THE EXTRAJUDICIAL, SUMMARY AND ARBITRARY EXECUTION OF CHIEF OGBE ONOKPITE: A CALL FOR THE PERPETRATORS TO BE BROUGHT TO IMMEDIATE JUSTICE.
This world press conference by us, a group of Conscientious Deltans is to invite the attention and intervention of the President of the Government of Nigeria, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, the National Assembly, well meaning Nigerians and the international community to the grave concerns of Deltans about what look like state and police sponsored and organized assassination of Chief Ogbe Onokpite, a very successful businessman, principled opposition leader, politician, husband, father and a vibrant young Deltan, a true Deltan, the pride of the irrepressible Uvwie Youths, who came, saw, fought and refused to be quiet in the face of tyranny. A detribalized Deltan who was cleared by the State Security Service (SSS) and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and indeed contested twice for the position of Governor of Delta State as a candidate of the Citizens Peoples Party (CPP) in Delta State Governorship election in 2007 and January 2011 gubernatorial elections against the current Governor of Delta State, Dr. Emmanuel Ewetan Uduaghan. On November 26, 2011, Chief Ogbe Onokpite hotel was invaded by civilians and police security personnel who shot his two legs and thereafter took him away to the Police Area Command, Warri, where he was thoroughly beaten to stupor, dehumanized, strapped completely naked, humiliated, shot on both legs and then summary executed. He was then scorned upon and photographed naked and pasted online for the whole world to see him as a common criminal.
The Commissioner of Police, Delta State Command, Mr. Ibrahim Tsafe then came out to report to on the day of the assassination that they had intelligence that Chief Onokpite was in the process of purchasing arms and he was intercepted and he was killed during exchange of gun fire, he later made a volte face to say Chief Onokpite and his 'accomplices were ambushed by the police detectives who were deployed in the hotel from the Area Command of the Nigeria Police Force, Warri while he was negotiating for arms in the hotel...he further said that “as he (Chief Ogbe) was coming down from the hotel we asked him to surrender but he declined to surrender, instead he confronted the police in company with his men”. The CP said that a gun duel ensued and “in the process, Onokpite sustained injury and he died before help could get to him in the hospital”.
Many of us are concerned about the lies of the police account. The question we raise here immediately is who set up Chief Onokpite? Who provided the 'intelligence' – is it not the same state government that has being hounding him? Is Chief Onokpite not a political rival of the State Governor? Was Chief Onokpite not actually shot in his hotel unarmed? Is the hotel not owned by a popular P.D.P chieftain? Was he not beaten to stupor and tortured rabidly at back of the Area Commander‟s office and his corpse dumped there? Did he not bleed to death behind the Area Commander‟s office? Who drove the Hilux pick up used for the operation from and back to the Police Area Command? Who own the Hilux Pick up? Who is Jide?
Here are some facts made available to us after the murder:
Chief Ogbe Onokpite delivered his Uvwie Local Government Area of Delta State, which was predominantly the State Government political enclave before the April 2011 elections to Chief Great Ogboru's Democratic People‟s Party (DPP). He wrestled the Delta State House of Assembly seat from the former incumbent who is from the government party and replaced him through the General Election of April 2011 with the DPP candidate and trashed the current Government party in the Governorship Election by delivering about 36,000 votes to Chief Great Ogboru's against the Governor‟s about 6,000 votes.
Thereafter, following instruction from above, Chief Ogbe Onokpite was arrested during result collation at INEC premises in Asaba on April 26, 2011 (the Governor Election Day) after he challenged the manipulation of results that were being collated at the centre, he was immediately hounded to the nearest judge/ court and thrown into Okere Maximum Prison, Warri on a trump up charge of murder for over 2 months. Chief Onokpite submitted himself courageously to all manners of humiliating investigations during this period until he was acquitted and the case was discharged and dismissed.
After Chief Onokpite was released from prison the state government and the anointed candidate by state government party for positioned of the next Uvwie Local Government Chairman and their accomplices are said to have become jittery that if Chief Onokpite remain alive, the dream of winning back the local government will never be fulfilled until something is done to curb the perceived political albatross, Chief Onokpite whom they know to be the Uvwie political colossus. All efforts thereafter to get a highly principled Onokpite to play ball failed.
This is where we believe that the last minute arrangement to set him up for a trump up allegations of gun running, armed robbery and kidnapping to effectively assassinate him was hatched and eventually organized and sponsored by the state government with the full cooperation of the Police Area Command, Warri. We believe that the entire operation was masterminded by one of the state government big boy because like the voice of Jacob and the hand of Esau, the entire operations was coordinated by one of his dare devil executioner, a dismissed soldier “Jide” who personally drove the State Government Security Hilux provided by his master and loaded with policemen provided by Police Area Commander Warri.
They then invaded his hotel premises in commando style where Chief Onokpite was thoroughly beaten, dehumanized, strapped naked, humiliated, shot on both legs and then killed. Thereafter he was photographed naked and pasted online for the whole world to see him as a common criminal. This is exactly what we believe happened to Chief Ogbe Onokpite as the story has been told.
The questions that emanate from this well orchestrated barbaric extrajudicial and summary execution are:
1. When and was any petition received by the police in respect of this allegation that was earlier investigated?
2. Assuming the late Chief Ogbe Onokpite actually deals with arms or committed any the crime, does that give the CP, Area Commander and „Jide‟ the rights to assassinate him, albeit gruesomely?
3. Assuming he was a gun-runner, so he was beaten and tortured before he was shot dead?
4. If what is reported is true, must the police take the law into their own hands?
5. If what is reported is true, then why did the Police took his body all the way to Warri Area Command office about 13 kilometers away when the Orhuworun Divisional Police Headquarter State is less than a kilometer away?
6. If what is reported is true, why did the police not rush him to Orhuworun General Hospital also about a kilometer away from the incident venue?
The extrajudicial execution of Chief Ogbe Onokpite has been laced with endless lies by the police and the state government, but they have left more gaps and questions than facts. The CP Delta State within 24 hours of this summary and arbitrary execution goofed and painted two contradictory scenarios about this dastardly unlawful killing.
Chief Onokpite is widely known for his strong and constructive criticism of the Delta State Government over corruption, ineptitude, bad governance, injustice and lack of development.
Delta State is vastly one of Nigeria‟s most dangerous states for critics: several critics of the state government have been silenced, raped, discriminated upon, sacked, dismissed, impoverished, ostracized, sidelined, implicated in murder, robbery, and others have been slain in targeted killing operations and arranged road accidents, kidnapping and abduction. There has been a lamentable degree of impunity in the state since 2007.
It is extremely shameful that because of it complicity, the state government has not been able to come out with any official statement, neither have they ever recognized that there are several human rights violations in the state including this severe one and other ongoing illegal killings, “police checkpoint /vigilante justice” militias operations and other death squads.
We call on the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, GCFR, to direct the Inspector General of Police to:
1. Suspend with immediate effect, the Commissioner of Police, Delta State for his role in this extrajudicial execution of Chief Onokpite.
2. Immediate suspension, arrest and prosecution of the Police Area Commander, Warri and the „questionable team‟, for their neck deep complicity in this extrajudicial execution.
3. Immediate arrest and prosecution of the Mr. „Jide‟ and his boss Mr. Ayiri Emami, the Aspirant for Uvwie Local Government Chairmanship Mr. Henry Baro who has been on the run together with his group for their neck deep involvement in this extrajudicial execution.
4. Urge the IG Monitoring Team from Abuja and the Police authorities to invite independent forensic experts to assist in the investigation and ensure that any
prosecutions that are brought are solidly supported by all available forensic and other evidence.
5. Commission a Judicial Panel for an independent probe into the assassination of Chief Ogbe Onokpite. For the inquiry to be credible, it must be independent of the Delta State Government officials and Delta State Police Command officials, it must be given full legal authority to investigate, and its final report must be made public. It must be able to interview all key witnesses, including civilian, police and military personnel, the hotel owner and members of staff and that it should have access to all photographs, video and other records of the incident, including those confiscated from civilians. The Judicial Panel must be given a genuine capacity to find the facts or it would not be credible.
We further call on Mr. President and on all well meaning Nigerian, Nigeria institutions and all international agencies in particular, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Center for Human Rights and Global Justice, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, all embassies and high commissions in Nigeria and world leaders to condemn this barbaric assassination and take steps to ensure that the perpetrators are brought to immediate justice.
We believe that injustice to one is injustice to all.