By Godwin Onyeacholem
Going by reports in the media, there is no doubt Your Excellency is aware of the painful death in Abuja of Joy Odama, a 200-Level Mass Communication student of Cross River State University, and an indigene of Cross River State which is currently under your leadership.
She had returned home last December after the close of school to celebrate Christmas and New Year with her family. But she ended up celebrating neither. Instead, Joy met gruesome death in the home of one Alhaji Usman Adamu in Karmo, a suburb of Abuja. Surely you are aware of the evil-minded circumstances surrounding this unfortunate incident, and so repeating them here would be needless.
According to reports, not only were you jolted by this death, but also by the very embarrassing manner the police are handling it.
To that extent, you had directed the Attorney General of Cross River State to take up the matter while, on its part, the State House of Assembly has also resolved to ensure that justice is done in this case. Thank you for taking this remedial step. Indeed, it is not only indigenes of your State that should be outraged by what befell Joy. All those who place premium on the sanctity of human life, regardless of race or creed, should. Especially in light of the position the police have taken.
From incontrovertible available reports, clearly Usman Adamu is responsible for the poor lady’s death, but the police, in its usual despicable act of ignominy, are doing everything to shield the suspect from punishment. They have lied all through and applied all sorts of measures including open intimidation, harassment and bribing the Odama family just for them to forgo the case.
Recall that Philomena Odama, the deceased’s mother, says they are in possession of N400,000 bribe money offered by Usman Adamu through the police. Also remember that in their determination to get to the root of Joy’s death, the family had sought an autopsy report at the National Hospital to which the police, according to the family lawyer, were not only privy but also endorsed. That autopsy revealed “acute cocaine poisoning” as the possible cause of death. That is the report almost every single Nigerian believes in.
But seeing that the family is unwavering in its demand for justice with the refusal to fall for threats and bribery, the police upped their game. They deceitfully declared the suspect, who before then had been walking free, wanted. And then went on to perfect an orchestrated plot to ensure freedom for the suspect anyhow. The police went on to schedule a bogus meeting with the family, during which the suspect whom they had declared wanted and whose arrest was never made public, suddenly surfaced. The Odamas were dumfounded seeing him at the meeting. Meanwhile, the police hierarchy had secretly perfected a plot to sell to the public the story that the lady died from generator fumes.
That was why, following the meeting, the police announced that a second autopsy must be conducted. Of course they got the report done, which expectedly identified generator fumes as the cause of death. They then invited the star witness, Victoria Ezekiel, threatened her and forced her to change her original statement most presumably from the fact that the generator was never switched on that night to the police-invented fable that the generator was on and, therefore, the fumes were responsible for Joy’s death.
At this point, Your Excellency, you do not need a Sherlock Holmes to tell you that the police are working hard to pervert justice; that in spite of the overwhelming evidence of Usman Adamu’s culpability, the police are set to free him.
Evidence of this wicked intent of the police can also be gleaned from the apparently hurried, uncoordinated and panicky press conference held in Abuja June 30, 2017, by Moshood Jimoh, Force Public Relations Officer. Although at that conference police announced that they had concluded investigations in the case and were ready to prosecute the suspect, it was obvious they were not sincere as they were working toward a determined answer.
First, by sending the report to the DPP the police are simply trying to fool the public. If as stated in their report that Joy’s death resulted from generator fumes, why was it necessary to send the file to the DPP for advice? It simply means that no offence was committed by Usman Adamu and that there is no need for his prosecution.
Second, the police are being disingenuous for declaring as inconclusive the first autopsy report which it approved.
Third is the fact the police jettisoned the first report because it implicated the suspect and is thus an irrefutable proof of his culpability.
Fourth is that a second autopsy was unnecessary, but the police opted for it as a way of escape for the suspect.
Last, but not the least sir, where was the suspect during the press conference? Why was he not paraded at the event as has been the usual practice?
Is it not a fact that Raph Nkem, Chief Superintendent of Police, Divisional Police Officer in Karmo Police Station where the case was first reported and a known friend of the suspect, no longer deserves a career in the police from the way he handled the case at the initial stage? Nkem is known to most people as the suspect’s friend. But what was his punishment? Redeployment, according to the police.
Even Moshood Jimoh, the conveyor of every police decision, should he want to be honest, knows that nothing the police have done about the Joy Odama case in the last six months would pass the true test of professionalism.
Is it not a fact, for instance, that the police image maker has been sending messages of appreciation to some media outfits for their “favourable” reports, and accusing others of thwarting justice while boasting that the police will never give such media houses a chance?”
The purpose of this memo, Your Excellency, is to commend you for wading into this case, and to urge you not to abandon the Odamas in their quest for justice. In fact, given the dysfunctional nature of the Nigerian society, you, as a member of the privileged and influential class by virtue of your position as governor, are suitably placed to challenge the impunity of the police and help the grieving family and our heavily traumatized society to get justice.
Therefore, I am appealing to you to mobilize every arsenal in your government to ensure that this objective is realized. That way you will live forever not just in the minds of the people of Cross River, but also in the hearts of all who cherish the soul of the human person. Thank you.
Godwin Onyeacholem is a journalist. He can be reached on email@example.com