TONGUES are wagging in Calabar, Cross River State, over why the police are yet to arraign in court a dismissed staff of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, who allegedly shot dead a 22-year-old secondary school leaver, Douglas Ochaga Ojugbo, on March 10, for hitting it off with his daughter. Health officials from Calabar Urban Development Authority, CUDA, buried the remains of Douglas, who was preparing to write his 2015 JAMB-UTME examination, in a shallow grave on the orders of the Divisional Police Officer, DPO, in the area without identifying him. The DPO said the killer informed the police that Douglas was an armed robber, who came to rob him in his house.
‘It’s cock and bull story’
However, family of the deceased described the claim by the police and their son’s killer as a cock and bull story. Mother of the slain boy, Mrs. Maria Ogar Ojugbo, a director at the Fishery Unit, Ministry of Agriculture, Calabar, told Niger Delta Voice that her son went to collect money for a mini-notebook he sold to the man’s daughter, Mercy, when the assailant killed him.
Father of the deceased, Mr. Ogar Ojugbo, in a petition to the Inspector General of Police, said his son was not a robber and that the former NNPC staff killed him in cold blood because he was having an amorous relationship with his daughter. He asserted: “My son is 22 years old. Sometime this year, he sold his used mini-laptop to the daughter of the suspect, who leaves with him at his River Basin Authority home. The daughter made a part payment of the agreed sum leaving a balance.
“My son had been visiting the home of the suspect to collect or recover the balance of his money. The suspect, not pleased with the boy’s presence, inquired or demanded to know what he was doing in his house. “My son tried to explain to him his transaction with his daughter. Without any effort to verify the boy’s story, he asked him to leave his house and warned him never to visit his house again.
“My son was about leaving when his daughter asked my son to come on March 10 and collect the balance of his money. On the said day, my son went to the house hoping to see his daughter as they agreed, but unfortunately he saw the suspect.
“The suspect, on sighting my son, ran into his room and fetched his gun. Douglas, on sighting him with a gun, took to his heels to save his life. “However, having made up his mind to kill my son, he pursued him until he caught up with him at the gate of Basin Authority, a distance of a kilometre from his house. “He shot my son first on the leg as a result of which Douglas fell down and to accomplish his goal, he shot him the second time on the arm to make sure that my son is dead.
“Furthermore, the suspect having accomplished his goal bundled the body of the late Douglas into a police van and took same to the Divisional Police Officer of Federal Housing Police station. “He conspired with the police to get rid of the body of Douglas in order to conceal his death.”
When Niger Delta Voice visited the Federal Housing Police Station, the DPO, Mr. Mike Ezeweren opened up: “I got a call from one of my patrol officers, who said an armed robbery suspect was being brought in. “I called the control unit informing them that a suspect was apprehended at the Basin Authority area. When the patrol team came, I saw somebody at the back of the pick-up van and they brought him down.
“Under such circumstance, when a suspected armed robber is killed, we heave a sigh of relief because we refer to the deceased as minus one. They brought along with him some iron bender and a locally-made pistol and told me an angry mob seized him. The suspect was there with the mob. “He said he was in his compound, a twin flat, when he heard dog barking from the other end and that when he sought to find out why the dog was barking, he saw someone rushing out from the sitting room of the other flat.
“He said the suspect (Douglas) threatened him with the machete he was holding, but he retreated to his flat and brought out his double-barrelled gun with which he shot the suspect. “He said after the shooting, the suspect still managed to scale through the fence in a bid to escape but when people around heard the shout of thief, they responded and pursued him, brought him down and continued battering him before they even called the police.
“At that point, I sought to know the boy’s identity but nobody knew him in which case it was an unidentified corpse. I then told my men to take the statement from the suspect, who acted on self-defense, after which I contacted the health authorities to come and convey the corpse out of our premises. “The corpse was unidentified and besides I cannot raise N35,000 to deposit in the mortuary for an unidentified corpse. Under what sub-head will I even tag that money or do they expect me to use my salary? “It was that reason that made me to call the health authorities to go and dispose of it in their own way.”
Police know nothing about boyfriend/girlfriend affair
The DPO also said: “I do not know anything about this issue of girlfriend and boyfriend. The man said the boy came to rob in one of his flats with iron bar and threatened him with it. “Therefore, it was a case of robbery; it was even the mob that first said the man shot the boy and the man later confirmed that he actually shot the boy. “If there is anything in the matter, they should not face the police, they should face the man that shot him and the man is not on the run.”
On the hasty burial of Douglas, the DPO said: “Where do you expect me to keep the corpse when I do not have the financial backup to send the body to mortuary? We have health authority that we call upon at any time to dispose unidentified corpse. “Where they would have faulted me is if someone had come to identify the corpse and I still went ahead to the health authorities to bury the corpse. I did not follow the health authorities to where they took the corpse.
“We normally call them to come and dispose corpses, especially unidentified ones. At every point in this whole encounter, I communicated with the Commissioner of Police and also sent signals.”
Suspect warned deceased—Neighbour
A neighbour of the suspect told Niger Delta Voice that the suspect’s daughter, Mercy, and Douglas were friends and the suspect had warned Douglas a number of times to stop coming to his house before the tragedy. The neigbour said: “The man had warned the boy not to come near the daughter again, but the two of them could not keep away from each other and we hear that it was because of the relationship between the boy and the girl that the man decided to take that horrible action.
“On that fateful afternoon, we saw the man running after the boy, who was panting and running but the man caught up with him around the Basin Authority gate and shot him with a gun. “After shooting him, he called the police that he had shot an armed robber. All of us were running for our dear lives because the man is dangerous and everyone around knows him for that.”
Mrs. Ojugbo, however, bemoaned that the suspect was bragging in a cozy room at the police clinic, where police kept him, that nothing would happen to him.