“How Oghenovo Died to Police Brutality” – Mute Gadin (Sister)
On the 15th of June 2019. My (kid) brother came to visit us. He never said it but I sensed he was trying in his little way to fill the void my sister Eguono left when she passed. His visits were really comforting even if I never said it to him, he knew and always made sure he came to spend the weekend with us. We would just sit and talk unending about Eguono. On sundays, He would drive us to church and then on Mondays, to school. Before leaving back to his place .
But that weekend was different, he did not come on a Friday as he usually would, but called and promised to be there on Saturday which he did. As usual, he drove me to do my shopping for the week, we got home and had lunch (as in we actually sat on the table to eat together ). Hmmmmmm.
When we were done, he spent quality time with the twins; running around and all. Took Some of Yabo’s toy cars and got them working (Yabo loves cars), replacing batteries for those that needed change and charging some. When he was done, he left to the guest room to nap a little.
At about 4pm, I was going up to my room and we met half way and he was all dressed up. He said he needed to attend to something so he had to leave.
Something did not feel right but I just thought it was me being selfish about who was going to drive me around the next day. Anyway, when he was leaving , because we did not want the kids to cry , he had to sneak through the back door to avoid all the drama. I saw him leave and for some reason I wasn’t happy. Looking back now I wish I insisted on him not going.
Normally, he would call to tell me he was home and if he didn’t I would call. Somehow , I got busy and forgot to call.
At exactly 9:11 I got a recorded message he had sent . I listened to it but could not make sense out of it. It was an argument he was having with some people obviously at the station not wanting them to know he was recording.
I called immediately and was relived when he picked. He said he had boarded a taxi but unfortunately he landed in the hands of the people they call “ one chance”.
From what I was able to deduce he had struggled with them and actually found a way to get to the police station with the conviction he was going to be safe there . But guess what? The tables turned. (He was now the accused).
Ghenovo assured me he was going to call me back as soon as he was out of the police station and I had nothing to worry about and that he had actually called a friend to come over to be with him.
After an hour, when I did not get a call from him, I called but it rang out. I then tried calling one his friends to please go check at the masaka police station (Abuja) where he was but unfortunately he was out of town.
While I was still trying to get the number of the friend he said he had called to be with him, Ghenovo’s number began calling me. This was around past midnight.
When I picked, it was not Ghenovo but his friend crying and saying I needed to come over as Ghenovo was on the floor foaming in the mouth and they had refused him to take him to the hospital.
I managed to get another friend to get there and he also met the same situation and in fact the first friend was also detained. I pleaded to talk to who was in charge in the station and the police office in charge refused to talk to me. In my frustration I asked him to put his phone on speaker and I was screaming at the top of my voice while crying that I had just buried my sister and If anything happened to my brother I will fight this to the end. It was at that point they allowed his friend to take him and thankfully a family friend had driven all the way to take him to the hospital.
My long epistle is not easy to write as a lot happened in between and the wound is still very very fresh.
I hardly sleep because the scene of my brother fighting even in his unconscious state while at the hospital is something one can’t forget in a hurry. When he eventually came round, it was hard for him to speak and I could see he was still upset . I did not allow him tell me what he encountered although he demonstrated how he was hit on his mouth because it was still swollen. (An action I still regret). I tried reassuring him that we were going to follow up as soon as he felt better. It was clear that he was so upset with what happened. The night before he passed, he cried so profusely. It was really heart breaking but I concentrated on him being in a place of forgiveness and peace.
Truth be told the police failed him. The police failed us as a family.
A place he ran to be safe ended up being a place he was tortured and eventually died at the hospital after days of the trying to keep him alive.
My brother wasn’t perfect but he did not deserve what he went through.
How can my family ever feel safe when it comes to the police? I cringe anytime I have to come face to face with one. How do we move on when we still have unanswered questions?
Postscript: This story was taken from Mute Gadin Facebook Page and published with permission from her. Mute tells me privately that they never did uncover what happened between Oghenovo and the police. But it is likely that when he arrived the Masaka Police station with the “One Chance” people, those people turned the table of accusation on him. Probably while protesting his innocence, the police attacked him physically. Mute also explains that he might have been made to ingest the mosquito repellent he had asked a friend to bring to him while in detention. Oghenovo’s lungs failed a few days into his admission at the hospital and he died from his inability to breathe.
Incidentally, I grew up in ABU, Zaria, staff quarters, with Mute Gadin and her other siblings in the 1980/90s. This family had only just lost another sibling just six months before their kid brother perished to police brutality. #EndSARS now.