Video shows dad was intentionally killed by policeman, not stray bullet – Daughter of Lagos tailor

 


Blessing Ogbonnaya is the daughter of a 65-year-old tailor, the late Okoronkwo Ogbonnaya, who was seen in a viral video being carried by some youths after he was allegedly shot by a policeman in the Tejuosho area of Lagos few hours after the Lekki Tollgate shootings during the recent #EndSARS protests. She shares her grief with ALEXANDER OKERE

Can you introduce yourself?


My name is Blessing Ogbonnaya. I am an apprentice makeup artist.


A Twitter user recently shared a video showing a man said to be your dad, who was being carried by some youths after he was allegedly shot by the police somewhere in Lagos…



That’s my dad.


Where did the incident occur?


It happened at Barracks around Tejuosho area in Lagos. It happened on Wednesday, October 21, 2020. The person that shared the video is my cousin.


The incident happened a few hours after some #EndSARS protesters were reportedly shot at the Lekki Tollgate. Did your dad take part in the protest?


No.



How was your father killed?


He was coming back from work. According to what I was told, some boys wanted to set a police station ablaze, so the police started chasing them away. My dad was just passing the area and when the police started shooting and driving the guys away, my dad started running. Then the police shot him and he fell. He was taken to hospital where he died.


Where did the bullet hit him?



It hit him in the back and came out from his tummy. He was a tailor at Yaba; he was returning from work in the morning and there was no riot or curfew at that time. He felt that everywhere was calm; there were no commercial buses around. So, he decided to walk to a place where he could find a bus.


Do you think your dad was hit by a stray bullet or was killed intentionally by a policeman?



A policeman pointed his gun at him and shot him. It was intentional. I have the video.


Where did the people who carried him take him to?


They took him to Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Idi-Araba.


At what point did he die?


We were at home when we got a call that he had been shot and taken to LUTH. When my mum, elder sister and I got to the hospital, we requested to see him but we were told that we couldn’t see him because he was being operated on. They told us that he couldn’t breathe well and that we should bring some money so that he would be placed in the intensive care unit. We wanted to see him but they refused, insisting that we should bring the money.



How much did the hospital ask you to bring?


They told us to bring N265,000 so that they could process it (moving him to the ICU). But they said the total amount we would pay for his treatment was N565,000. We started looking for the money. While my mum and I stayed back at the hospital, my sister and our landlord went out to look for the money. We did not have that kind of money. While we were there, someone called and told me to take a photo of my dad so that they could use that to seek assistance. But the doctor refused.



When my dad’s brother came in the evening, the doctor called him in. When my uncle came out, he told us to leave, not knowing that my dad was already dead. They didn’t want to tell us that he was dead to prevent us from crying, though my mum had the feeling that my dad had died. Later that day, my uncle told us that my dad died while receiving treatment.


Do you know the time he was shot and the time he died?



My dad was shot in the morning but we don’t know the exact time. We also don’t know the exact time he died. We weren’t told.


Did you eventually pay the N265,000?


We didn’t because he was already dead.


Was his body released to your family?


We were told that before the body could be released, we needed to pay N565,000. We wondered how we would raise that kind of money, since he was shot by the police. So, we decided to cry for help on social media. We got a call from the Lagos State Commissioner for Health who invited us and told us we could get his body without paying any money. But when we wanted to do that, we were told that the government wanted to investigate the incident and compensate the family. On Monday (November 2, 2020), we were told that the body had been moved to a government hospital. We plan to go there.



How old was your dad?


He was 62.


What was the last conversation you had with him?


My dad used to send money to us for feeding through a woman. My mum called him on the evening of October 20, 2020 before he was killed to know how he was doing. She asked him whether his location was safe and he said it was. He promised to return home as soon as he was through with what he was doing. My dad was a tailor at a plaza in Yaba and only returned home on weekends.



My mum is a roadside trader and my dad had promised to rent a shop for her so that she could stop selling on the road. I have three siblings. He also promised to pay my elder sister’s school fees as soon as her school resumed and pay for my Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination. Our landlord had wanted to give us a notice to quit, so my dad was planning to move us to another apartment before he died.


How has your family been coping with the loss?



Someone used my father’s phone to call to inform me that he was shot. I was shocked when I heard that. My mum felt very bad and started weepiing. We are still hurt. We never expected this to happen because he was returning home and we were expecting him at home.


Has your family lodged any formal complaint against the police over the incident?


We are trying to get a lawyer so that the government can handle the matter. Some people are also making efforts to get the policeman that shot my dad.



Have you been able to identify the policeman that killed your dad?


We could not see the policeman’s face from the video.


What is the demand of your family now?


We only have our mum with us now. We need justice for our father. We want the policeman who killed my dad to be brought to justice. He must be fished out and punished; even when he was told that my dad wasn’t part of those that wanted to set the police station ablaze, he didn’t listen. We also need help. Our dad was our breadwinner but now, we are managing

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