BY GAB EJUWA
When recently Helen Onokpite, wife of the dead Chief Ogbe Onokpite-the gubernatorial candidate of the Citizens Popular Party (CPP) in the last gubernatorial election in Delta State – gave birth to twins in Canada, her joy would have known no bounds.
She would have envisioned Onokpite’s happiness, her husband and that of the entire family of the Onokpites. She would also have made some plans on how to raise the children together with her loving husband.
However, all those dreams are up in flames now as the loving husband of her youth has been forever silenced by the cold hands of death which took the form of some Delta State policemen gone gaga with their guns. These trigger-happy officers dutifully shot the businessman turned politician in the leg in broad daylight in the premises of Beeland Hotel, Orhuwhorun Road, Ovwian-Effurun, according to family sources.
The late Chief’s lawyer, Festus Keyamo, who petitioned President Goodluck Jonathan and the National Human Rights Commission and others, said Chief Ogbe Onokpite, 38, candidate on Citizens Popular Party (CPP) in the April 26 General Elections in Delta State was lodging in a hotel called Beeland Hotel, situated at Orhuwhorun in Udu LGA, Delta State when men of the Nigeria Police attached to the Police Area Command, Warri (in the company of other plainclothed unidentified persons) stormed the hotel to arrest him.
On arrival at the said hotel, the police ordered the receptionist on duty at the hotel to show them the room where Onokpite was lodging, which the receptionist did and the policemen immediately arrested him, brought him out and shot in the leg.
He was then carried out of the hotel premises (still alive) in a vehicle, bearing the inscription of the Nigeria Police Area Command, Warri, to the Police Station at Warri where he was again shot in other more delicate parts of his body and left to bleed to death.
Consequently, the Onokpite family is urgently requesting for a coroner’s inquest to be made in order to obtain the autopsy report and a full criminal investigation report of the murder of an innocent citizen. Of course, many Nigerians are shocked again to the marrow at the growing incidence of insecurity in the country and especially at the rising casualty figure of police brutality and indeed extra-judicial killing in the country.
A human rights activist, Barr Oghenejabor Ikimi, who heads Forum for Justice and Human Rights Defence, in a press release condemned unambiguously the dastardly murder of Onokpite by the police authorities, and charged the Inspector-General of POlice, Afiz Ringin to meticulously investigate the incident and bring the culprits to book, no matter how highly placed.
However, in a swift reaction of Delta State Police, the Commissioner of Police, Delta State Command, Mr. Ibrahim Isafe, who confirmed the killing, said that he was not aware that Onokpite was a candidate of any political party, but that two of Onokpite’s boys who were arrested with two AK – 47 rifles escorted the police to the hotel where the deceased was killed in an attempt to escape.
Tsafe declared that Onokpite’s killing was just a criminal case and not politically motivated. He revealed further that he did not know Onokpite’s political lineage or his political history. Lastly, he disclosed that he saw the late Onokpite as a person who had criminal tendencies, but could not give a single example of such tendencies.
Nevertheless, in a sharp rebuttal, the deceased’s younger brother, Diemo Onokpitie who manages his brother’s investments in Nigeria, charged that the Police Commissioner was only being economical with the truth, presumably to cover his murderous boys.
“How can he say that he didn’t know that Onokpite was a candidate of any political party when Onokpite’s name was conspicious on INEC’s list of aspirants and the police supervised the election? And if this high police officer could tell an obvious lie, he must have things to hide.”
Diemo disclosed further that even before the election took place, the police authorities had cunningly devised a strategy for keeping his brother out of circulation by arresting him on a trumped-up charge of murder, which they were later forced to drop because there was no single evidence to prove it, but not until he had spent two solid months behind bars and the elections were over.
“Furthermore,” Diemo continued, “that my brother was shot while trying to escape was a piece of shit which even in novels would be incredible. How would one man hope to escape successfully a squad of armed policemen who would instantly pursue and overtake him? What is even more remarkable, when you shoot a civilian in the leg or anywhere else and you don’t want him to die, where do you take him to? The hospital, of course, since any injury can develop complications.
“That the police refused to take him to the hospital (when he was still alive) implied that they wanted him dead. Tell me, is the police station a hospital? It is clear that my brother was murdered because he was vocal and critical of the government since he was always talking about positive change”.
Helen Onokpite, the deceased’s grief-stricken wife was at first, lost for words. With a voice laden with grief, she disclosed that she spoke to her husband for almost 15 minutes, about two hours to his death and he was full of life and so excited about his two year- old daughter, Omovigho, who was to start schooling next Monday.
She revealed also that Omovigho herself had been so excited anytime she saw her daddy’s picture and that the family had planned to come to Nigeria December 10th. Helen Onokpite declared that her husband was a great man of his people who had NGOs to cater for them, especially the youths, to whom he had spent every penny when he was alive. Declaring that he would forever be alive in her mind , she asked the Nigerian government to do the right thing on her husband’s death.
Also reacting to this latest bloodcurdling atrocity, which could have doubled as an episode from the now-rested television serial “Hammer House of Horror” the Ogbe Onokpite Foundation, OOF, has urgently demanded for the immediate resignation of the Delta State Police Command Commissioner, Mr. Ibrahim Tsafe for glaring inefficiency, incompetence and connival, and the arrest and prosecution of the wanton murderers of its founder.
The foundation threatened that it might be forced to also take the law into their hands just as the police did and that in a manner that would make the Boko Haram insurgency look like mere picnics.
This latest outrage by the Nigerian Police, it must be affirmed, swells the tradition of police brutality, barbarity and extra-judicial killings which are worrisome in the Nigerian state. One would clearly remember the Apo Six, Dele Udoh, Emmanuel Victor of Yenagoa, etc.
As a matter of fact, an NGO, the Centre for Victims of Extra-Judicial Killings and Torture (CVEKT), has recently alerted the nation over the steadily-rising cases of reckless use of arms by security operatives, resulting in extra-judicial deaths.
Referring to a report by Network on Police Reform in Nigeria (NOPRIN), CVEKT affirmed that the reckless use of arms has precipitated 7,198 extra-judicial deaths in four years across the country.