•corpse of another youth recovered
•Ijaw youths condemn killing
By Samuel Oyadongha
KINSMEN of the murdered 3SC central defender, Izu Joseph, at Okarki community in Ahoada West Local Government area of Rivers State yesterday relieved the sad details of the last moments of the promising football star before he was cut down by soldiers on Sunday.
Angry indigenes of the community, led by clan head of the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) in the area, Goodleaf Osineme, the deputy youth leader of the community, Abie Samson and Comrade Jonah Wisdom, said the late central defender was shot twice in the leg and the mid region despite pleading that he was a footballer and not a criminal.
“When Izu heard the commotion and the shooting of guns, he stepped out and he was stopped at gun point by one of the soldiers. When he identified himself as a footballer and brought out his identification card, he was shot in the leg. Despite the gunshot he was still pleading for his life. Another soldier came and shot him in the stomach.
“The soldiers dragged him towards the Orashi River, about some meters away and dumped his body in it. They also shot a 21-year old boy, who was trying to swim across the river.
“Okarki has been known as a peaceful community and we have never had any case of criminality. The Federal Government must investigate and fish out the soldiers behind the gruesome murder of our sons and stars,” said an indigene of the community.
Also, a friend of the late footballer, Tony, said “Izu had few minutes before he was killed shared N1,000 each to almost twenty-eight youths and women around.
“He told us that he was invited to the camp of the Super Eagles and he had to resume on Monday. He asked someone to go to his house and get his packed bag. But before the boy he sent came, he was shot by soldiers.”
The indigenes of the Okarki community alleged that the soldiers were attached to a military point in Akinnima and led by a Major.
Also the corpse of a 21-year man, identified as Oko Osuekina, was yesterday discovered in the community river.
According to the indigenes, the deceased was shot in the head by soldiers on Sunday while trying to swim to safety during the armed invasion.
“He was shot in the head by the soldiers. On Sunday, he was by the river washing his motorbike when he heard sounds of gun shots. He dived into the river and tried to swim to safety. But one of the soldiers shot him in the head,” said Collins.
The Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) worldwide yesterday said it received with shock and sadness the gruesome murder of two Ijaw youths: Shooting Stars of Ibadan football club defender, Joseph Izu and Oko Osuekina in Okarki Community, Ediro/Ogbologolo Clan in Ahoada West Local Government Area of Rivers State.
Spokesman of the IYC, Eric Omare in a statement said “this murder is highly condemnable and brings to the fore the disdain with which the Nigerian military treat Niger Deltans. The corpse of Oko Osuekina who was shot by military officers on his forehead at the same time with Joseph Izu was found floating on the Okarki River some few hours ago.
“To demonstrate the impunity and unprofessional attitude of the military officers in the Niger Delta, the IYC leadership has just been informed by the IYC Clan Chairman of Ediro/Ogbologbo Clan, Mr. Solomon Harrison that at the time of issuing this press statement, the entire Okarki community is tense because the military was in the community intimidating villagers all through the night and shot sporadically into the community.
“The IYC is at a loss as to the justification for the military impunity in Okarki Community. The military is behaving as if the Ijaw people of Okarki are not human beings. Our people are being treated like animals that must be killed with impunity. The IYC has always known the unprofessional attitude of the Nigerian military, hence we have been advocating against military action in the Niger Delta region.
“From our experience, innocent people like the victims in this case are always at the receiving end of any military action instead of the supposed criminals that the military ought to go after. We strongly condemn this barbaric and criminal conduct of officers of the Nigerian military and call on all lovers of humanity to join in condemnation of this action. We also demand for the military officers who carried out this extra judicial murder to be brought to justice.