Chuks Onuoha, Aba
Since December last year, they have been in agony. Tears and sorrow have been their constant companions. And several weeks after the incident, the aged parents of Miss Kasarachi Okwuonu, a 30-year-old petty trader, who was allegedly killed after she was hit by a police bullet at the popular Ubakala junction, along the Enugu-Port Harcourt Expressway in Abia State, are crying out, seeking justice for their late daughter.
They are calling on the Inspector-General of Police to wade in and unravel the mystery behind the death of their daughter.
Also concerned about the death of the woman are the citizens of Mgbarakuma Autonomous Community, the birthplace of the slain young woman. They all accused policemen attached to Apumiri Ubakala Police Division of being behind the death of their daughter, and petitioned the IGP, Muhammed Adamu, to intervene.
The incident occurred on December 1, 2019, while the lady was at her shop along the expressway in the community.
Mr. and Mrs. Okwuonu, father and mother of the deceased, who spoke amid tears and looked every inch shaken by the incident, expressed sadness over the killing of their daughter, whom they described as the breadwinner of the family.
They explained that they were at home with her before she left for the market around 4pm on the fateful day. “And before midnight, some youths came to inform us that she had been shot dead by the police,” the parents said. “We are devastated, we are finished. Nigeria Police have murdered all of us because she was our only source of survival through the trading she was doing at that junction since I retired from service as a civil servant,” Okwuonu said. “Now that she has been killed, what are we going to do?”
His wife, who was said to be ill even befoe her daughter died, corroborated what her husband said about Kasarachi, adding that her daughter was the only one caring for them, as she has been sick for a long time now.
“Kasarachi was my second child. I had them five, but now only two are remaining, and now that her life has been cut short, what are we going to do? I am too old to think of having other children for my husband,” she said.
Speaking on the incident, former president-general of Mgbarakuma Autonomous Community, Sir Michael Chikezie, on behalf of other community leaders and the entire people of Mgbarakuma, narrated how an unidentified trigger-happy policeman shot and killed their defenseless daughther, Miss Kasarachi Okwuonu, where she was running her business as a petty trader. All, including leaders of the community and parents of the victi, described the incident as “police brutality” and came out in their numbers to register their displeasure over the killing of one of their own. It was a sad day for the people of Mgbarakuma, as most of them wore sad faces and black attire to convey their feelings.
They wondered why those being shot were young innocent girls who had not been associated with any criminal activity, people in their legitimate means of livelihood.
Sir Chkezie also narrated how, in 2006, another resident, Uzoma Kanu, was felled by the police bullet at the same spot where Kasarachi was killed.
“The story police is telling us about the recent death of Kasarachi is not acceptable to us. It is the same story we were told when they killed our daughter Uzoma in September 2006, a petty trader at the same junction and on the same spot. Can we now say that police is performing ritual with the blood of our daughters at that junction?” they queried.
“The shoddy way the case was handled was painful to Ubakala people in general and Mgbarakuma in particular. And we keep asking ourselves why policemen in Ubakala keep shooting our girls and daughters in cold blood and the authorities are not doing anything about it. If we keep quiet about this development, they will shoot another person in no distant time.
“The question is, why should it be that they are always shooting young girls, is there anything they are dragging with young girls? These are defenseless young people who have never been associated with any kind of criminal activity. In 2006, the young girl was selling for somebody, and was returning home when they picked her down. This incident of 2019, she was doing petty trade, having graduated from school without job, she took to petty trading to assist her aged parents. People trading along that Ubakala junction were witnesses to what happened and have made useful statement to the police, an indication that the young girl was innocent.
“We want detailed explanation, and call on the IGP to step in and unravel the mysteries behind these periodical killings. We believe that police are trained to know when to shoot and when to apply caution. They are trained to use tear gas to disperse students in higher institutions and youths, or rubber bullets; but here in Ubakala, they use heavy ammunition to kill our daughters. We want this to stop and we call on the IGP to ensure that justice is done in this matter. The police know the person who killed our daughter and should ensure that they are brought to book. But they will not tell us to avoid reactions. The girls they shot were not troublemakers, but people who were struggling for survival,” Mgbarakuma people stated.
Reacting to the allegations, the police public relations officer, Geoffrey Ogbonna, said that the incident was not intentional. He explained that it was a stray bullet that hit and killed the girl while some hoodlums were attacking members of SARS in the Ubakala axis of the Enugu-Port Harcourt expressway. He stated that the police regretted what happened, adding that the duty of the police was to protect life and property and not to kill innocent citizens.
Meanwhile the corpse of Kasarachi is still lying at the Federal Medical Center Mortuary, where she was deposited by the police who are also holding the tally.