•Caught by vigilance group
•Police authorities keep mum
By Emma Amaize & Egufe Yafugborhi
WARRI—TWO police officers went berserk in Warri, Delta State and shot dead a 28-year-old truck assistant, Amos Nsikak. They shot erratically into the air after the incident to scare away citizens in the neighbourhood and bolted away afterward, but alert members of a vigilance group in the area apprehended and handed them over to the police.
Since the November 4 incident, anxiety has mounted in the locality, as police authorities in the state were accused of playing hide and seek.
Findings by Niger Delta Voice revealed that Nsikak, who lived at 33, Omarekewe Street, a two-storey apartment, off London Opi Street, Ekuerede Urhobo, Warri, where the incident occurred, left his roommates to pick his cloth hanging on a line outside, when the unexpected happened.
Walk to death
If the indigene of Ekpene Ikpan Neit, Neit Ibom LGA, Akwa Ibom State, who came to Warri in March, had a premonition of death, he would have remained indoors. In preparation for work the next day, Thursday, November 5, he had washed his attire earlier that morning and hung it on a rope in the compound.
Two mobile police officers, reportedly squatting in the compound, cut him down with bullets, when he left his apartment to pick the clothes off the line.
Nsikak, about five-feet tall and third of eight children, came back with his colleagues at about 11p.m. that fateful night, took his bath before going downstairs. That was the last time his flat mates, David Gabriel, Joel Faruno and Olumide Fatoki saw him alive.
The two Police corporals allegedly shot him at point blank range with their AK-47 rifles, claiming thereafter that he was trying to steal their uniforms hung on the same line. Hours after the fatal shooting, Nsikak’s blood splattered all over the scene revealed a futile struggle for life. Like a bull in a China shop, Nsikak, in the throes of pain staggered to various points at the backyard.
Even if he had survived, he would have been unable to use his right arm anymore, because it was shattered, with a five-inch hole. Another bullet had pierced the right side of his abdomen. A large hole on the shattered glass window from where the cops fired the shots spoke volumes of unprovoked violence.
‘He was not a criminal’
Nsikak’s friend and confidant, David Gabriel, said his friend was not a thief and his murder would devastate his parents. He told Niger Delta Voice: “We got home late after our normal work day. We had travelled as far to Oghara to get petroleum products and eventually entered the house about 11p.m.
“He was going to get his clothes from the line and we were watching television. Next thing, I heard gunshots. I cautiously came out of the house to find out what was happening since we have a security man at the gate. “That was when it occurred to me that Amos was still outside and it struck me that something must have terribly gone wrong.
“I went downstairs and met Nsikak on the ground. I called out to him and he just managed to say: na Mopol shoot me, I nor know wetin I do am ooooo. “Things actually went awry as Nsikak laid in a pool of his blood, writhing in agony, while the police officers shot indiscriminately into the air to scare people and prevent them from coming out to ascertain what was amiss.”
Foiled escape bid
“The policemen tried to escape after the shooting; it was later the vigilante told us that they saw the policemen with their guns and ordered them to stop. The men stopped, dropped their weapons and surrendered themselves to the group, who took them to the police station.”
The driver Nsikak worked with, Olumide Fatoki, was in pain when he spoke to Niger Delta Voice: “That boy is a good boy. I cannot understand what happened. “I was already asleep when the gunshots thundered. I quickly rushed down, studied the situation and ran to the Quick Response base that was just 400 metres away. They promptly came to the house, and eventually took Amos to the hospital, but it was rather too late.
“The bullet wounds on Nsikak were too fatal for the young man to survive. What will I tell his parents? I brought him to work with me because I trust him, we have been working together for five years and I can vouch for him. I do not know how this came to happen.”
The officers’ duty
A source said: “Sadly, the policemen were not known tenants to the 33 Omarekweke Street, off London Opi in Ekurede Urhobo area of Warri.
“Former occupant of the building, a pastor in a reputable church in Warri (names withheld) passed the accommodation to the policemen, who were engaged to provide security at a school owned by the church. They were supposed to rest in the decent three-bedroom accommodation and resume work at the school.
“They do not pay rent here; we have just found out they are also not known to the landlord. However, we saw their presence in this compound as extra security. We never ever thought that they will be the source of such grief to bona fide residents of this building.”
Disquieting police silence
Since police took the two cops into custody, they have been taciturn on their identity and investigation so far. Delta State Police Public Relations Officer, DSP Celestina Kalu, just resuming from vacation, said five days after the incident: “I am yet to be properly briefed on the incident and cannot make a clear statement at the moment.”
Two days later, precisely Thursday, November 11, when Niger Delta Voice contacted the PPRO, she maintained the same position. The seeming police reluctance to speak publicly on the matter was considered repugnant and worrisome by residents.
A security expert, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said: “The Delta Police Command has not displayed good conduct in this whole saga. “In other climes, the angry public would have been told names of the suspects and the duty that took them to take shelter in that building.
“Given the barbaric appeal of the crime, their mental history to determine if one or both of them have anger management troubles also would have been made known as part of measures to determine the motive for their action. “We are talking of a man shooting an unarmed civilian so close with an AK-47. We cannot shave their heads in their absence, but their action is inexcusable.”
Killer cops moved from Warri to Asaba
However, investigation revealed that the police, while reluctant to offer public statement, have been covertly investigating the matter. They have moved the suspects initially detained at the ‘B’ Division, Warri, to Asaba. A source told Niger Delta Voice, “Already the investigating team has recommended dismissal for both suspects before their inevitable court trial. Police usually do so in critical situations as this is to extricate itself from the eventual court trial of suspects.
“I think the reluctance of the Delta Police Command to take clear responsibility for the sins of both men is because as you may have heard, they were not drafted from any police formation in Delta State. “From what we know, a popular church in Warri hired them from Squadron 36 in Kebbi to guard their school in town.”
A tenant said: “They were not even recognized tenants in that building. The original tenant of the apartment, a pastor, passed the accommodation for their comfort as they provide security for the church’s school.”
Rights activist, Oghenejakpor Ikimi, said: “If the shooters were not from Delta State Police Command, the church which hired them from Kebbi and housed them to watch over its school also needs to be called to question.”