Posted by By Kio Nimengoka on
A student of the Rivers State University of Science and Technology, Mr. Sylvanus Erasmus on Thursday, January 13, 2005 narrated how he escaped from the gangsters that captured him on August 15, 2004 at Ataba in Andoni local government
A student of the Rivers State University of Science and Technology, Mr. Sylvanus Erasmus on Thursday, January 13, 2005 narrated how he escaped from the gangsters that captured him on August 15, 2004 at Ataba in Andoni local government area where over 30 indigenes were slaughtered and property destroyed, forcing everyone to desert the town.
Testifying before Justice Peter Agumagu's Judicial Commission of Inquiry, Mr. Erasmus said on August 14, 2004 he was given money for his family in connection with a burial, adding that he went to his grandmother's residence in the morning of August 15, 2004 where he heard some gunshots.
The witness who was led in evidence by Mr. Damian O. Okoro, counsel to HRM Benson Egwenre, said he consequently left his grandmother's residence for his mother's and close to his late father's residence, he saw about 19 people with guns, who ordered him to stop.
He said people had red head tie, yellow band on their foreheads and robbed charcoal on their faces with cowries on their necks, saying that when Ngere Owaji Anthony approached him, a fellow student of UST named F. Promise Stephen told the gang not to kill him as he knew nothing about the Ataba chieftaincy crisis.
Mr. Erasmus alleged that Anthony Jackson who ordered him to raise his hands beat him with a sharp matchet on his back where he sustained several injuries including cuts on one of his hands, adding that he was later ordered to carry a jerry-can containing bullets which he did and followed them as he had no option in his predicament.
He said on reaching Asimebra's premises, he saw one Okikere Tonye in the gutter struggling between life and death and equally saw the dead body of one Sokari Lazarus (Jnr) popularly known as Digo as they got to Jonathan's square, saying that he came to know the gang leader as Mr. Ebenezer Martins popularly known as Kito because according to him, he was giving them directive.
The witness who gave a vivid description of the places the gang visited, alleged that an axe was used to cut off the head of Okikere Tonye, adding that as they came back, he did not see the two bodies.
Mr. Erasmus who showed members of the commission injuries he sustained also alleged that one Mr. Gaffa Lucky brought out his handset and phoned Chief Emmanuel Njah saying "Chief, Chief, we have killed so may people", an evidence that generated series of cross-examination.
Earlier, the Director of Public Prosecutions in the State Ministry of Justice, Mr. Rufus Godwins had told the commission that he deals on police case files and not public opinion.
Mr. Godwins who was subpoened by the commission said he went through the police case file concerning the murder of Sunday Odumo and identified what he called haphazards, adding that he reproduced the statements of both the wife and the mother of the deceased which were unedited.
The DPP said efforts were made to bribe him so as not to charge the matter to court but he damned the pressure, saying that two persons were charged to court in respect of Sunday Odumo before a Port Harcourt high court with the charge no PHC/18c/04 filed on July 14, 2004.
On Ataba crisis, Mr. Godwins said he reviewed the case file against Chief Njah and charged Bob Satan and another person for the murder of Ebenezer Willy and exonerated the second and third suspects based on the investigated alibi.
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