A 62-year-old lecturer at the University of Benin (UNIBEN), Dr. William Okotie, yesterday said life had been difficult for him and his family since he lost his wife, Dr. Stella Okotie. He said Stella died as a result of the recklessness of the police at the gate of the university.
Okotie, who attended the Edo State Judicial Panel of Inquiry for victims of SARS intimidation and related abuses with his son, Ogheneochuko, told the panel that his wife was killed while standing in front of the university’s main gate. The lecturer said the death could have been avoided if the police officers on duty had not struggled with the steering wheel with a bus driver.
He said: “We don’t know what happened between the driver and the policemen. We only saw the officers of the police dragging the steering with the driver until they hit my wife. My son and I were standing alongside my wife (now deceased) when it happened.”
Okotie, who is a lecturer in the Department of Institute of Public Administration, UNIBEN, told the panel that the family had done with the burial of his wife but needed compensation from the government to be able to take care of the family and settle debt incurred during her burial. When asked how he had been coping since he lost his wife, the lecturer said “it has been hell” trying to care for the family.
According to him, he has to battle with how to cook and dress up the children for school. He added: “Since it happened, it hasn’t been easy with us. It is not something one should experience; I have been doing the cooking and school runs.”
Okotie noted that it was a pity that his wife, who was also a lecturer in the Department of Institute of Education, UNIBEN, died very close to her place of work.
He said: “My wife was a lecturer in the Institute of Education. She was fond of where she worked, and she died in front of her workplace. This was caused by the unprofessional conduct of the police.
“Two police officers were dragging the steering with the driver of the minibus which led to her death.”