By Bose Adelaja
Mrs. Florence Akhigbe was speechless when the news of her husband’s sudden death was broken to her; initially she discarded the news owing to the fact that the hubby, Inspector Innocent Akhigbe, left home hale and hearty on that fateful Wednesday. However, when sympathisers began to throng her apartment, it dawned on her that her hearthrob of many years had gone to the great beyond in the course of discharging his duties as an official of the Anti-Vandal Squad of theNigerian Security and Civil Defense Corps, NSCDC.
Innocent met his untimely death on Wednesday, March 27, together with one of his colleagues, Assistant Inspector Gabriel Adaji, when their team went on a raid at Abule-Oba, Isawo area of Ikorodu, Lagos State. The operation was successful until some policemen attached to Owutu Division laid ambush for the NDCSC officials and rained bullets on them after one of the suspected vandals put a call across to the policemen. At the end of the attack, five officials in the team sustained injuries, one was arrested by the policemen while Innocent and Gabriel,among those wounded, died before day break.
The incident is generating controversy as the Lagos police denied that its men laid ambush for the NSCDC officials.The police spoke through their spokesperson Ngozi Braide. The Commandant General of NSCDC, Dr. Ade Abolurin, was in Lagos, last weekend, when he paid a visit to the families of the deceased persons, the scene of the incident as well as Owutu Division in Ikorodu.
During the condolence visit, Florence,the wife of Akhigbe, could not hold back tears when condoled by the CG who encouraged and prayed for the family.
The spokesperson for the family, Rev Sam Ebiogbe, appreciated the NSCDC for their efforts so far and called on them to bring the culprits to book. He said the deceased was dedicated to duty during his life time,saying, “Because of his love for the nation, Innocent always availed himself of every opportunity to serve his father land.
It will be disappointing if his death should be in vain and the perpetrators are allowed to go scot- free. We have seen your efforts at ensuring that justice is done and we want you to continue along that line. Innocent’s death is very painful, and nothing can replace him in our lives, especially the widow and the children he left behind. Since the death of her husband, she has been totally distraught so much so that she still believes her husband would still come back home”
At Gabriel’s home, his elder brother, Simon Adaji, also called on the government to ensure that justice is done; saying Adaji’s blood was crying for justice. He said the family will only be consoled when perpetrators of the murder are brought to book. “Justice can only be done if the truth of the matter is exposed’’.
During Abolurin’s visit to the scene of the incident, he impounded about 100 gallons meant to siphon petroleum products and, at the end of the visit, he charged the Corps officials not to avenge their colleagues’ death.
The Commandant General also said the NSCDC will not entertain any debate or controversy on the issue, but will wait for the report of the committee set up by President Goodluck Jonathan to investigate the incident, adding, “It is expedient to make a sacrifice in the course of building the nation, but who will make such a sacrifice is what nobody knows. We remain resolute and determined, we shall seek synergy and live in peace in our community.’’
He also urged his men to extend their hand of fellowship to the Nigeria Police. ‘’I want you to know that not every member of the Nigeria Police is bad: Police is an institution made up of many people, so when you see them, kindly extend your hands of fellowship to them and let them know we stand for peace.
We are determined to succeed; henceforth, men and officers of the NSCDC should justify the existence of the Corps through their impact, telling Nigerians that we are mature. This is the first time in Nigeria that the nation will witness such incident and the affected organisation has refused to take the law into its hands.
Let us leave everything to God since the Federal Government has waded into the mater, I believe justice will prevail and, by the special grace of God, their blood will not be in vain,’’ Also, Abolurin asked vandals in Lagos State to relocate or face the wrath of the law.
“In the course of today’s visit, we saw vandals holding meeting on water and we burnt about 100 gallons; an indication
that the vandals are not ready to cooperate with security operatives. We hereby declare that all vandals should between now and seven days relocate and pack their load and if there is anybody that stands as a collaborator, the hand of the law will rest on him. We have made a declaration and on Aburi we stand; vandals should leave Lagos because it is not their home town and collaborators should give way’’
Compensation On compensation for the families of the victims, Abolurin said, ‘’ In the course of our visit, we have seen the enormous responsibility left behind by the victims and I want you to know that the Corps has a comprehensive insurance policy. The Corps has always stood firmly on this as we care for both the living and the dead.’’