A fresh graduate of Ambrose Alli University, Godsent Obhafuoso, recently died after being shot by a policemen at a party in Edo. The elder brother of the deceased, Michael, tells ADEYINKA ADEDIPE police authorities are trying to cover up the case
What is your name and your relationship with the deceased?
I am Michael Obhafuoso. I am the elder brother of the deceased, Godsent Obhafuoso.
When and how did the sad event happen?
On August 13, 2022, my younger brother, Godsent Obhafuoso, accompanied his boss, Augustine Iyoha, to the burial ceremony of his mother-in-law at Utako Community, Uromi, Edo State. In the course of the event, Godsent was assisting his boss to video the ceremony with his mobile phone. When the bag used to keep the money being sprayed on Iyoha got filled, Godsent told the lady picking the money, Eghonghon Osekponor, to go drop that particular bag and get another. So, while the lady was away, Godsent was helping to pick the money. It was at that point that a certain guest by name Sunday Obhanogho, aka Abacha, arrived with a police escort, Inspector Aremere Inetiabor, who was at the time of the incident at the Area Command, Irrua, came out to spray money on the celebrant. Then the policeman that accompanied him to the function started shooting; and unfortunately, a bullet hit the cameraman in the shoulder while another hit Godsent in the rib.
How did the family take the news, especially your father and mother?
Unfortunately, we lost our father in 2017 and now the untimely death of the last child of the family, who is much loved by everyone. This came to everyone of us as a big shock. It has been difficult for my mother to cope and come to terms with this loss. The incident has terminated her joy and peace of mind. Godsent graduated from Ambrose Alli University, where he studied Business Administration. The unfortunate incident happened just a month after his graduation.
The deceased must have shared some of his dreams with you. What were his plans?
While he was still in the university, Godsent told us his dream was to travel to the United Kingdom to further his education immediately after his National Youth Service Corp programme. He also reminded our mother of it on Friday August 12, 2022 before travelling to join the boss at Irrua and from there they went to the burial ceremony where he met his untimely death.
What did the family do after the incident?
We reported the matter to the police division at Uromi. The matter was later transferred to the state police headquarters.
What have the police done so far?
On Sunday, August 14, the police from Uromi Division went to Irrua to arrest Obhanogho but he was not available. But when contacted through phone, he said he was on a journey to Benin with his boss. He later said his boss wanted to speak with the police officer and it was discovered that the said boss is the Area Commander of the Police Division in Irrua under whose command the killer police officer is serving. The Area Commander told the police officers from Uromi Division that he would bring Obhanogho to them when they returned from the journey in the evening. My eldest sister, who was the complainant at the Uromi Division, kept calling to know if Obhanogho had been brought to the station but the response she kept getting was that Obhanogho was not yet in their custody. When she called again on Monday, August 15 in the evening, she was told that Obhanogho arrived in the afternoon but the Area Commander kept shielding both Obhanogho and Inetiabor. The Police Command said the killer cop came to the station and fled. They also said he was not on duty at the time of the incident.
How did the case get transferred to Benin?
Early morning on Wednesday, August 17, 2022, I was with my counsel filling a petition to AIG Zone 5 when I got information that Obhanogho had been arrested and taken to the Force Headquarters in Benin. On Monday, August 29, 2022, the petition was handed over to the anti-vice department at AIG Zone 5 for investigation. I was told to pay N200,000 as mobilisation fee to enable them to go to the scene of the crime, make arrest and bring anyone connected with my brother’s death to Benin. At that point, I told them that Obhanogho had submitted himself for arrest in Uromi. But the IPO said they still had to go and carry out investigation in Uromi and Irrua. So, I paid the N200,000 mobilisation fee. As I was still with the anti-vice department, I got a call from my sister who told me that she got a call from the Uromi Division and getting there she was asked to get ready to follow them to the police headquarters in Benin where the case was transferred to. She gave the police officers my mobile number to contact me as soon as they get to Benin. When they got to Benin, my brother’s boss had to make a statement as the complainant in Benin after which Obhanogo was detained at the homicide department. The anti-vice department at AIG Zone 5 sent signals to the homicide department at the state police headquarters to transfer the case to the AIG Zone 5, which the homicide department, after acknowledging the signal ,failed to do. Instead, they released Obhanogho three days later without the department inviting any member of the family of the deceased.
What did you do when you heard that Obhanogho had been released?
When I heard that, I tried to call the IPO but found out that the number he gave my late brother’s boss was that of another officer. Later, Iyoha was able to get his contact through another officer from the state headquarters. When I told Inspector Imade that the suspect that was transferred had been released, he said they would have to arrest him by themselves but they never did. To my greatest shock, the suspect, Obhanogho, who was released by the state headquarters, in an attempt to disrupt the case, filed a petition to the anti-human trafficking department of the AIG Zone 5 alleging that Iyoha was misleading the police by saying he (Obhanogho) was the person that came with the police to the function. So on September 12, a team of policemen from the anti-human trafficking department went down to Irrua and arrested Iyoha.
What other steps did you take as the case took an unexpected twist?
When I got the call from Irrua, I called Inspector Imade but he said he knew nothing about the arrest. We later found out that it was officers from the anti-human trafficking department who arrested Iyoha. On getting to the Assistant Commissioner’s office the following day, I explained what happened to the officers there and that it was a murder case. They released Iyoha and on September 20, I travelled with them to Irrua where witnesses testified that Obhanogho was the one who came with the policeman who killed my brother. But till date, no arrest has been made.
What are the issues around the autopsy carried out on your brother’s copse?
At a point, we were told that a post-mortem examination had to be carried out on my brother’s body and that the family would have to buy a form for N20,000. We were also told we had to pay for the autopsy at the Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital. The family paid for the form and we were ready to pay the N150,000 fee demanded for the autopsy, so we could lay our late brother to rest. Surprisingly, the IPO tried all he could to make sure the post-motem examination was never carried out. But finally, the post-molten examination was done on Thursday, December 8, 2022 and our late brother was laid to rest on December 19, 2022.
So, are you saying that no one is in police custody as we speak over the murder of your brother?
No one is in police custody. Even the police officer that killed my brother is said to be on the run but we are sure he is being shielded by the authorities.
Did you say you have written a petition to the IG?
The family filed a petition to the IG on October 31, 2022, which was acknowledged and sent to AIG Zone 5 on November 4, 2022 to intervene in the case. Despite the acknowledgment by the IG, nothing has been done. The police are footing-dragging because their colleague is involved
So what support has your late brother’s boss given to your family so far?
He has been helping with the information we need and he has also been talking to Inspector Imade to do the needful. He also supported the family during the burial of my late brother in the little way he could.
What kind of support do you think your family needs at this time?
The support we need at the moment is for well-meaning Nigerians and concerned authorities to assist us in our quest to get justice for the late Godsent.