*He branded them kid wizards behind his woes – Villager
*Survivor: Dad took us to bush on our way to church, tied us and forced us to drink Sniper
By Samuel Oyadongha, Yenagoa
When Mr. Sunday Otasi, a father of three and resident of Yenigwe on the outskirts Yenagoa, went to his rustic hometown, Agbobiri, in Okordia clan, Yenagoa Local Government Area of Bayelsa State, last week, to take with him his three teenage children, namely Success, 14, Miracle, 12, and Godstime, 10, to Yenagoa, many of his kinsmen thought he may have finally reconciled with them after many years of rejection.
But it turned out to be a journey of no return for two of the lads as their father had allegedly made up his mind to kill them.
Sunday Vanguard learned that the offence of the lads was being branded wizards.
The lads, before the sad turn of event, had been condemned to stay with their grandmother, having been abandoned by their father and his relatives who could have catered for them and their mother, identified as ‘Osisioma’, who chose to leave them to face the vicissitude of life alone by moving in with another man in far away Gbarain Kingdom.
Though not legally married to the suspect, Sunday Vanguard learned that, perhaps, if their mother had stayed back to cater for the kids, the fate that befell them could have been averted.
Otasi was said to have, during a surprise yuletide visit, tricked the community folks into believing he was a changed man by displaying pleasant temperament towards the kids.
He reportedly bought new clothes for the children who, over the years, had to fend for themselves doing odd jobs to survive and also clothed themselves.
Interestingly, until his relocation from Agbobiri, the embattled man, though temperamental, according to sources, was a former Youth President of the community and had worked with several seismic companies prospecting for ‘black gold’ in the oil rich enclave.
He was alleged not to have played the role expected of a father to the kids and was not bothered how they survived.
It was also learned that the siblings were always together as other children in the community were not relating with them because of their being branded wizards.
The alleged stigmatisation of the boys, it was also learned, denied them the opportunity of schooling even though it’s free primary and secondary education in the predominantly riverine state.
A community source told this reporter who was in the community yesterday: “It was like a dream come true for the traumatised lads when their father came visiting last week and told them they would return with him to the state capital.
“The kids clad in clean clothes were taken to the barbershop by their father to have their hair cut in preparation for the trip that fateful morning. I personally thought his coming home to take the children away was an escape from their years of misery until the story filtered into the community later that they were poisoned by their own father and that two of them died before help could come.
“The kids were all alone struggling on their own to eke a living without parental support save for their grandmother who could barely support herself.
“I remember vividly how, during the last devastating flood, they (the kids) braved the turbulent and swift flowing creek in a small canoe to cross and set their fishing traps. I was really terrified and warned them to be careful”.
Another native, who declined to mention her name because of the sensitive nature of the incident, said the suspect had, some years back, threatened the children, accusing them of being responsible for his woes.
He was, however, said to have unleashed his frustration on the kids after he had succeeded in taking them away from their grandmother on the pretence that they were journeying to Yenagoa for a church programme.
On getting to the usually quiet Gloryland Drive Road, popularly known as Igbogene Gateway Road, Otasi reportedly stopped and took the children to the bush.
The terrified kids were allegedly subdued, stripped naked, tied like sheep meant for slaughter and their clothes burned by their father with the help of a suspected accomplice, who reportedly accompanied him on the mission and forced the children to drink the poison identified as Sniper.
They were abandoned to die but a fisherman going to check his fishing trap in the bush turned out to be an angel sent by God.
The agonising cry of the eldest lad who was struggling for his life attracted the fisherman who rushed to town to alert others of his discovery.
The sympathisers were said to have notified the police at Igbogene which rushed the scene and took the boy to hospital.
It was learned that after the lad regained consciousness at the hospital, he relieved their ordeal and that he left two of his siblings in the bush, a development that prompted the police to organise a search which led to the recovery of their dead bodies.
Meanwhile, contrary to the claim that a Yenagoa based prophet told the father of the children sometime in September last year that his children were wizards and responsible for his woes, community sources told Sunday Vanguard that the man had, for long, accused his children of wizardry and that the kids had also carried the burden of being ostracised in the community over the same allegation.
But Otasi, who is now cooling his heels at the state CID, denied killing his sons, insisting that he only brought them to Yenagoa on December 29 to be delivered at the prophet’s church.
“I could not get the deliverance done because the prophet could not attend to them. So I decided to give the three children to my younger brother to return them to their grandmother in the village”, the suspect said.
“I don’t know what my brother did to my children on the way back to the village”.
But the eldest son, Success, who survived the poisonous substance, disagreed with the claim of his father saying his father and one other person, now at large, took them to the bush and gave them Sniper to drink.
The boy, who spoke at a hospital in Yenagoa where he is receiving treatment, said his father deceived them by telling that he was taking them to a church service in Yenagoa.
He added that on their way, the suspect diverted them to a bush where they were tied and given Sniper to drink.
“My father came to take us from our grandmother and told us that we were going to a church in Yenagoa but when we reached the road he and his brother took us to the bush and tied me and my younger brothers and gave us sniper to drink”, the boy said.
“I managed to come to the road after I used my legs to remove the rope and people saw me and took me to hospital.”
Confirming the incident, Bayelsa State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Aminu Selah, said the father had made confessional statements.
Selah said the police mounted manhunt on the fleeing suspect, adding that investigations were ongoing to identify all the parties involved in the killings.
He called on parents to show love to their children and wards and urged members of the public to avoid jungle justice of any kind.