…Man’s stomach ripped open
From Femi Folaranmi, Yenagoa
Saturday, October 22, 2016, has become inscribed as a day of infamy in the minds of people in Ekeki community in Yenagoa Local Government Area, Bayelsa State. On that day as members of the Kokorifa family in the Edebebiri community in Sagbama LGA were burying their 21-year-old son, Innocent Kokorifa, who was felled by the bullets of men of the Special Anti- Robbery Squad (SARS), another SARS team killed two other people including a five-year-old boy, Godgift Odoku in Ekeki community, over a missing phone.
Sunday Sun investigations revealed that the build up to the killing of the duo began on Friday, October 21 during the burial of a youth leader in the community. Some suspected cultists were said to have harassed some guests and in the process stole some phones.
One of the girls whose phone was stolen was said to have invited operatives of Operation Doo Akpo to the community. Their presence did not achieve the desired result for the lady, so she brought a SARS team and hell was let loose in the community.
The SARS team was said to have invaded the community shooting sporadically and beating up youths in the community. In the course of the indiscriminate shootings little Godgift was hit by a bullet, which passed right through him and ripped the stomach of Chibuzor Inyang open, causing his intestine to spill out. The same bullet also hit another victim, David on the hip.
Upon realizing that they had killed innocent people, the SARS operatives zoomed off. In the resulting pandemonium, the father of Godgift, ThankGod Odoku ran back to his house, where he saw his son lying on the floor in a pool of his own blood.
When he spoke with Sunday Sun reporter at his residence, 34-year-old Odoku gave a heart-rending account of what happened and condemned the police for killing his son in cold blood and attempting to cover their crime.
His words: “On Saturday I left my house to attend a meeting at Ediepie when suddenly I had a hunch to go back to the house. I was on the way to my house when I heard gunshots. As I was rushing to the house, I saw my wife running towards me, screaming that the police had killed our son. The police did not bother to check the boy instead they were all running away. I grabbed one of them who happened to be the head of the team. I held him tight and refused to let him go. My wife had rushed the boy to the hospital, while I saw Chibuzor already dead on the ground. The policeman fired more shots but I refused to let go of him until he started begging. He said he was not the one that killed my son but one of his men. I held him still and dragged him to the centre of the community where people were already gathering.
“His colleagues attempted to rescue him and fired shots to scare people off but the community refused to be intimidated. It was then that they all started begging me and I insisted that we must all go to the station. When we got to the station, they confessed that they shot and killed my son. The officer-in-charge of SARS ordered that they be detained.”
Odoku who said he had been in touch with the police leadership over the matter insisted that the policemen who killed his son must face the full wrath of the law. Though the police admitted that it was mistake, the plan by the SARS team to escape from the scene also betrayed their motive in the community as they were shooting without regard for the people, which eventually led to the killing of innocent people.
The anguished Odoku said: “I want the Inspector General of Police and the Governor Seriake Dickson to hear about the case. The suspects must be punished in accordance with the law of the land.”
David who was also hurt in the unfortunate incident lambasted the police for abandoning him after the shooting spree. He said that it was inhuman for policemen to shoot people and expect the victims to treat themselves without any form of assistance from the police.
He spoke further: “I was in my boss’s house playing with his children when suddenly I heard gunshots and I saw Godgift fall. I did not know I had also been hit until I saw my leg shaking and I felt pain. I saw Chibuzor Inyang on the ground with blood on his body. I had to go and treat myself before the police gave me police report two days after. Since then I have not seen or heard from the Police authorities.
When contacted by Sunday Sun reporter, the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Asinim Butswat, in a terse statement said the police had arrested the policeman that fired the shots, adding that the Commissioner of Police had ordered investigations into the matter.
But Bayelsans seem not to be impressed by the police statement, and rather demanded for the trial of the policemen involved in the killings.
The Bayelsa State chapter of the Civil Liberties Organisation led by Chief Nengi James in a statement issued following the killings called on the Inspector General of Police, Mr Ibrahim Idris to set up a special probe into the rising rate of police killings in Bayelsa State.
Nengi said: “We condemn the increasing rate of police killings in the state and call on the IGP to immediately probe the killings of the citizen and the indiscriminate arrest and extortion of huge amounts of money from the citizenry under the guise of bail.”
Association of Epie Youths few days after the killing also took to the streets demanding the prosecution of the policemen that invaded Ekeki community.
Meanwhile, the member representing Yenagoa/Kolokuma/Opokuma in the House of Representatives, Hon Douye Diri, has moved a motion for the IGP to be summoned by the House.
In response to the mounting pressure, the IGP, Sunday Sun reporter gathered, has summoned the AIG in charge of the zone. The people have vowed that the unlawful killing of little Godgift and Chibuzor would not be swept under the carpet.