A 30-year-old woman, Hope Osagie, tells GODFREY GEORGE how her husband, Osagie Osarumwense, was allegedly shot by men of the Edo State Police Command who accompanied a member of a community to claim a piece of land in the Ikpoba Okha Local Government Area of the state in 2020.
For how long were you married to your husband before his death?
My name is Mrs Hope Osagie. I am from Delta state but my husband is from Edo State. I am currently in Edo. My husband’s name is Osagie Osarumwense. We were married for only six months before he suddenly went missing after an encounter with some policemen and some villagers over a piece of land. This was in 2020. I got married on January 25, 2020. The incident happened on June 23, the same year.
Can narrate what exactly happened?
My husband woke up that morning and went to work as usual and never returned. We started hearing that he was attacked by some villagers at a site or something. Some said some policemen who were invited by the villagers shot my husband. Others said it was the villagers.
Why do you think he was shot?
He had just sold a parcel of land to someone in the community the previous month. But, when the person and some workers he came with went to the land to develop it, some persons came out of nowhere and attacked them. So, he had to call my husband who sold the land to him to clarify. My husband, Osagie, was confused because he, also, bought the land from another man, a chief in the community, and paid in full before reselling it to the new owner.
What did he do next?
He told them he would come the next day since he had somewhere to go. He had left for the meeting he had when the man to whom he sold the land and some other men came running to our home to complain to me that they were beaten mercilessly by members of the community. When he returned, I told him what they said and he was angry that members of the community would do such a thing to people who came to work on a piece of land that they got legitimately. He explained to me how he bought the land. It was a member of that community – I think a chief that sold the land to Osagie and gave him the documents. He even called the so-called chief who agreed to accompany him to meet the villagers. The next day, he rushed to the farmland to see the situation of things for himself and that was the last time I heard from him.
All I heard was that there was pandemonium between both parties and they shot my husband and one of his friends he had come with. I learnt he went there with some people, too, to fight for his right.
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How did you know he was shot?
One of the persons who had accompanied him to the site ran back to tell me that he had been shot. I asked where he was so I could rush him for treatment. They said they left him there and ran for their lives. I almost died. They reinforced and sent some other guys to go and look for him or his remains, but they didn’t find him. From that day to date, we have not seen his remains. A week after the incident, one man, who claimed to have witnessed the shooting, said he saw when a police officer who had come with the rival group was dragging my husband’s body after he was shot. According to the man, my husband was not dead then. Honestly, as I am, I cannot tell what happened. I just want some explanation of what happened to my husband and why I have not been able to see him or his remains.
Did you report this matter to the police?
Of course, I did, but you know that the police in Nigeria are nothing to write home about. When I reported the case, they said the matter was a community matter so they cannot do anything. They also denied being there in the first place. I don’t know what constitution they were quoting. I am not supporting my husband’s action of going to fight against the Okiri community people but doesn’t he deserve to be prosecuted? Should the matter just die like that without any investigation of any sort? I have begged the police that if they are the ones with the body, they should release it to us to for burial. They cannot just bury him like that. When I went to the station again to ask them what the updates on the matter were, they simply ignored me. How can they bury him without contacting us? He is a married man who has kids and houses. How will he just be shot at and carried away? They would have left him there for us to come and carry his remains and give him a befitting burial.
Did you get any other information about him?
Some people even avered that he might have been buried alive because the man who saw him said he was still breathing as they dragged him through the bushes. He may have been buried to conceal the murder. I remember that my husband’s younger brother was arrested when he went to report the matter to the police. He has been released although I am sure the family paid for his release. Honestly, the Nigeria Police are just something else. After much struggle, the police took his picture and ran an advert on television for a missing person. It was not free; we paid for it. But, nothing came out of it.
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I believe that if he were still alive somewhere, he would have come back home. The police should explain to us what happened to him. People said they were there and they (policemen) shot (him). If it is not because he was a good man, I would have moved on. But, I don’t want to move on and find out that he is still alive somewhere. If they arrested him, they should tell me so we can bail him out. This silence is killing me. I don’t know what else to do.
What makes you so sure that he is not still alive somewhere?
What do you want me to believe? He is not at home. I have not seen his corpse. The police are feigning ignorance. This is unfair to the family. Let them (police) come out and tell us what happened to my husband. That is all I am asking for. Where have I not gone in search of solutions? I have been to so many spiritual homes, seeking help to find my husband. I have paid private investigators. I have even been scammed of thousands of naira by people who took advantage of the situation to exploit us. That was how a prophetess collected N40,000 from us, claiming that she would find my husband in three days. From 2020 till today, nothing has come out of it. I have just been ‘ hanging’, not knowing what to do.
Do you have kids for Osagie?
Osagie already had four kids from another woman before I met him and we got married. But, we have a daughter. She was just a month old when the incident happened.
How have you been coping, caring for five kids all by yourself?
God has been faithful. Friends and family have been helpful. He was a popular person here in Edo State so his goodwill is what we are living by. Some people just come and give us money just because they knew him when he was still in the village. But, it has been difficult. I am unemployed as I speak, and it has been difficult. But, what can I do? My husband was a good man. He was not a saint, but he was a nice man. That was why I married him despite him having kids with another woman. This whole thing shouldn’t be happening to our family at all. We have been through a lot already. We don’t deserve this