Metro & Crime

Air Force officer kills Germany-based man in wife, babies’ presence

…victim’s two-year-old son cries ‘Daddy wake up’
…widow seeks redress, petitions Imo gov

Not a few people believe that the spate of killings and insecurity in Imo State has been exacerbated by the activities of police, Army and the Air Force personnel. Nobody would have expected the security forces to sit down and do nothing while their ranks are being decimated by gunmen, but rampant killing of non-combatant and innocent citizens defeats whatever kind of peace the security forces seek to achieve for citizens.

Beyond the more than 10 known people, all innocent citizens, who have been killed by the bullets of security operatives in Imo State in the last three weeks, the killing of a German-returnee, Mr. Oguchi Unachukwu, by men of the Nigerian Air Force on May 31 is a vivid pointer to the frightening degeneration of security in Imo State. Oguchi, who was going back to his base in Hamburg, Germany, was killed without any offence or provocation, in the presence of his children and wife.

Oguchi’s only offence was believing his Governor, Hope Uzodinma, who had urged residents to discountenance the sit-at-home directive of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) on Monday, May 31, and go about their businesses without fear of molestation. On more than two occasions, including a state-wide broadcast, Uzodinma had reassured residents of the state to go about their businesses without fear on Monday, May 31. Oguchi believed his governor and on the said day decided to make his trip to Lagos from where he would later, the same day, fly back to his base in Hamburg, Germany. His young family was riding with him to see him off to the airport. Before getting to the airport checkpoint manned by the Nigerian Air Force, Oguchi and his family had passed three other military and police checkpoints which waved them on without any drama.

In a petition to Governor Uzodinma, the wife of the deceased, Mrs. Ijeoma Unachukwu, who wrote through a lawyer, said: “When we got to the airport checkpoint manned by the Nigerian Air Force, we stopped for the usual checks and cleared the vehicle off the road. At that instance, with no communication, offence or provocation, they shot my husband point-blank through the forehead, right in front of his wife and children.”

The family lawyer, Mr. Ihediohanma Akponye, said: “There was no justification for this killing. Oguchi did not speed past the checkpoint, he did not challenge their authority, he was not making or taking calls, he did not violate any of their usual checkpoint rules. He did absolutely nothing to deserve death! It was just a cold-blooded execution of a decent man whose only offence was believing his governor and believing in his country.” At the time of his killing, the eldest of his two children is just two years old while the new baby the wife was carrying at the time of shooting, is just four months’ old.

A public commentator, Emeka Ahaneku,why a human being would even shoot at a man on the steering wheel with his wife by his side carrying a baby. He said: “It is beastly! He must have gotten an order to kill, he should tell the public who gave the order to kill. This is one death too many and the perpetrators should be brought to book.

These killings for kicks or fun must stop. Imagine how traumatised the wife and children must be. His two-yearold son watched the bullet rip through his father as blood splattered all over the car. It was the kid who was crying: ‘Daddy wake up, Daddy wake up’, not knowing his daddy was far gone. This must stop and Oguchi must get justice. We cannot continue to devalue human lives in this country while those who should take action fiddle with trivialities.” The petition to the governor further reads: “Our concern with this death is that our client believed in the directives and assurances Your Excellency gave to the citizens, which induced his moving to the airport that morning for his journey. It is therefore imperative for His Excellency to intervene in the discovery and discipline of the culprit officer for the sake of the innocent children of the late Oguchi.

“Your personal intervention will certainly help in showing empathy to the family and help stop this unfortunate situation particularly now that the police are also complaining of losing their men to the same trigger-happy Air Force personnel.” Regrettably, despite the outrage in Owerri, following the supposedly wilful extrajudicial murder of more than 10 people in the last three weeks, not one of the trigger-happy security personnel is known to have been arrested or reprimanded.

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