The father of Somtochukwu Ibeanusi, the 11-year-old boy who was allegedly shot dead by security agents during the demolition of Owerri Main Market on August 27, 2017, has demanded a N20million compensation from the state government.
Isaiah Ibeanusi, the bereaved father, who testified at a public hearing on police brutality, corruption and abuse in southern Nigeria, lamented the nonchalant attitude that the Police have displayed in the handling of his son's murder.
At the event, organised in Owerri by a civil rights group, Network on Police Reform in Nigeria (NOPRIN), Ibeanusi said it was unfortunate that two years after his only son was killed through a stray bullet, no efforts had been made to properly investigate the incident and prosecute the killers.
He accused the Police and the government of paying lip service to the killing of his only son.
Somtochukwu's father, who asked for N20 million as compensation, said the money would cover all the expenses he incurred, including the burial expenses and N500,000 he reportedly paid for the autopsy.
“The compensation would at least cushion the pains of the loss," he said. "I want a thorough investigation into the circumstance that led to the killing of my only son. I want justice. I want his killers to be brought to justice.”
In his presentation during the public hearing, Okechukwu Nwanguma, National Coordinator of (NOPRIN), stated that the foundation was committed to ensuring that police brutality and corrupt tendencies are brought to an end.
Nwaguma disclosed that the aim of the public hearing was to make sure that victims of police brutalities get justice.
“We want contributions to the ongoing advocacy and efforts to reform and transform the Nigeria Police from a brutal regime force to a democratic, professional, citizen-friendly, effective and accountable police force that serves and protects the rights and interest of the people," he said.
"It is worrisome that despite the huge investment of resources, time and energy by civil societies, government and international development partners and foreign governments, police reform efforts have yielded no significant improvement.
“On the part of government, there seems to be more rhetoric than concrete actions. Even though when the government sets up police reform committees, their recommendations are never wholeheartedly implemented.”
Ibeanusi previously spoke of how, a few days after the incident, two State Security Service (SSS) officials believed to be acting on Governor Rochas Okorocha’s orders arrived at his home with an unbelievable message.
“They said I should not tell anyone that my son was killed in Imo, that I should instead tell anyone who asked me that the incident occurred in Rivers State,” he had said.
“They promised to do heaven and earth for me if I complied, but I shouted at them ‘over my dead body’. I told them I wouldn’t do it even if they offered me N10 million. The two of them came again the next day, around 4pm. I walked them out and told them I never wanted to set my eyes on them again!”
He had also said that when Somto’s body was taken to his native Anambra State for burial, Okorocha’s men were in attendance, too, to offer him a compensation of N2million cash. But he rejected it.
“I sent the money back and in addition I sent them two cartons of malt!” he said.
Still desperate to placate Ibeanusi, the state government renamed a part of the under-reconstruction market in honour of his slain son. But it made no meaning to him, still.
“I saw it last week; they put it there: Somto Shopping Mall,” he said in April 2018. “I found it disturbing; I just left the place. You know, it’s just as if this tragedy happened two days ago; I remember it but I don’t like to.”