Posted by By BASSEY BASSEY, Calabar on
April 3rd, 2005 will remain the darkest day in the lives of members of Chief Henry E. Itam’s family living at number 30 State Avenue in Calabar, Cross River State.
April 3rd, 2005 will remain the darkest day in the lives of members of Chief Henry E. Itam’s family living at number 30 State Avenue in Calabar, Cross River State. This was the date they lost the eldest son of the family, Itam E. Itam, in a shoot out by men believed to be from the state Criminal Investigation Department (CID).
The late Itam was shot at around 9.45pm in front of his father’s house, bundled into the booth of a dark Mercedes Benz car, and driven to the state CID.
Daily Sun investigation revealed that the events leading to the gruesome killing of Itam – a casual worker with the Calabar Urban Development Authority (CUDA), started with a disagreement between him and one of his friends called Benji residing at number 22 Ekpenyong Ekpenyong Street in Calabar.
The two were said to have fought few days before the killing over money which Benji was said to be owing the deceased.
Narrating the story, the father of the deceased, Chief Henry E. Itam said: “Benji was a very known person to Itam, who always comes around to see him. Few days to the killing of Itam, there was a fight between them, which my eldest daughter Grace Itam reported to me and I called them for settlement. Benji at that point agreed to pay my son the amount he was owing him.
“On that fateful day, the 3rd of April at about 9.45pm, NEPA took light. Myself and my family were sitting outside to enjoy the natural breeze. Itam wore a boxer pant. He had a call which he answered: ‘Hello Benji, where are you’. Benji answered that he was outside my compound. My son walked out to meet him.
“After a while, we heard several gunshots which attracted my family members and neighbours. We rushed out and at that point I heard my son shouting; ‘Mama, Benji has brought people to shoot me’.
“Immediately, a dark coloured Mercedes Benz car moved to the scene from where it was parked. Itam was thrown into the booth and driven off.
“My eldest daughter called him immediately, since he was with his phone, and asked him where he was. He answered that he was in the booth of the car, bleeding to death. He said he overheard the people in the car talking about state CID.
“I mobilized members of my family including one Rev. Oqua and we all went to the state CID that night. After a while, the Mercedes Benz drove in and when they brought out my son he was unconscious”.
The family’s lawyer, Joe Agi who is handling the matter, has petitioned the Inspector General of Police seeking justice.
In his petition dated April 8, 2005, the legal practitioner alleged that the team which shot the late Itam, was led by the head of the Special Armed Robbery Squad (SARS) in the state, one Mr. Monsi. He said that when his client arrived at the state CID on the night of the incident, it was Mr. Monsi’s Mercedes Benz that arrived the station with the deceased. He wrote:
“Our client demanded to see his son, but Monsi told them they were taking him to hospital, and chased our client and sympathizers out of the station.
“On enquiry the next morning, Monsi told our client that doctors were still extracting bullets from the body, and would not disclose the hospital, which according to him was for security reasons. It was only on the 5th of April, that our client was informed by Mr. Monsi that his son did not survive the bullet wounds, and had been buried with the permission of a Justice of the Peace. Attempts to know where the deceased was buried had met with a brick wall.
“Mr. Monsi, has now tagged the deceased an armed robber, and he readily would show a rusty pistol as that recovered from the deceased, and claims that the deceased was caught in the act.”
Efforts made by Daily Sun to get the police version to the controversy were not successful.
Mr. Monsi who heads the SARS, was said to be on official assignment at the headquarters of Zone Six.
At the State Police Command, the newspaper was told that the case in question has been referred to the Zonal Police Command for investigation
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