Fresh facts have emerged on how a travel agent, Chrysantus Nwabueze Korie, was brutally murdered on Thursday April 11, 2013 in Lagos by policemen believed to be on an unauthorised assignment. Tochukwu Ofogeli, who rode with the late Korie when the incident happened at the foot of Daleko Bridge in Mushin, Lagos, said the deceased was shot at close range by a policeman.
This is coming as the Korie family of Umuezeala, Umuevu in Okirika Nweke, Ahiazu Mbaise, Imo State and his kinsmen are demanding that the men who killed Chrysantus must be found and punished. They want the Inspector General of Police, Mr. M. D. Abubakar and the Lagos Commissioner of Police, Mr. Umar Manko to fast track the police investigation into the matter since it was alleged that the men currently being detained are not the real culprits.
Speaking for the first time since the incident happened, Ofogeli revealed that he was struggling to find his rhythm, as he was yet to overcome the trauma of the incident. With nostalgic feelings, he recalled how he narrowly missed the bullets from the policeman's gun, wondering why Korie, 38, with whom he rode in the same car that fateful morning, was killed without any justifiable reason whatsoever. He said as soon as the policemen killed Korie, the cops fled the scene.
Then confusion enveloped him like a fog before some sympathisers arrived. Korie, Ofogeli further recalled, was still trapped in his seat belt, stone dead, as the crowd struggled to see the deceased and the shattered windscreen of the car he was driving.
"In the morning of Thursday, April 11, 2013, Korie called me to meet him at his residence in Iba, a suburb of Lagos. When I arrived, he urged me to accompany him to Iyana Itire along the Oshodi-Apapa Expressway to meet a friend.
"We drove in his Toyota Highlander SUV. When we reached Iyana Isolo, we intended to connect Daleko roundabout and cross the overhead bridge to Isolo before heading to Iyana Itire. But we discovered that the Daleko road was blocked following ongoing construction work by the Federal Road Maintenance Agency (FERMA). Then a newspaper vendor under the bridge told us that traffic into Daleko had been diverted to the alternate road which hitherto was a one way.
"So we took the road and soon arrived at the foot of the overhead bridge. Then a policeman sprang out from the corner. He cocked his gun menacingly, pointing it at us and yelling, 'park, park!'
Then someone hit at the rear of our car. We were still wondering what was amiss when the second policeman jumped at us, cocked his gun and kept yelling at Korie's side. It all happened within a split second.
"Korie could not even wind down to determine what the policemen wanted of us before a deafening shot rang out
"Instantly, I froze. Korie was hit in the upper cheek, inches closed to his left ear. I thought I too was hit.
"Then I saw the policemen running away. Then Korie began to struggle as death beckoned. I struggled and came out of the car and began to scream for help. I then opened his own side and I when lifted his head, he had died and bleeding profusely.
"I was drenched in his blood. An okada man said the policemen jumped into one LT Volkswagen kombi bus and fled. Then one okada rider advised me to report the matter at the Daleko police station nearby. So I went there, and reported the incident.
"They came promptly and made calls, and in minutes, policemen arrived at the scene. Other okada riders told them what they saw from afar. Some of them said those policemen were always coming to that same spot every morning.
"They would arrest those using the alternate road and extort money from them before releasing them. They would operate before the arrival of the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA) team.
"The policemen came in two vans. They assisted me in bringing out Korie’s corpse and put it inside their van. Then we drove to the Olosa Police Station, Mushin.
"When we got there, they asked me to make a written statement and I did. Then we took the corpse to Isolo General Hospital and later to Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) morgue."
A kinsman to the Kories, who did not want to be identified, told Daily Sun that a police source had informed him that the men who were arrested were those who handed the guns to the men who killed Chrysantus.
The culprits worked with LASTMA at Oshodi; they only sneak out to make quick cash at dawn. He alleged that when the real culprits arrived to drop their guns, they pointedly told their colleagues in the office not to bother looking for them as they had committed some heinous crime and were fleeing.
He further alleged that the police had stormed the home of one of the fleeing policemen and found only his wife and children. He feared that the policemen might escape without a trace. He recalled that Kories' kinsmen in company with detectives from Panti, Lagos had visited the road where Chrysantus was killed and found that every one was using the same road because of the on-going road construction works.
Another relation of the Kories', Chinedu Obi, a legal practitioner, confirmed that the police had made arrests and the suspects were currently in detention. He said the suspects were the ones, who relieved the fleeing policemen that committed the act.
"The ones who killed Korie, from what we gathered, had their duty a night before and were not supposed to be on duty that morning.
"The police have shown us the two guns they recovered from the LASTMA station where the policemen were attached. We were told that the guns would be taken for forensic tests. They want to establish that they were the guns being used by the police attached to the LASTMA, Oshodi office.
"For now, we want to give the police a chance to do their job as they have promised."
Mr. Kelechi Okoro, one of the elders of the Umezeala village in Lagos described the late Chrysantus as "a very nice, jolly good fellow, who could not hurt even a fly."
"He was very hardworking. He graduated from Imo State University, Owerri, about four years ago. He read Psychology, worked as a hotel manager before going into travel agency job.
"He ran Santos Travels and Tours based at Trade Fair, Lagos. He was not a foreigner, as a section of the media earlier reported. The documents in his car belonged to his clients."
The deceased's younger brother, Chigozie, disclosed that Chrysantus was the number two among five males and two females.
"Our parents are both late. As I talk to you, I'm lost. I'm short of words. I can't believe Chrysantus is gone.
"We can't even tell our eldest sister. If we do, she will die of shock. Chrysantus was planning to marry in August, now see what the police have done to him," he said tearfully. "He was such a peaceful fellow. He was popular and good. I opened the gate for him to drive out that morning. Now, see me; I have lost everything."
Pastor Keneth Okeanu, a relation of the Kories, said an autopsy had long been conducted on the late Chrysantus and the result was already out. Even a death certificate, he said, had been issued to them.
Now, the family and kinsmen of the deceased are united in asking for justice.
"The late Chrysantus was our brother," Mr. Obi said. "We are united in asking for justice. Let those who killed him be produced and punished because the police have gone too far in this country in killing innocent people. This type of criminality has been going on for too long and now needs to be challenged and halted.
"This, I pray, should be the end of this police brutality. We will demand an apology from the IGP over this gruesome murder, then every other thing will follow. We should not forget that the deceased had siblings that he was taking care of."
Similarly, Mr. Okoro said: "All what we want now is justice. Let the IG and the Lagos State police boss ensure that Chrysantus doesn't die just like that. It is unjust to murder people as though they are mere chickens. Chrysantus was neither a robber nor a smuggler and did not deserve to die in the manner he died,” he insisted.