It’s been close to two years since a policeman who shot and killed young Chukwubuike Onuoha was last seen.
Chukwubuike Onuoha was only 23-years-old when the police killed him. He had just finished writing his Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination, in preparation of getting into the university.
Chukwubuike loved school, and always dreamt of going to university. Although he was strong and hard-working enough to do any type of manual work, he had his eyes fixed on higher education. And he was intelligent too. “Mama,” his mother Onyinyechi Grace Onuoha remembers him saying, “I want to be a doctor.”
Onyinyechi firmly believes he would have become one had he not been shot and killed by Sergeant Collins Apugo, an officer attached to the Special Protection Unit (SPU) of the Nigeria Police Force, Abia State Command.
The incident happened on the 3rd of June, 2019, in Okwulagha Afara Ukwu community, in the Umuahia North Local Government Area of Abia state.
That Monday night, Chukwubuike was standing in front of his late father’s compound with his elder brother, Kenneth, when Sergeant Apugo, who was driving in a patrol vehicle, flashed his headlight at them.
Chukwubuike asked Sergeant Apugo to dim his light, and this angered the policeman. Armed with a pistol, he alighted from the car and shot Chukwubuike in the chest.
Kenneth accosted Sergeant Apugo, but the latter threatened to shoot him too. Kenneth quickly left the scene to inform the youth of the community about the incident. When the youth arrived, Sergeant Apugo had fled the crime scene, having already shot Chukwubuike a second time, leaving him a pool of blood.
Some of the youth tried transporting Chukwubuike to the Federal Medical Centre, Umuahia, but he died from gunshot wounds before they got there. Meanwhile, the other youth left on the scene set the patrol vehicle, which Sergeant Apugo had left behind, on fire.
Onyinyechi is a 50-year-old widow. Chukwubuike was her fourth son. He was buried on October 17, 2019, four months after his untimely death.
For Onyinyechi, living as a single mother and surviving on a meagre income from sweeping streets in Umuahia, was a struggle – a real miracle – to raise my children, including Chukwubuike.
“I can’t believe my boy is gone. I can’t believe he was taken away from me just like that,” she says.
Onyinyechi says she has been searching for Sergeant Apugo so that he can tell her why he killed her son, but the Police Force has claimed that he is nowhere to be found.
“I am not concerned about what the government or the police will do for me, because it certainly won’t replace my son,” she says, adding, “There is nothing anybody will give me now that will take the place of my son. I just want everyone who reads this to help me find that wicked officer, who has conveniently gone missing ever since he shot my son.”
“That Sergeant knows our compound very well,” she continues. “I want him to come here. I want to see him face to face. I want to ask him why – just why – he killed my son. That is all.”
For Onyinyechi, whenever she remembers Chukwubuike, anger and bitterness swells up in her heart towards Sergeant Apugo.
“I can’t help it,” she says. “That man has robbed me of a lot.”
Everybody in the community, both young and old, knew the late Chukwubuike to be a good person, his mother says. According to her, from Union Primary, where he attended primary school, to Evangel High, Old Umuahia, where he attended secondary school, he was well-known and well-loved.
“I love all my children,” Onyinyechi says, “but Chukwubuike’s character was special. He was so caring. Anytime he went out, he would buy things, especially bread and beverages, for me. “Mama, take and eat,” he would say. There was nothing he could do to upset me, because I loved him so much, just as much as he loved me.”
“There are things my son would have done for me that the government can never do for me. What can the government really do for me? Compensation money that will eventually run out?”
“I want the government and the police to bring my son back. That is all I want – let them bring Chukwubuike back to me,” his mother says.