Posted by Nelson Dafe | 3 February 2016 | 4,092 times
The shock that surrounded the family of a young man who was killed early last year at the height of inter-cult clashes in Benin City has cleared, but gloom, fear and determination to see the murder resolved remain.
On a sunny April morning in the Upper Sakpoba area of downtown Benin City last year, a group of about five men stormed the residence of 25-year-old Osas Ekhator and shot him at close range, ensuring he was dead before they left. The killing came at the height of cult-related murders in Benin City that prompted the police headquarters in the federal capital Abuja to draft in a special federal squad of officers to deal with the inter-cult clashes in Benin that had claimed about 40 lives.
The family of the slain man has been on a mission to ensure that the murder is resolved, but till now there has not been any closure for them.
Leading the family’s search for justice is a young girl who is the little sister of the deceased. Happy Ekhator, 20, tells this reporter that since the death of her brother last year, she and her immediate elder brother Kelly has been carrying out their own investigations, speaking with friends and other people who were close to their brother, as well as following other leads, all in a bid to unravel the actual circumstances that led to the killing of her brother.
“Unfortunately for us (me and my brother), our search for justice has made us vulnerable to threats by unknown persons who have been calling our phones and leaving graffiti on the wall to warn us of the drastic consequences that await us if we didn’t end our pursuit of the matter,” she says.
News Express investigations meanwhile traced the events leading to the slaying of Osas to his membership of a particular cult group which he renounced a year before his death.
A source told this reporter that Osas was arrested in Benin City a couple of years ago on suspicions of being in a secret cult organisation.
News Express gathers that on a visit from Bayelsa where he was a working in Ogbia as a welder, Kelly found that his elder brother was languishing in police cell. He was disappointed to discover that his brother was in a cult group, but he did everything to get him out of police cell.
After his brother's release, Kelly encouraged Osas to give up membership of the secret cult group he belonged, and took him to Bayelsa where he got a job in a company as an iron bender.
Our source further said: “Osas had honestly renounced cultism and we all thought he had settled down to a good job and a life of peace in Bayelsa.”
Unfortunately for Osas, he was laid off early last year from the firm he was working and had to return to Benin.
His return coincided with simmering political tensions as Nigeria prepared for national elections. Politicians were heavily suspected to be using cultists to intimidate rivals.
“Osas complained of receiving messages and unsolicited visits by former friends who wanted him to do one or two dirty jobs for his former cult group. I believe he made some enemies when he refused the advances of his old and evil friends,” Happy revealed.
On April 26 2015, a group of men clad in balaclava stormed the ‘three house’ Upper Sakpoba area home of the siblings and shouted some incomprehensible words as soon as they sighted Osas inside his sitting room. They brought out single barrel 'cut to size' guns and pummelled him with bullets in the presence of his helpless sister.
About a month after the incident, Kelly had to flee Nigeria after receiving threats from some unknown persons.
“Because he swore to unleash revenge on anyone who he suspected to be behind the killing of his elder brother, Osas was being seriously hunted himself. He had taken drastic steps by carrying out his own investigations after he felt that police investigations could not lead to any concrete closure,” our source said.
News Express understands that had to flee because young men are usually the targets of brutal attacks from cultists who either want to settle scores or cover their tracks. “They suspect that Kelly might join a rival group and seek reprisal. Many of these cultists are backed up by influential people and we fear that if they strike again, as they have threatened to do, they could get away with another murder in our family. They’ve got strong influences in high places to evade prosecution,” our source notes.
It would be recalled that some government officials were arrested in connection with the secret cult related bloodbath in April last year in Benin city.
For now Happy, whose parents are both no more, says she and her brother will continue the search for answers on the killing of her brother no matter what it takes.
•Photo shows the slain Osas (right) while he was working as an iron bender in Bayelsa.
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