The father of Innocent Kokorifa, who was allegedly killed by a police team in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, has demanded justice for his son.
Mr. Daniel Kokorifa, an official of the Federal Road Safety Corps, Rivers State Sector Command, said his son was murdered by a team led by his friend.
He spoke on Monday when some human rights activists, led by a former Secretary, Civil Liberties Organisation, Mr. Alagoa Morris, paid a condolence visit to his home in the Okaka area of Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital.
Innocent, who was first of five children, was allegedly shot dead by the police anti-kidnapping team on Air Force Road in Yenagoa on August 18, 2016.
The victim was said to be running an errand for his mother, Pere, when he was killed.
But the state police command had in a statement claimed that the victim died during a gun battle between a three-man robbery gang and the police.
The victim’s father, Daniel, however, said upon investigation, he discovered that Innocent was killed by a police team led by his own friend.
He explained that his son died on the day his West Africa Senior Secondary Certificate Examination results were released wherein he passed all his papers.
He said, “On August 18, 2016, my wife called me that our son was shot dead by the police. We went to the State Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department, but they denied knowledge of the incident.
“We went to the anti-vice unit and they also denied. When we went to the scene of the incident, we discovered that it was the anti-vice team that came for the operation.
“The following morning, I went to the anti-vice team again, but they denied knowledge of it. I saw a friend, who worked there. When I asked him, he also denied any knowledge of it. But I later discovered that it was my friend, who led the team, that killed my son.
“From there, I went to the Emergency Ward at the Federal Medical Centre, Yenagoa, in search of my son. There, I was told that the police brought the boy in the night around 11pm, the doctors said the boy was brought dead.
“That was how I knew my son was dead. I went inside the mortuary with my son’s picture and my ID card before they allowed me in. I saw his lifeless body in the morgue.”
Daniel, while thanking various rights groups that had been standing by the family, said his son’s dream of studying law at the university had been cut short.
“From birth, he never had any criminal record. The day he died was the day his principal called me that he made all his papers. Now, he is dead. All I demand is justice,” he added.
The victim’s mother, Pere, said she asked him to give N2,000 to her elder sister’s daughter around 10pm on the day of the incident.
“We started searching for him when he didn’t return on time. We went to hospitals and police stations, but they all denied knowing the whereabouts of my son. The following day, when my husband returned from Port Harcourt where he works, we went to the SCIID and they asked me to write a statement that it was bad boys that killed my son, so that they could investigate the matter, but I refused.”
Human rights activist, Morris, said, “Even a criminal is innocent until proven guilty by a competent court of law. And until a judge pronounces the death penalty, no one has the right to take a life.”
Another activist, Ebiserikumo Gbassa, who described the development as an extra-judicial killing, said the police had ended the life of a promising youth.
“I am appealing to all relevant authorities to ensure that the killers of the innocent boy are brought to book,” he added.
When contacted, the spokesman for the police command in the state, Mr. Asinim Butswat, said the police were investigating the matter.
However, the Deputy Commissioner of Police in charge of Operations, Amiengheme Andy, last Friday, sympathised with the family of the deceased.
Andy had said, “We do not encourage such things. We all have children and nobody will send anyone out to shoot anybody and anyone who does that will pay dearly for it.
“We want to assure the family that nobody will cover up the matter.“At the end of the day, justice must be done. The commissioner wants to see the father of the boy because it is very painful.”