In five years, Mama Comfort Mmezi of Amucha Community in Njaba Local Government Area of Imo State has lost two sons to men of the Nigeria Police Force. The grieving octogenarian is demanding justice from the police hierarchy, writes DAMIAN DURUIHEOMA
AN 86-year-old widow and mother of 41-year-old real estate manager, Jude Oguzie Mmezi, who was shot dead by the police on Owerri-Orlu Road, Imo State, is demanding justice.
Oguzie, a father of four, died after he was shot by a policeman in Umuaka -Orodo, Njaba on Saturday, December 5 while he was going to Owerri for a wedding.
The bereaved mother, Mama Comfort Mmezi, said Oguzie’s killing was the second son killed by policemen in five years.
According to her, her late first son and elder brother to Oguzie, Ifeobu Jonathan Mmezi, was also shot and killed by the police in Lagos some five years ago.
The octogenarian, who is demanding justice from the Inspector General of Police and the Commissioner of Police in Imo State, Isaac Akinmoyede over Oguzie’s killing, disclosed that Oguzie was her only hope of living.
She added that the deceased, who lived in Owerri, the state capital with his family, only came home to take her to hospital after a hernia surgery.
Oguzie, who recently returned from Italy, was accosted in his Toyota Camry car by two police officers while coming from his village to Owerri that Saturday morning.
It was learned that while the two policemen gave Oguzie pass after exchanging pleasantries, another vehicle drove past from behind the queue created by the policemen’s check point, thus leading to one of the officers shouting to him to stop.
While the driver refused to stop, another officer, who was said to be busy in the nearby bush, emerged from the bush and shot at Oguzie’s car, thinking it was he that was being ordered to stop.
When the policemen realised that their colleague had shot at and possibly killed a motorist, they quickly fled the scene, leaving Oguzie in the pool of blood.
According to Mama Comfort, it was a good Samaritan that checked on Oguzie’s vehicle and noticed that he was still alive and took him to the Federal Medical Center, Owerri where he was said to have died about two hours later without any medical attention.
Mama Comfort, who spoke amidst sobs to reporters on behalf of the family at her Ndiohiaowere Umuduruaku Umuamusa community home in Njaba, said the police should investigate the officers who shot their bread-winner.
She lamented that the police abandoned Oguzie after shooting him.
“My son returned home because of me. He took me to a hospital where I had a hernia surgery last week. He just came home to take me to the hospital for the removal of the final surgery thread just two days before he was killed on Saturday. That was what brought Oguzie home. He came home to take me to the hospital and decided to sleep for two days at home so that he would observe my progress.
“So, on that Saturday morning, he called his wife and spoke with all his children promising to buy them ice cream on his return to Owerri later day.
“I told him that my kerosene has finished and gave him five litre jerrycan to buy me kerosene when he would be returning from Owerri. Till this moment, I have not seen my son and they’re telling me that he was shot and killed by a police officer for no reason. This is how the same police killed my first son, Ifeobu, in Lagos five years ago. It was my son, Oguzie that consoled me at that. What did I do to police?
“He has never been a trouble maker all his life. Oguzie is the only eye with which I was seeing road. They have killed my only child. They have rendered me blind and useless. That I eat every day is because of him. He has been in Italy for some years and built this house that time. Death should have killed me instead of my only surviving son. Who will take care of his young wife and four children?
“I only need justice from the police hierarchy. They must ensure the four little children left behind by him are looked after and trained well. The IGP and the commissioner of Police must wade in. We want them to cater for the little because I am nearing my grave,” she said.
The Imo State Police Command confirmed the killing, saying that the officers involved had been arrested.
According to a statement issued on behalf of Commissioner of Police Isaac Akinmoyede by the Police Public Relations Officer, Orlando Ikeokwu, the CP wondered why the officers refused to adhere to rules guiding the use of firearms.
According to the statement, the commissioner of police ordered investigation into the matter.
The CP, while sympathising with the family of the deceased, urged them to remain calm, as the Command would do everything possible to ensure that justice is done.
“The Command regrets the killing of the deceased under any guise especially now that the force is doing everything within its powers to put an end to incidents of brutality and incivility to members of the public,” the statement said.
The Owerri branch of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) vowed to sue the three policemen involved in the dastardly act.
The NBA Secretary, Chinedu Agu, said the branch’s human rights committee would institute legal action against the trigger-happy cops, who had been arrested by the state police command.
Agu, who condemned the killing of Oguzie, also condemned what he described as the unprofessional attitude of the staff of the Federal Medical Centre, Owerri, where the deceased was rushed to.
He said: “He (Oguzie) was driving along Umuaka/Orodo road and was shot by policemen of the Stop and Search Squad. The police drove in a Hilux van.
“On realising that they had shot the deceased, the policemen took flight, abandoning the deceased in a pool of blood inside his car.
“The deceased, a native of Amucha in Njaba LGA, Imo State, left home (Amucha) on Saturday en-route to Owerri for a wedding before he met his untimely death in the hands of the trigger-happy policemen.
“It took some angry agitation by youths and sympathisers, who came thirty minutes after my arrival, for the bulky man to be stretchered into the emergency ward from his blood-drenched car.
“While the tardy, laissez-faire, callous attitude of the hospital staff in the Accident/Emergency Ward of the FMC Owerri is condemnable, I humbly call on the human rights committee of the NBA Owerri to rise to the occasion in ensuring that the culprits of this heinous act are brought to book.”