Vanguard (Lagos)

21 April 2012

Nigeria: Prison Warder Allegedly Killed By Police Officer While Celebrating New Car

Yenagoa — If only he had listened to the plea of his wife after returning from an all night wake keep that he should retire to bed for some rest, perhaps the tragic shooting that claimed his life would have been averted and his heart broken wife would not have been turned into a widow at her young age and left to cater for their six old child.

The deceased, Erezidor Ugo, a Prison Inspector, aged 30, is an indigene of Sabageria in the Kolokuma-Opokuma local government area of Bayelsa State while his wife, Mrs. Binafegha Ugo, a PA3 aged 25 is also a staff of the Bayelsa State Prison Command.

The Ugos it was learnt were so close, having lived together as a couple for almost ten years before tragedy struck last Sunday when the late Erezidor, a vivacious young man loved by both the old and young around the Nikton road suburb of Kpansia was cut down in his prime by a flying bullet during a mild scuffle.

There were conflicting accounts of the tragic incident .While one version had it that the deceased was killed by a policeman who fired at him, another account stated that he was accidentally killed by a bullet from the rifle of one of his (Prison) colleagues as the police tried to disarm him.

When Saturday Vanguard visited the residence of the deceased close to Wisdom Estate, some distance away from the private residence of President Goodluck Jonathan on Monday morning, the young wife was grief-stricken.

Some neighbours who came to condole the bereaved woman also broke down in tears when the six year old daughter of the deceased, Tari came and asked her sobbing mother, "mummy why has daddy not returned, hope my daddy is okay? Daddy's body was covered with blood when he was taken away," the little girl said naively.

It was a sorrowful moment as his neighbours wept freely, wondering why it should be Erezidor who they described as gentle and easy going and loved by all in the neighbourhood because of his unassuming disposition.

The late Prison warder who had just returned with his wife from a wake keep at Sabageria was playing host to two of his colleagues who had come to celebrate with him on the fateful Sunday over the new car which he (deceased) bought last week when he was shot in the presence of his wife, also a prison official and her six year old daughter.

While the celebration was going on in a sit-out near his house, eye witnesses told Saturday Vanguard that one of the armed prison officials fired some shots into the air which caused panic and pandemonium within the Nikton road axis, in the heart of the state capital.

The gunshots reportedly attracted security attention and a police team led by the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) in-charge of Ekeki Police Station, Nemi Iwo rushed to the scene, few metres away from Jonathan's house. The police team was said to have noticed one of the Prison Warders carrying a gun and tried to disarm him but he allegedly refused to hand over the gun and instead removed the magazine.The deceased Ugo was said to have collected the magazine and took same to his house for safe keep.

An eyewitness said a police corporal had earlier fired a warning shot ostensibly to compel the Prison official to surrender the gun in his possession. It was learnt that as the deceased was returning to the scene of the ensuing struggle to go with the police to the station, one of the rifles triggered off and hit the deceased on the left side of his stomach and pierced through the other side, leaving him in grave danger, eyewitnesses said.

But the deceased, Ugo died on the way to the Glory land Hospital, Yenagoa where he was rushed for treatment.

Relations of the deceased who heard of the incident headed to the hospital, wailing and crying over the death of their brother. In their anger, they took the corpse to the state police command where security men had cordoned off the various entrances to their office, questioning every movement around there.

Mrs. Binafegha Ugo and her six year old daughter, Tari who witnessed the killing in cold blood of their husband and father, were in tears as they relayed their painful ordeal and demanded justice.

"So my husband is dead, eh?" the wailing wife asked rhetorically. "I thought my husband is sleeping. They shot my husband in my presence in front of our house. When my husband fell, I tried to find his car key so that I could rush him to the hospital but I could not find the key. I started shouting for help that my husband is dying but they did nothing. I eventually rushed him to the hospital bleeding profusely but he gave up at the Glory land Hospital."

Reliving the circumstances that led to his death, she said: "We returned from travel yesterday morning (Sunday). After parking the load inside the boot, he told me he wanted to wash his vehicle and I teased him, why is it that every morning you wash your car, why not just use rag to clean it and rest? Is the car a human being that you wash it every morning?

Let us go and sleep because since you have just returned from a journey?" I teased him but he replied me, "why are you jealous and I told him I am not because the car also belonged to me.

"I told him I want to sleep because I am tired," she told Saturday Vanguard. He later came to me to say the police have come to arrest him and that they are struggling with his colleagues outside.

An alarmed Mrs. Ugo said she encouraged him saying, as an officer he should plead with the police to leave his boys since they came to visit him.

The deceased Erezidor's wife explained that as she went with her husband, she saw a policeman dragging a gun with his boys.

"My husband got there and did not say any word but before my eyes, a DPO shot my husband. And I shouted you have killed a fellow uniformed man and the DPO did not answer me. I was shouting for help but nobody came to my assistance.

I told the DPO you have shot my husband let us rush him to the hospital, the only reply the DPO gave me was, I will slap you."

According to her, they had been married for ten years. "I followed him shortly after I left secondary school. Then he did not have work but now my husband is gone. That is the only man that made me happy.

"Is this my world? Where do I start from again? This is the first time I carried a dead body which turned out to be my husband," she sobbed.

Meanwhile the police authorities are not leaving any stone unturned to get to the root of the circumstances surrounding the death of the Prison warder. An impeccable source told Saturday Vanguard that the matter has been reported to Acting Inspector General of Police and that the officers involved have been detained.

Eguavoen Emokpai, the State Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) when contacted said investigations were on-going while the DPO and all others involved in the incident have made useful statements to the state Criminal Investigation Department (CID).

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