The gruesome murder of the Vice Chairman of Oteri Town in Ughelli, Delta State, Mr. Blessing Unuesefe early in February is still shrouded in mystery and disbelief, more so that his family is still denied access his corpse. JOE OGBODU reports from Warri.
It was a very bright morning when the Vice Chairman of Oteri Town in Ughelli North Local Government Area of Delta State, Mr. Blessing Unuesefe, left his village for Warri.
The day, however, turned dark on his return home, where he met some unknown people being entertained with the local gin by his neighbour, identified as Oriza,.
Upon inquiry for the purpose of their visit, the visitors, who turned out to be agents of death, said they were looking for his boys, but Unuesefe denied knowledge of such boys.
The visitors were not satisfied with his answer, and with the atmosphere already tense, one of them angrily asked him to sit on the floor, a directive Unuesefe declined to obey, insisting that he had done nothing wrong.
In one swift move, one of them brought out a gun and fired a warning shot in the air and, on sensing danger, Unuesefe at as tempted to run to safety, a move that enraged another of the sailants, who blocked his path, while another, with a gun, shot him point blank and he fell in a pool of his own blood.
Like casts acting out a bad movie script, the assailants picked up his body and drove off, but returned a few minutes later, accompanied by men from the Ughelli Police Station, to search Unuesefe’s house. When they were done, they took him to the Central Hospital, Ughelli, where he was confirmed dead and his corpse deposited at the mortuary, just like that.
But the drama was not over: the assailants later went back to the hospital and took his corpse away, which is yet to be released to his family, as of the time of filing this report.
Worried by the circumstances surrounding the alleged murder, the bereaved family petitioned the Inspector General of Police. The petition titled, ‘Petition against the callous and extra-judicial murder of Mr. Blessing Unuesefe, popularly known as Erhio, by the Chairman and members of the Ughelli Vigilance Group and the disappearance of his corpse till date’ was dated February 25, 2015 and signed by D.O. Forae for Barr. Oghenejabor Ikimi, the family lawyer, who was briefed by Madam Edith Unuesefe, eldest sister to the deceased.
According to the petition, “On the 3rd day of February, 2015, two Toyota Hilux vans, occupied by men of the Ughelli Vigilance Group, stormed the premises of Mr. Blessing Unuesefe at Oteri Town and demanded to see him for a peace mission.
“When the said vigilance group could not find Mr. Unuesefe in his house, chairman of the group, one Mr. Monday Ohwesiri, inquired from one Mr. Oriza, a neighbour to the late Unuesefe, about his whereabouts, stressing again that they were on a peace mission and not for trouble.
“The said Mr. Oriza informed the said vigilance group that Mr. Blessing Unuesefe might have travelled to Warri the previous day. The chairman of the said vigilance group, thereafter, requested Mr. Oriza to entertain them, which Mr. Oriza did, by providing them with some local gin.
“While the chairman and his vigilance group members were enjoying themselves with the local gin, provided by their host, Mr. Blessing Unuesefe came and announced his presence, whereupon, the vigilance chairman asked Mr. Blessing Unuesefe of the whereabouts of his ‘boys’ and he replied that he had no ‘boys’.
“The vigilance group chairman, thereafter, ordered Mr. Blessing Unuesefe to sit on the ‘boys’.
“The vigilance group chairman, thereafter, ordered Mr. Blessing Unuesefe to sit on the bare floor, an order Unuesefe vehemently, refused to obey, thus, the said vigilance group chairman fired a gun shot at Mr. Blessing Unuesefe, who, thereafter, ran for dear life. He was however double-crossed and shot again by one Mr. Emmanuel Aruoture, a member of the said group, on the order of the vigilance group chairman.
“The vigilance group chairman, thereafter, took Mr. Blessing Unuesefe into their Toyota Hilux and drove away, but, later returned with some men of the Ughelli Police Station to search the house of the victim, after which the victim was taken by them to the Ughelli Central Hospital, where he was confirmed dead by one of the doctors on duty and the body deposited at the said hospital morgue.
“The corpse was later taken away by the said vigilance group to an undisclosed location, thus, making the whereabouts of the corpse unknown to family members of the deceased till date”, the petition stated.
Ikimi, who is also the Executive Director of Centre for the Vulnerable and the Underprivileged (CENTREP), while condemning the circumstances surrounding the alleged murder by the said vigilance group chairman and his members, called on the IGP to investigate the alleged crime and bring the perpetrators to book.
According to him, men of the Nigeria Police Station, “A” Division, Ughelli, despite the complaint by the bereaved family and an eyewitness, have refused and/or failed to investigate the alleged crime, alleging that the police might have taken sides with the culprits.
Ikimi, in a press release made available to the Daily Times, called on the Inspector General of Police to conduct a comprehensive investigation into the death of Unuesefe, with a view to prosecuting the alleged killers “as the said persons do not have the constitutional responsibilities to bear arms.”