By Anayo Okoli, Umuahia
LIFE definitely will not be the same again for the family of Mr. Celestine Ozuruoha, the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) of Uratta Police Station, Aba, Abia State, who was killed while on patrol. The family will live the rest of their lives without their loved husband, father and brother.
Ozuruoha, said to be a hardworking officer, was killed in the early hours of December 5, 2011. And since his death, the wife, Chinyere, has not recovered from the shock. She believes the deceased was killed by a close friend, a fellow police officer.
In the meantime, the murder is posing to the Abia police command a puzzle. Should the wife be believed that the deceased fell in the hands of his friend? Initially, the command arrested some police men who were on patrol with the late DPO that fateful morning he was killed.
The traditional ruler of the community where the killing took place was also arrested. They were all held in police custody. But Sunday Vanguard could not confirm if they were still in custody at press time.
The family is alleging that Ozuruoha was killed by one of the officers in police custody, who the wife described as a “bosom friend” of her husband. The family urged the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Hafiz Ringim, to prevail on the Assistant Inspector General of Police in charge of Zone 9, Umuahia, to fish out the killer of their son.
Chinenye and Mr. Nnamdi Onyebuchi, nephew of the slain DPO, who spoke to Sunday Vanguard pleaded with the police high command not to allow the killers of the Umuabuchi Uli Ihiala Local Government Area, Anambra State-born DPO to go scot-free.
The wife, and a mother of five, strongly believes her husband was set up by his police friend just because, according to her, he did not encourage corruption. Her problem, however, is that she did not know who the killer of her husband were working for. And this, she prayed the police to find out equally.
“My husband was a police officer who would not smoke, drink or womanize. He worked with both the current Abia State police commissioner and Aba area commander when they were in Ibadan, Oyo State. The two men can testify to his kind of person,” she stated.
“A DPO who does not own a car in Nigeria, you will know that he abhors corruption. The fact that he did not own a car never bothered him. Rather, he believed that by dint of hard work, he would own one. You cannot imagine that he was still building a house before he was brutally murdered”.
Elaborating on foul play in the death, Mrs. Ozuruoha alleged that two weeks before her husband was killed, he came to Enugu where the family lived, and complained about threats to his life on account of his resolve to deal decisively with kidnappers and armed robbers, particularlys those behind a car theft he was handing before his murder. She said one of the suspects in police custody, who was a close friend of her husband, was behind the threats.
“Last week [before he was killed] because of the car theft case, my husband told me that the same police officer, who even visited our home in Enugu and Uli, used the language,‘turkey don born monkey’, against my husband for his insistence on allowing justice to be done in the car theft case against the wish of this bosom police friend”, she alleged.
The widow stated that on the morning of the incident, one of the police officers in detention called her husband around 1 a.m. over a purported robbery incident, and, being his friend, her husband responded to the call not knowing that he was called out to be killed by the friend whom she said was working for some people.
“I have always known that the man was never a good friend to my husband but my husband is someone that trusted people. As a dutiful DPO, he responded to the call at that unholy hour because he always wanted to encourage his subordinates. He even called the station guard who went with him to answer the call, and the man has [allegedly] testified how he was killed and who shot him”, the widow said.
“The issue of unknown assailants should not arise. His colleagues know who killed him, and some of them have even called to tell us the person that did the dastardly shooting.”
Onyebuchi, nephew to the slain DPO, added: “Some suspects have been indicted and the police officer who shot him has been arrested and some of his colleagues have said he killed the DPO. So what again are we talking about? What the police should do is to find out from the killer or killers who sent him or them to kill him and why they sent them”.
At the initial stage of investigation, the Abia police commissioner, Mr. Bala Hassan, confirmed that some policemen were arrested in connection with the matter. He said a traditional ruler in the area was also arrested.
The police boss said the interim report of the investigation was ready when he spoke with Sunday Vanguard recently.
“I am sure that the interim report should be on my table now. I am in Abuja. A number of arrests have been made, including the traditional ruler of the particular community. Investigation is on, we want to get the pathology report too”, he said.
Perhaps with the interim report out, the police may have a clear picture of what happened on the day of the incident. Hassan, in a telephone interview, last week, also said the police were hunting for two bad boys in the area, suspected to be the killers of the DPO.
According to him, the two suspects fled the village immediately after the killing of Ozuruoha . The police boss disclosed that the suspects were arrested by soldiers of Operation Jubilee and detained at the Asa Camp of the anti-kidnapping outfit, for a different offence. They were, however, released.
He said the police were on their trail and were liaising with soldiers to assist in arresting them.