When on September 15, 2012, Ugochukwu Ozuah, married Joan, his girlfriend of nearly two years; family and friends rejoiced with them at The Redeemed Evangelical Mission, Lagos.
The 36-year-old man and Joan then stayed at the Whispering Palms, a beach resort in Badagry, for three days for their honeymoon.
The couple’s joy was however cut short on September 20, 2012, when the groom was allegedly shot and killed by policemen attached to the Anthony Division.
Ozuah, an indigene of Anambra State and Mechanical Engineering Graduate of the University of Ado Ekiti, was allegedly killed close to the UPS Bus Stop along Oworonsoki-Oshodi Expressway while dropping his friend off.
The friend, Erikefe Omene, who came from the United Kingdom to attend the wedding, told PUNCH Metro that he still could not understand why the policemen shot the deceased.
He said, “I went to visit Ozuah at his house at Oke Olowo Estate on Thursday. When it was around 10pm, I wanted to leave but he said taxis were not allowed into the estate so he decided to drop me off outside the estate where I would get a taxi. We got into his car, a Honda CRV, and he drove out. As we approached the expressway, there was an ash/blue car that stopped around the same time to drop someone.
“An individual came out of the car which was now parked side by side with ours. Because of the manner with which it was parked, I didn’t know the type of car it was. Policemen approached the said car and I thought it was just a routine check so we didn’t pay it much attention.
“Ozuah parked the car and we both alighted so we could stop a taxi but before he to shut the door, one of the policemen said, ‘Who’s there? Who goes there?’ And shot Ozuah who then fell flat on the floor. Individuals from the ash/blue car suddenly ran behind Ozuah’s car to where I was and I thought the policemen might come around to shoot. So, I ran back into the estate.”
Omene said he went to the deceased’s house to inform his wife of what had happened. He said Joan, and her in-laws took another car and drove back to the scene.
He said upon returning to the scene about 10 to 20 minutes later, he saw more policemen standing near Ozuah who was lying down in a pool of his own blood.
He said, “By the time we arrived the scene, there were many policemen there. The Divisional Police Officer said he just received a phone call that someone was shot. I then told the DPO that it was a policeman that shot my friend. The DPO then asked me to explain and I narrated the story to him. He said, ‘Are you sure it wasn’t someone in black that shot your friend?’
“At this point, Ozuah’s wife started shouting that we should rush him to a hospital. Although he wasn’t moving, his body was still warm. So, we laid him on the backseat and her brother-in-law drove him down to the hospital.”
Omene said he remained with the DPO and reiterated what had happened but the DPO was adamant, saying the killers must have been armed robbers in police uniform.
Omene added that he and the DPO then drove to the hospital where the doctor said Ozuah was dead.
It was learnt that Omene immediately went to the police station where he wrote a statement.
Ozuah’s remains were said to have been deposited at the morgue of Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, Ikeja
At the home of Nkechi, the deceased’s elder sister, on Friday, sympathisers came in droves to condole with the family.
The deceased’s younger sister, who wept bitterly, told our correspondent that Ozuah was, until his death, the only surviving son of the family.
“Our mother gave birth to three girls and two boys. One of our brothers died in 2008 and Ugochuckwu (Ozuah) was the only surviving son. Our father is late and when I got married three years ago, he (Ozuah) was the one who gave me away. It feels like a nightmare that he was killed just days after his wedding and he had no child. Our mother is still alive. What a tragedy,” she said.
Omene, who also wept profusely, described the deceased as a jovial and straightforward person.
When contacted, the spokesperson for the state police command, Ngozi Braide, said it was armed robbers that killed Ozuah and not the police.
Braide, in a a text message, said, “No, it’s falsehood. The guy was actually killed by armed robbers in a Sports Utility Vehicle, not the police please.”