Residents of the Owa-Alizomor community in the Ika North-East Local Government Area of Delta State have alleged that negligence on the part of police officers caused the death of a yet-to-be-identified man.
Some members of the community told FIJ that the death of the man was preventable had officers from the Owa-Oyibu Divisional Headquarters, intervened when complaints concerning the deceased were first brought to their notice when he was still alive.
According to them, the deceased who is suspected to be a victim of kidnap was dumped at the school with rope marks all over his body on February 8 after which the police station was briefed but with delay on the part of the officers, the victim was found dead the following morning.
A youth leader from the community narrated, “A few of us, who happen to be members of Owa-Alizomor community, saw the man’s semi-conscious body in front of Owa-Alizomor Secondary School gate and immediately went to the Owa-Oyibu station to report it.
“After they received our complaint, they told us they would take action, but they never did. This was on the evening of February 8.
“The following morning, which happened to be February 9, the entire village woke up to find out that the man, who was still alive when we went to the station to report, was now dead. He was actually beheaded.”
Another indigene of the village stated: “The man looked like he was dumped in front of the school. He was too weak and exhausted to move, and he also had rope marks on his wrists. He looked pretty much like a kidnap victim.
“Even after the police were duly notified of the incident, they did not take any immediate action to assist him, when he was still alive. It was after the man’s headless body was discovered, still around the school premises, on the next day, that they came around to carry his corpse.
“This is probably someone’s husband, dad, brother and son. There is also a very strong possibility that his relatives would have been looking for him too. His gruesome murder could have been avoided.”
However, Patience Bianze, the principal of Owa-Alizomor Secondary School, gave a contrasting account of the incident.
“The story making the rounds is not true. At no point was the man seen around the school premises a day before his corpse was discovered,” she told FIJ.
“The first thing I did when I came to school on February 9 was to organise a morning assembly for the students. It was after the assembly that the security men at the school gate came to inform me that a beheaded corpse had been left beside the school premises.”
The principal said after seeing the corpse herself, she immediately informed some members of the vigilante group in the community.
“The vigilante members then accompanied me to the palace of the Oparaku of the community, so we could inform him as well. After this, I called my superiors at the Ministry of Education to let them know what was going on as well.”
The principal said she subsequently went to the Owa-Oyibu Divisional Headquarters to report the matter.
“After taking statements from me and the security officials that were with me, they came with me to the school to take away the man’s body,” Bianze said.
The corpse has since been deposited in the Morgue at the Central Hospital in Owa-Alero, a place not too far from Owa-Alizomor.
Another indigene from the community has however given reasons why the principal’s account of the incident was different from what many indigenes believed to have happened.
“You know, the principal is a lady and there is every possibility that she might have been threatened by the police in Owa-Oyibu to tell a different story whenever she is approached by members of the press,” the indigene said.
“How come it is only the principal’s account that is different? Or is it that everybody else in the community, who confirmed that the man had been alive before he was beheaded, doesn’t know what they are saying?
“The officers at Owa-Oyibu are notorious for not doing their job the way they should. The ugly incident could have been averted if they had done their job.”
The residents of the community also expressed fears over future indiscriminate arrests by the police over the incident.
“We pray they don’t start arresting and harassing us over the incident in the coming days. The only thing they know how to do best is to harass innocent people,” one of the indigenes said.
When SaharaReporters contacted the spokesperson for the Delta State Police Command, he said the case was only reported to the police after the person had already been killed.
He said while details of the incident are not clear, it is however assumed that the victim was killed somewhere and possibly dumped at the school as there were no blood traces in any part of the school.
He said, “The problem is that people try to discredit the police, they look for every opportunity to discredit the police. Now, what was observed, the only time that matter was reported; it was reported by the principal of the school and PTA chairman of the school. At the time the he was noticed, the victim had already been beheaded and there were no bloodstains in the school to show that he was there, the head had already dried off.
“It is assumed that he was killed somewhere and dumped at the school so if someone said they saw him alive in the school and reported, then that person knows about the death. The person should come out. There are people who benefit when they discredit the name of the police.”