By Jimitota Onoyume, Assistant News Editor
The parents wept uncontrollably as they narrated the sad incident to the Vanguard Metro. Their son, Alex, who was about 20 years old was among eight persons reportedly killed at different locations in Port Harcourt by suspected cultists.
Like some of the others who were shot dead by the rampaging cultists the parents of Alex and some members of Ogbunabali community believed Alex and his friend were not the target of the assailants. “They were just unlucky to be at the wrong place when the boys struck,” a lady on Gada Street where the sad incident occurred said.
“My son was a good boy. He was loved by everybody. My son cannot be a cultist,” the mother insisted as she spoke to the VM. She sobbed as she continued: ” Go to Ogbunabali market, women will tell you about my son. He is not a cultist”. When asked if he was a member of any of the political parties, the woman said her son had no time for politics. “No, he was not a member of any political party. He did not have time to even go for his permanent voter’s card, PVC, “ she broke down crying again.
The father, Mr Chijioke Jona who was by the side of the wife, took it up from there. ”He was my first son. I had two boys and two girls. The two boys are now dead. One died some years back while this one died on Thursday. Now I have only two girls, “ he said as he shook his head, paused and continued.
“He came back from work between 6pm and 6.30pm. He saw me sitting outside. He said I should have put on the generator and be inside the house. I told him I wanted us to manage the available fuel. Well, he later went to put on the generator. “When his friend visited, they decided to go and eat noodles at a nearby place where they sell cooked noodles with fried egg.
He liked noodles, so he patronised the place regularly. About 15 minutes after they left, I suddenly saw people running helterskelter. Then I heard: ‘They shot him on the leg’. Later some elderly men came to tell me not to worry, assuring me that he was shot on the leg and had been rushed to the state-owned Braithwaite Memorial Hospital, BMH. I was asking them, ‘who and what happened?’ Nobody told me anything. All they kept saying was ‘na leg dem shoot am, wear your cloth. Just come’.
“Immediately I sensed that something terrible must have happened. I quickly went inside to dress up, switched off the generator and came out. Some of the elderly men immediately drove me in a vehicle to BMH. It was at the Emergency Ward I saw the lifeless body of my son. I screamed and those around held me again, trying to calm me”.
He paused at this stage to gaze at the wall in front of him, his right hand supporting his jaw. Then shaking his head, he sighed and wept: ” O! So my son is gone. My son, my son. Just like that; my son who was with me barely 30 minutes before the incident”. But shaking off his sorrow, he turned to the reporter and continued.
“As I heard, they said he had finished eating the plate of noodles he ordered and was waiting for his friend who asked for a second plate when the assailants came and started shooting at them. “He ran into a nearby chemist shop after they fired the first bullet at him; the killers followed him, shooting.
“My son was a talented young boy. He finished his secondary school and was hoping to continue his education but in the interim was repairing phones and laptops at Garrison area of Port Harcourt. My son was never a cultist,” he said.
Community folks who spoke about the late Alex described him as a gentle and quiet young boy who would never hurt a fly. “Appeal, as we called Alex, could never have been a cultist. He was jovial and friendly. It was a very painful death,” a neighbour said.
Alex and his friend were not the target of the killers
Some of those who spoke to VM said the late Alex and his friend were not the target of the assailants. A community source who spoke under anonymity said youths in the area took note of the killers when they drove round in a taxi. According to the source, the assailants allegedly had two informants on ground who kept tab on their target.
“ Their target greeted the late Alex and his friend before they entered the noodles spot. What I heard was that he showed Alex his phone and said it had some problems. So they agreed that he would work on it later. Those monitoring probably thought Alex and his friend belonged to the same rival cult group with the target they greeted. So they had to go for them when they missed their target, thinking the two were members of the target’s group”.
Not much is known about the late Alex friend who was also shot dead since he did not reside in the community. “We heard the friend who died with him that night visited from one of the universities around,” a community source said. Last week’s sad incident has raised the number of those shot dead in Port Harcourt under cult-related circumstance within three weeks to about 23. Residents expressed worries with the development, connecting it with the upcoming elections.