We’re heartbroken, we want justice •Parents of slain up and coming Delta musician cry to IGP
IF Chinedu Obi, 26 years old and final year student of the Department of Geophysics, University of Port Harcourt (UNIPORT), Port Harcourt, Rivers State, had had a premonition, perhaps he would have shelved his trip of July 15, 2019, meant as an avenue to hone his music talent in Ogun State.
Obi, who hailed from Utagbogbe community in Ndokwa West Local Government Area of Delta State, was an up and coming musician known as Zinquest.
The final year student had dreamt of becoming a music superstar in the near future but he needed to hone his skills. So, his friend, Adio Sodiq, popularly called Teddy, asked him to come over to Sango-Ota also in Ogun State for that purpose.
He had hardly spent a week with Teddy when he was arrested and taken to Sango Ota Police Station in Ado-Odo/Ota Local Government Area of the state over an allegation by a lady selling phones that the deceased assaulted her.
Thereafter, Obi was arrested for assault by the unknown phone seller and before long, the swift journey to his untimely grave began.
At the Sango Ota Police station, according to reports, it was alleged that Obi became irrational and uncontrollable. He was reportedly handcuffed. It was also alleged that despite the handcuff, Obi went berserk, removed the handcuff, grabbed a long axe in the interrogation room, escaped into the station premises and began to destroy vehicles parked around there.
The police further alleged that axe-wielding Obi, after destroying dozens of vehicles, charged at an armed policeman who went ahead to shoot him in the leg to demobilise him.
Reports further had it that after being shot in the leg, the police allegedly left him to bleed and wriggle in pain for a long time without any medical attention.
A video clip on his last moment which went viral on the social media saw Obi requesting to be obliged an audience with his father on phone, but he was denied.
The Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Ogun State Command, Mr. Abimbola Opeyemi, had explained that the deceased was only shot in the leg to demobilise him when it became apparent that he could hack down the policeman he was allegedly chasing, who later shot him.
The PPRO, who said Obi destroyed 17 vehicles, further disclosed that the deceased, after he was shot was swiftly taken to Ifo General Hospital where he said he eventually gave up the ghost. This has been debunked by most Nigerians who watched the viral video.
According to Oyeyemi: “what happened was that the guy (Obi) was arrested for a case of assault occasioned by harm. He fought someone and injured the person; so the person lodged a complaint against him and he was arrested.
“While they were interrogating him, he stood up suddenly and took the axe recovered as an exhibit and started chasing policemen round the station. From there, he broke the windscreens of about 17 vehicles with the axe.
“He started chasing the officer, who was armed, with the axe and that officer shot him in the leg to demobilise him. He was immediately taken to the Ifo General Hospital where he died. A police officer is justified to use firearm if his life is in danger and when there is no other means of protecting himself.
“Would they be looking at him and allow him to axe (sic) people down in the station? So, those people saying the police watched him till he bled to death are fabricating lies. We have eyewitnesses, including civilians, who are ready to testify about what happened that day.”
Deaconess Rachael Obi, mother of the deceased, who spoke to our correspondent in Warri on Thursday, could not hold her back tears.
The grieving mother, who said she was contacted by her son’s friend, Sodiq, before embarking on the journey to Sango-Ota, asked rhetorically: “How come somebody who has only spent a week in a state he was visiting for the first time just turned out to be a notorious criminal as alleged by the police PPRO, Mr Abimbola Opeyemi?
Mrs Obi said there was no video of her son Chinedu, holding the axe they alleged he used to vandalise the vehicles and there was no video showing the action of him destroying the vehicles. According to her, “they only forged the video showing broken screen of vehicles to cover up the video of his gruesome murder.”
She also said that after her son was arrested, no call came from the police to inform the family of the deceased›s arrest, adding that it was Sodiq (Chinedu›s friend) who called the family that he had been arrested and after the call, the family placed a call to the police station and were told that Chinedu was sleeping unknown to them that he had been killed three days earlier.
The father of the deceased, Elder Benedict Obi, who also spoke to our correspondent amid tears, lamented the gruesome murder of his promising son.
“As the father of Chinedu, this incident has made my heart and that of my wife to bleed. We have been weeping because of our son who we know to be very innocent, kind and lovely, who had no record of any criminal act at all either at home or in school; everyone can testify.
“When this thing happened, it pricked us that they gave the wrong image of our son and even the family; it has been a heartbreaking incident. Though we have been communicating on phone, I last saw my son in April 2019 when he came for our 30 years wedding anniversary. All my children came: five of them. Now we are having just four left,” he lamented amid tears.
Meanwhile, the Conference for the Actualization of Human Rights, led by its national coordinator and secretary, Omemiroro Ogedegbe, Esq., and Austine Ozobo, has petitioned the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Muhammed Adamu, to institute an investigation into the extra-judicial killing of late Chinedu Obi by policemen attached to the Sango Divisional Police Station for justice to prevail.
The Warri-based human rights body at a press briefing in Warri, said the late Obi’s parents represented by Gabriel Iluma, Efe Tutikpoma Fredrick and Mrs Anita Okumagba, who had earlier petitioned the IGP through the office of Balogun & Balogun, urged the IGP to set up a high powered and dispassionate investigation into the killing and bring the culprits to book.
The group raised nine posers for the police authorities to ponder on, arguing that the deceased was shot in the right buttock not the leg as alleged by the police.
The posers raised by the human rights group were, among others: was he (Obi) accused of a capital offence? Did he resist arrest? What effort was made to isolate him or put him on leg chains when he went berserk? At what point did the suspect remove the handcuff to pick an axe to destroy the vehicles and what part of the body was he shot?
The human rights group therefore gave the IGP seven days to embark on a thorough investigation into the matter or brace up for further legal actions.