A 41-year-old man, Mr. Smart Odojie, yesterday recalled how his father, a retired Army officer, Mr. Samuel Udojie Ofagba, was allegedly murdered by a Divisional Police Officer (DPO), Aisabor, in Usenu Irrua in Esan Central Local Government Area of Edo State. Smart spoke in Benin before members of the Edo State Judicial Panel of Inquiry for victims of SARS and related abuses. He disclosed that the sad incident occurred on March 9, 1999.
Smart also told the panel that his uncle, Mr. Abhulimen Ofagba, and his father’s labourer, Kingsley, were allegedly murdered alongside his father by the same police officer. Smart, who was 20 years old when the incident occurred, told the panel that Kingsley, who worked with his father on his farm, was accosted by the police officer when he was coming from a night burial and was taken to his father (Mr. Samuel Udojie Ofagba) for identification. He said when his father saw Kingsley, he identified him as one of his workers. The young man, who broke down in tears, appealed to the panel to unravel the circumstances surrounding the death of his relatives. He also demanded a N50 million includcompensation.
Narrating his experience, Smart said his father asked Kingsley, what brought him to his house that early morning in his native language but was stopped by the policeman for conversing in his dialect instead of English language that everyone could understand.
He said: “So, the said police of-ficer made an attempt to slap my father but he quickly held his hand and that one argument led to the other which eventually landed them at the police station.” Smart said his father, uncle and his father’s labourer were kept behind the counter and were told to bail themselves with N40,000,.
But, according to him, they were only able to raise N23,000 which the police allegedly rejected. SmartsaidhewaslatertoldbytheInvestigative Police Officer (IPO) to come back the following day to see the DPO since it was already late in the day only for them to hear that they had been shot dead and their bodies dumped at the Irrua Police Division and labelled “armed robbers” by the DPO. He explained that the police claimed that they engaged them in a shoot out with his men at Ewu junction, Irrua.
The complainant added that the police proceeded to produce a cutto- size locally-made gun and 10 live cartridges allegedly belonging to his late father and uncle. He noted that to make the matter worse, their bodies were not released to the family for burial.
Smart prayed the panel to compel Aisabor to lead him to where his father was buried so that he could exhume his body and give him a befitting burial. He also asked for the prosecution of officers who were remotely involved in the killing of his father, uncle and his father’s labourer. Smart also sought a public apology from the Nigeria Police Force for defaming his father, uncle and his father’s labourer.
The Chairman of the panel, Justice Ada Ehigiamusoe (rtd), on listening to the petitioner, ordered that the said Aisabor be summoned before the panel. He said: “This is the collective view of the panel that the said police officer named in the petition, one Mr. Aisabor, be summoned before this panel to answer to issues as contained in the petition.”