The Ekikienkpong family in Idum Mbube, Ogoja, in Cross River North, has petitioned the Chief of Army Staff Lieutenant General Farouk Yahaya over the cold-blooded murder of their son, the Late Joseph Peter Okpe
at a hotel in Ogoja by troops drafted from the Ogoja Battalion of the Nigerian Army, allegedly led by one Major Olayinka Olaoye.
The family of 37-year-old Joseph Okpe, a major power bikes dealer in Cross River who was gunned down at hotel premises in Ogoja, Cross River North in the wee hours of March 17, 2023, by soldiers is urging Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Farouk Yahaya to immediately fish out the culprits for trail.
In a strongly worded petition anchored by Advocate Legal Chamber in Calabar and made available to newsmen, the bereaved family wants the prime suspect and his cohorts to be brought to book in a bid to serve as a deterrent to trigger happy *soldiers poised to dent the corporate image of the Army due to peanuts from some disgruntled* elements in the society
Findings revealed that the late Peter Okpe, married with three kids had arrived in Ogoja from Ikom in the company of some friends and artisans engaged for the construction works at his building site at Ogoja since work was ongoing despite the Governorship and House of Assembly Elections billed for the following day
Unknown to Late Okpe that he was on the radar of some business associates heavily indebted to him over some inconclusive financial transactions who have been spotted by some locals hobnobbing with some soldiers including the alleged suspect at major relaxation centers around Ogoja before the cold-blooded murder.
Our source continued “After checking in at the hotel our brother left to visit his aged parents and some family members leaving the team he traveled to settle. Immediately he left, soldiers arrived at the hotel demanding Joe amidst heavy shooting which send everyone scampering for safety”.
“Since he was not around all his friends were arrested and taken to an unknown destination with their phones impounded while detailing a mole for surveillance. Immediately after he drove him, Major Olayinka and his men arrived.
“He was shot in the hip when he alighted from his car. After he collapsed to the floor. They advanced closer and opened fire at close range and he died instantly, his car was ransacked, and over three cash carted away”.
“Findings by Summit Post indicate that the body was evacuated and taken to the military checkpoint and later handed over to the police under the guise of a political thug killed during an exchange of gunfire with the military
Legal Counsel to the family who endorsed the Petition, E E Osim Esq opined that labeling the late Okpe as a political thug killed during a gun melee is a well “orchestrated cover-up meant to shield the culprit from justice”.
“We want the Chief of Army Staff to know that soldiers drafted for election duty performed creditably while adhering strictly to global best practices. This heinous crime was committed hours before the commencement of the elections. This is not the case of unknown soldiers, we know the killers even though they have been hurriedly transferred from Ogoja Army Formation. Major Olayinka and co should be handed over to the Military Police for preliminary interrogation for onward handing over to the Nigerian Police for the law to take its cause, this is our earnest prayer”
Reacting to the incident, the State Commissioner of Police, Sule Balarabe told our reporter that “the killing
of Mr. Peter Okpe is a pure murder case which should not be associated with the Governorship election and House of Assembly election-related violence”.
“There was nothing like snatching of the ballot box or exchange of fire between political thugs and the military anywhere in the state contrary to online media reports. The young man was murdered on the eve of the election. Even our report to the headquarters regarding the conduct and outcome of the election did not capture the murder because the incident didn’t happen on election day”.
The police boss disclosed that “we are treating it as a pure murder case and it is under serious investigation by a cracked team from the command”.
He stated that the police “would try as much as we can to be professional in our investigation”.
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