that day.
The commotion which occurred between the warden and the man attracted a crowd after the man had been manhandled. Another warden sneaked into the Adeniji-Adele Police Station to report the incident as well as request for police assistance. He returned with three policemen, one of them was Ibeh.
In the commotion that followed, Ibeh apprehended Sule, asking to know where Animashaun was. Sule responded that he did not know. He, too, was manhandled. Saka, who was within shouting distance, rushed to the scene and attempted to protect his brother but what happened, thereafter, became horrifying. Ibeh pumped two bullets into him. And, as Sule protested, Ibeh also pumped another set of bullets into him, too. Ibeh then attempted to do the unthinkable. He pointed the gun at himself and attempted to commit suicide. His colleagues took the gun away.
What happened next far exceeded that type of commotion that was witnessed in Mpape. Seven bodies were recovered after the riots that followed and which engulfed and put a halt to commercial activities on Nnamdi Azikiwe Street, the Idumagbo area of Lagos Island, Docemo, Oroyinyin, Massey, Prince, Enuowa and Balogun streets. All these, in 1987; a very long time ago, before Mpape!