Last week, gory images of a dead ten year old boy, Somtochukwu Ibeanusi, in Owerri, Imo State of Nigeria graced us. More are still been released. His parents narrated that he was shot in the eye by the security men who came with the Imo State governor, Rochas Okorocha, in the supervision of the demolition of the Eku-Ukwu market in Douglas Road, Owerri. As the demolition was going on, he, alongside his sister, was asked by their father, Isaiah Ibeanusi, to help take out some goods from their shop before the demolition destroys all their means of livelihood. And that was how somebody in the team of Policemen, Soldiers, etc, whose duty, in any civilised and functional democracy, is the safeguard of lives and property, released the bullet that passed through this little boys eye to make a horrific hole at the back his head.
“I told my little son to come and assist me remove my goods from the shop before the people demolishing the market got to the place. “When we were crossing the road we all raised our hands up but these soldiers just drove by and opened fire and shot my son in the head. The bullet hit him in the eye and came out from the back of his head and he fell and died. I want justice. I don’t want the killers of my son to go unpunished. He was just a little boy, he was not armed. I don’t know if I can bear this”
Mr Isaiah Ibeanusi
I was listening to a Radio Station, Hot 99.5 FM Owerri, in 2011 when I heard these words: “Four Years is even too much. Give me just two years…”. It was the voice of the then candidate and flag bearer of the All Progressive Grand Alliance, APGA, Chief Rochas Okorocha. The gubernatorial election was just few weeks away and he was doing what he knows how to do best. In my naivety and that of other Imolites, I believed him and we moved like sheeple to vote him in. Not only was he voted for, the people monitored the movement of the ballot boxes to prevent any foul play in the hands of the then Governor, Chief Ikedi Ohakim.
On the day his victory was announced, the people took to the streets, celebrating and thanking God for delivering them from the torturous hands of ‘Ikiri’. Ohakim worked in his favour, even if unconsciously. The beginning of his end as governor was brought to light when the story that he ordered his aide to slap a Reverend father circulated. Their were also tapes in circulation in Owerri at the time, where his wife, Lady Chioma Ohakim, barked that anyone without a million naira should leave the capital, Owerri, and go back to the village. Despite the fact that Owerri wore the clean and green looks, smelled of serenity and oozed of the usual highlife, the then PDP man, was booted out largely to his overt show of disdain for human lives. That was how we got here.
The grief in the family of that little boy killed by our security men, or better put, Rochas’s men, has been communal. There have been stories that two other persons died as a result of these bombardments of simple market people trying to make a living. Some report said five deaths were recorded. Others wrote seven, though, there is no strong confirmation to support these other claims. This little boy’s only offense was trying to move his parents goods out of the store. He didn’t protest against the security men. He didn’t attempt to fight or defend his parents territory. His parents didn’t do that either but he was given a warning shot by a bullet passing through his eye. No remorse has been shown or was shown.
The Governor’s Chief Press Secretary, Sam Onwuemeodo released a statement hailing the demolition as a great step towards getting Owerri clean and better again. Nothing was said of the persons that were injured and died as a result. Nothing was said about an alternative or temporary site for these people whose businesses, homes and families were destroyed and murdered by the government they voted. The government showed, through the statement they released and the actions they encouraged, that they have no respect for citizens lives. The statement partly reads:
“This is to inform the general Public that Ekeukwu Market Owerri has finally been moved from its Current location at the centre of Owerri, the State Capital, to its new location at Ohi near Owerri AMID JUBILATION by patriotic residents…”
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Note the words “AMID JUBILATION”. Doesn’t this add salt to the injury sustained by these families as a result of the demolition? None of the photos shared on social media and captured on video camera showed any jubilation. It will take a great level of insanity for anyone to jubilate at that moment. If the people were really happy and supported the madness that happened that day what exactly was the point of carrying all the various security outfits in Imo State to the site? A defense was made on the State government’s side that no one died and the story of the ten year old boy was a blackmail. The Commissioner of Police, Mr Ezike, repeated this same line on AIT’s morning show Kakaaki yesterday. This was arrived at by the commissioner by conducting no investigation. This was arrived at by men who sat in their offices and got the feeling and state of the people outside. Nothing has been said to condole with the family or other families and the people are supposed to be more powerful than their governments in any sane democracy? This is madness!
“How can they say that nobody died in the incident, when my only son is now lying in the morgue of the Federal Medical Centre, FMC, Owerri? This is very sad.
“My 10-year-old son and his sister were religiously carrying out my instructions of moving our wares to a safe place,” adding that not long after, news that somebody had been killed rented the air.
“I went looking for the children I left behind. Behold, I spotted Somtochukwu at Mbaise Road, where he was lying in a pool of his blood. I picked him up and rushed him to FMC, where a doctor on duty confirmed him dead.” ‘I told my Bishop’ He said after depositing the boy’s corpse at FMC morgue, he went to complain to Archbishop Anthony Obinna at Maria Assumpta Cathedral, Owerri. According to him, “I am a native of Umudim, Nnewi, Anambra State. How can I tell this horrible story to my people that my son was shot in his head for committing no known crime? I am really devastated.”
The site that was demolished has been in the news for a long time. Their is a court order restraining the state government from demolishing the place and this hasn’t gone down well with the Governor and his team members. The amount of refuse in the place, usually taken away by the state’s sanitary team, have been purposely left to deteriorate the place. The Governor has showed that it is either his wish is granted, even though there is a court order that didn’t allow it, or he punishes them how he deems fit. And refuse was a good tool in achieving that the last time. He has acted like a God transcending foolish mortal laws. About a year ago, the same Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Mr Sam Onwuemeodo, made the statement:
“Government deliberately abandoned the refuse along Douglas Road, Owerri, to get back at Owerri people who have been battling the state government, over the relocation of the market. Owerri people must be made to understand that they cannot eat their cake and have it. There is a court order restraining government from tampering with the market and this also explains why we left the refuse.”
This is a disgrace. This is a heartless act. This is unlawful. This is also immoral. But to Rochas and his team, none of these is evident here. He left the same man who made the statement that a government is deliberately punishing a particular area of a State because they went to court to challenge and put to a halt any attempt at demolishing the place. The only reason he was allowed to continue is simply because Rochas Okorocha, the Governor sanctioned it. He was the brain behind such utterance and this same man loves to feign philanthropy. He loves to show how he loves the people by playing to the Gallery. If he is not buying Akara or corn on the Roadside he is helping fry some plantain on the road with his team of cameramen.
The same Rochas has tortured the lives of Pensioners in the state. He cancelled some years debt they are owned and still slashed their current take home. He is breaking the cord that binds the people of Imo State. Locking, through his actions, the heads of Okigwe Zone, Owerri Zone, and Orlu Zone. This man also harbours the ambition to be the President of Nigeria. I have seen so much illogic in this country that I won’t be surprised if he becomes President one day. This man claims to offer free education and outsiders applaud not knowing it is another scam. I remember passing through Nekede Polytechnic to the sight of roads being tarred. I walked past that road a month later only see red mud everywhere. Miracle right?
If a temporary place was provided for them before the unlawful demolition occurred it would have had a human face. If affected persons were compensated before the demolition was sanctioned it would have had a human face. That is what any government that really cares about her people will do but not Rochas. He is a man that says more than he acts. If he had not tricked Imolites into deifying him, the platform to operate such wickedness wouldn’t have been provided. What were the soldiers, policemen and other paramilitary men doing at the site on that day? Is there no better thing to do than wait for a civilian who will mess up and be rewarded with a bullet?
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Part of the reason for demolishing that market was the claim that hoodlums and criminals have taken over the place. This is a very poor, illogical and myopic argument. Should we burn the entire house because their is a rat in the room? If a group of criminals were to take over Douglas House, Owerri, will the Governor employ the same tactics? In 2011, Rochas was at that market campaigning for votes from these same people. At what point did the man realise that the people whose votes he begged for were hoodlums and criminals? When did he realise that the place needs to be destroyed to lift the face of Owerri and Imo State? How do we respond when a Governor goes against court order to destroy the life of citizens? Honestly speaking, is their any difference between what Rochas did and what criminals, thieves and murderers do?
Everyday in this country, we make citizens angry in the name of trying to establish peace. By we’ here I am referring to the government who have shown that force is the solution to every problems. What these men in position of power are doing is nurturing more problems for the State and country. You don’t swear to live by the laws of the land but when you are displeased by the outcome of a particular judgement, you abuse the same law. The fact that people do not demand for resignation and prosecution of such leaders is a mental problem. Through mind programming, we’ve been brainwashed to see such abuse of power as just a little step above the law and justice. We ought to see it as the institution of cannibalism.
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That little boy died because Rochas was prepared to achieve his aim through cannibalism. He was prepared to handle whoever stands in his way or his tractors. He did that because he knows he will get away with it. He invited the police and military men with sophisticated weapons in a fistfight. Who will arrest him for breaking the law and doing something highly immoral? Who will compensate the families of the injured and deceased and how? What exact actions will help them forgive the man whose ego led to the destruction of their properties? Who achieves peace by making a thousand genuinely dissatisfied people? Who will repair their broken hearts and stop the looming depression? Who will invite the Governor for questioning? Who will be fired for the death of that ten year old boy? Who will prevent this from happening again? Obviously, it can’t be Rochas because he is a God and answers to no one.