FATHER of the two-year-old boy, who was reportedly killed by stray bullets from operatives of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, at Okpanam, Oshimili North Local Government Area, Delta State, Mr.Fidelis Omhonria, has said his family was in need of justice.
He narrated how one of the operatives still corked his gun and threatened to bring him down after he told him (the official) that the gun they fired had killed his son.
The child, Ivan, died at the Federal Medical Centre, Asaba, where he was taken to after he was hit on his abdomen by a stray bullet from the operatives, who were chasing drug peddlers during a raid on the notorious joint in the neighbourhood, Thursday.
The deceased’s younger sibling, Erhumossele, who sustained injuries from broken glasses that wounded his eyes, is presently receiving treatment at the hospital.
The children had returned from school at 4.30p.m., on Thursday and were in their mother’s baking shop, when the incident occurred.
Speaking with newsmen at the hospital, Fidelis Omhonria, a native of Ubiaja community, Edo State said his wife and daughter narrowly escaped as they were all in the shop eating corn and pear, when the bullets pierced the son’s stomach and shattered glasses and cupboards in the shop.
He said he had brought the children from school and dropped them off at the wife’s shop and left with the intention of coming back to take them home after the day’s business.
Omhonria said: “My house is about five minutes drive from the shop. I just left the shop and not more than seven minutes, my wife called me, she was shouting ‘babe please come back,’ that she noticed that my son’s intestines were coming out and glasses all over the body of the other boy,
“I had only just got to the gate of my house, so, I decided to go back. She called again and said they were going to FMC and that I should come and meet them there. I went back to the shop and I was asking people what happened, then someone came to tell me that he saw NDLEA officials pursuing boys that sell drugs.
“I saw one Hilux van of NDLEA coming towards the shop, there was another Sienna. They opened the door, fully armed. I saw another Honda, one of them opened the door in front of the shop and these guys were all with pistols and other guns.
“One of the boys told me that it was the NDLEA that fired the gun that hit my son. This gave me the mind to approach one of them and told him what they had done. The guy didn’t even listen to me, so, I brought out my phone and started to snap.
“The other one at the front noticed that I was snapping, he corked his gun and said ‘If you don’t give me the phone, I will bring you down.’ So, I said you have already killed my son, so why would I give you my phone? I am not giving you my phone.”
According to Omhonria, one of the operatives came down from one of the vehicles and asked what happened, I told him: “I told him the gun they fired had killed my son. He communicated with them with his eyes and they entered their vehicles and drove off.
“I got into my car and followed them till we got to Issele-Azagba, So, they stopped, and l told them that the gun they fired has killed my son, so they were begging me that it was not intentional, but I was telling you what happend but this guy was still corking his gun, threatening me.
“They then called their commander and they told me the commander said l should come with them to Ogwashi-Uku. They said I should enter the oga’s office. They told the oga their part of the story.
“The oga pleaded with me that I should not worry and he asked about their condition. I said I had not seen them because I needed to know where the guys were from. He said he would send some officers to know the condition of the children.
“At 6.30p.m., I got to the hospital. I met my wife and she told me they needed some blood.”
He noted that in that process, some officials of the agency came to the hospital, adding some of his friends donated the blood.
Omhonria said: “They didn’t allow me to go into the theatre that moment, they were battling with him and we were trying to see how we can sort out my other baby because the test was not ready.
“They were running around and between 11p.m., and midnight, the consultant said they should call me. The team said we had lost him that the damage was so much on his intestines.
“I now said since we have lost that one, let us concentrate on the other child. They took him to the theatre at midnight. The following morning around 6a.m., they came out from the theatre trying to make sure that there was no particle of glass inside him.
“That morning, I went to make entry at the GRA police station and they transferred the matter to the state police headquarters.”
Meanwhile, the Police Public Relations Officer of the state command, Mr. Bright Edafe, has said the state Commissioner of Police, Mr. Wale Abass, has directed that the matter be transferred to SCID.
“As I speak with you, the matter is already being investigated by the State Criminal Investigation Department of the State Police Command and all parties involved will appear before the CP on Monday.”
Investigate, bring culprits to book, Oborevwori tells agency, police
Meanwhile, Governor Sheriff Oborevwori of Delta State has condemned the killing of the two-year old child, Ivan Omhonria, by a stray bullet during an operation by NDLEA operatives in Okpanam.
Oborevwori, in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Sir Festus Ahon, called on NDLEA and police authorities to thoroughly investigate the circumstances surrounding the unfortunate incident and bring all the culprits to book to avoid future occurrence.
Condoling the family of the deceased child, the governor noted that the tragic incident was regrettable and avoidable if the officers had operated based on their rules of engagement.
The statement read: “On behalf of the government and people of Delta, I commiserate with the family of Fidelis Omhonriakogbe on the tragic death of their two-year-old son, Ivan, and injury to his younger sibling, Eromonsele.
“This incident is tragic, painful and grievous because of the loss of a child and injury to his younger sibling.
“I condemn this unfortunate incident because no matter the provocation, armed security men must operate within the ambits of standard procedure as enshrined in their rules of engagement.
“Any action taken outside these international best practices could be catastrophic as in this case.”