…‘Army, police personnel not above the law’
From CHUKS ONUOHA, Umuahia
The police in Abia State have assured residents of the state that the soldier that shot and killed a young graduate at a wedding reception in a community in the state in January would soon be prosecuted. The police said they had written to the military command in the state to hand over to them for prosecution the soldier, who shot and killed the young man at the reception held at Community Secondary School, Isieke Ibeku in Umuahia North Local Government Area of the state.
Abia State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Ambrose Aisabor, said the suspect had been identified and would be prosecuted once he is handed over to them by the army.
A young graduate in his twenties, who had just finished his youth service and secured employment with a bank where he had worked for only three months, was shot and killed by a soldier at a checkpoint near Community Secondary School, Isieke, while the wedding reception of his cousin, one Angela Egun, was going on.
The deceased, Chibuike Ndubuaku, who was shot at a very close range, did not die on the spot. He, however, died the same evening at the Federal Medical Centre, Umuahia, the state capital.
The Army Public Relations Officer, Ayeni Olabisi Olalekan, told Daily Sun in a telephone interview that the Army was still investigating the matter. “Investigation is still on. I will be in a position to give you details when we must have concluded our investigation. If the soldier is found liable, he will be dealt with according to the law.
It is the result of the investigation that will determine our next line of action,” he said. Mr. Innocent Mmeregini, whose nephew, Chibuike Stephen Nwaneri, from Nekede in Owerri, Imo State, got married to Angela Egun, explained how the unfortunate incident happened to the reporter. He said the traditional marriage rites were done on Friday, January 11 while the white wedding held on Sunday, January 13, at All Saints Anglican Church, World Bank Housing Estate, Umuahia.
“The reception was then scheduled to hold at Community Secondary School, Isieke Ibeku, in Umuahia North Local Government Area of Abia State. We had no premonition that it would turn bloody. “The stage was set as the bride and the bridegroom came out to greet their guests.
But immediately the mother of the bride stepped out to the stage to dance, which is part of the normal traditional rites during a wedding, one lady (names withheld by us) stepped out and a fracas broke out. “The fracas broke out when a distant relation of the bride’s went to the place where the food for the in-laws were kept, opened the coolers and started dishing food for herself. An enraged in-law challenged her action and a fight broke out between her and her challenger, as she slapped one of the in-laws. Another person asked her why she should do that type of a thing and a fight broke out.
“It was not known if anybody invited the soldiers. But our suspicion is that the soldiers must have heard the noise of the people, who were fighting as they were running helter-skelter. Then they (the soldiers) rushed to the scene of the fracas and started shouting at people instead of making peace.
The soldiers who were at the checkpoint near the Community Secondary School, Isieke rushed to the scene and were shouting, stop it, stop it. Suddenly, there was an explosion as one of the soldiers released a shot, which hit a young man, a graduate and a nephew to the bride’s mother.
His name was Chijioke Ndubuaku, who got a job with a bank three months ago. The young man shouted and slumped to the ground. “Confusion enveloped the scene and everyone started running away. The soldiers simply slipped away in the midst of the fracas and disappeared into thin air.
What I did was to secure my mother and others. We went out and I took my nephew and his new wife to Owerri. Ndubuaku, however, did not die on the spot. “While I was in Owerri, I was informed that the police raided my house and arrested some of my relations with the allegation that we were involved.
How can the police raid my house? I am not the soldier that shot the young man, neither am I involved in any way. It is just that I am related to the bridegroom. So I have gone to SCIB and submitted a petition exonerating myself from any involvement in the shooting.
“The allegation being made by the family members that I brought the soldiers that killed the young man is completely false. My only involvement was in the marriage arrangements because of my relationship with the bridegroom. “The mother of the bride, Mrs. Ojiugo and the mother of the deceased are from the same mother. Some elders of the community, who are key politicians in the state were present and witnessed what happened.”
The middle man for the marriage contract, one Chief Samuel Ndubuka, who spoke to Daily Sun said the incident happened in an open field. “Those who are accusing Innocent are doing so out of wickedness. Innocent does not have a hand in the death of the young man.
He is not the soldier that shot him. So, why all the hues and cries against him,” Ndubuka queried, insisting that what happened took place in broad daylight and in an open field. Abia State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Ambrose Aisabor, said the matter was a case of murder and that no stone would be left unturned to unravel the mystery.
“We have written to the military authorities to hand over the suspect to us with the gun he used in shooting the young man to enable us prosecute him but they said they wanted to first carry out their own orderly room trial. We are still waiting for their response and once they reply, we will commence investigation and prosecution. No one is above the law of the country, not even the army or police, especially when life is involved. It was not a war situation that would have enabled the army to kill.
It was a civil ceremony where they were not even invited. It was a matter of over-zealousness. It was like somebody telephoned them that there was a fracas at the wedding ceremony and they came in and started shooting indiscriminately. The soldier, who shot the young man, has been identified. The law must take its course,” the police boss said.