Ola ‘Kiya, Reporting
WHAT ought to be a raid on drug cartels has turned awry as stray bullets allegedly from operatives of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) have left a two-year-old boy, preparing for graduation, dead and her sister in critical condition in Asaba, Delta State capital.
The tragedy occurred on Thursday when the NDLEA operatives raided a notorious drug joint at Okpanam, Oshimili North Local Government Area of the state.
The felled boy was identified as Ivan Omhonriakogbe and his younger sibling, Eromonsele.
Both were said to have just returned from school to their mother’s shop courtesy of their father, Fidelis Omorhiakogbe, in the afternoon when they were hit by stray bullets.
Stonix News gathered that while Ivan was hit in his abdomen, the pellets brushed through Eromonsele’s eye.
The victims were, thereafter, rushed to the Federal Medical Centre (FMC), Asaba, for treatment, but Ivan gave up the ghost around midnight after doctors and nurses battled to save his life.
Father of the victims, Mr. Omorhiakogbe, narrated to journalists what actually transpired on the fateful day.
“What really happened was that I went to my kids school to pick them; I then decided to drop them at the shop, the plaza close to Sweet Spirit.
“That is where my wife’s shop is located so that I could go and meet up with other of my activities so that I could come and return them home, so we could close for the day.
“So, going back to the house to pick up something, my house is just five minutes drive from the shop. Getting to my compound, my wife called me, sweet-heart, please come.
“They don’t understand whether it is bullet or anything, there is no gunshot within that environment.
“I then rushed back to the place, getting to the place, my wife called me that they are going to FMC, meet us there.
“It is like it is a gunshot because my wife said she saw my boy’s intestines coming out, even the glass that the bullet penetrated, affected my son’s eye.
“She held two of them and started shouting for help, that was when she then called me to meet them at FMC.
“As I was going to FMC, I said no, let me stop at the shop and know what was happening. When I got to the shop, I saw one Hilux Van, fully loaded with operatives of NDLEA with arms.
“I saw another Sienna, they went to turn so that they could go back to inside town not Okpanam town.
“I saw another Honda. The vehicles were all occupied by NDLEA operatives. So, they then parked close to my wife’s shop.
“According to the people around, they said they were chasing those guys that sell drugs, but the guys ran away, but I don’t know how manage the bullet got to my wife’s shop.
“So, I was trying to ask some of my neighbours. My wife just told me that there’s a gunshot that hit my boy and his intestines are coming out.
“Then one of the boys said it was the gun that was shot that touched your son. That one gave me the courage because they had already parked and trying to arrest some other boys while others ran away, the place was rowdy.
“That one gave me the courage to meet them and I was trying to take pictures and trying taking some videos. One of the boys came out and asked why I was videoing him, asking me if I am mad.
“He then cracked his gun, I then told him that the gun you people shot has killed my son, and if you want to kill me, just kill me as I won’t leave to anywhere.
“Then the guy punched me, I then held his hand. Immediately they heard that their gunshot has killed my child, they immediately entered their vans and zoomed off.
“I jumped inside my car and followed them till we got to Issele-Azagba, they then stopped while I pulled over in one filling station and they came to me.
“I told them that the gun they shot killed my son, they said they know and they have called their Commander.
“They said I should follow them to their head office in Ogwashi-Uku, getting to that place, their Oga brought them out, talked to them before coming in.
“They started pleading with me and enquired about the condition of the child and I told him that I haven’t seen him as I decided to stay around the shop to know what happened. That was when I discovered that it could be these guys who were armed.
“The Oga then said that was true. According to their Oga, he said what they told him is that they were chasing someone or that they wanted to cross then one bike or a vehicle hit the NDLEA guy, that was when the gun triggered.
“He said I should not worry and that I should go and see them first as that is the most important thing to everybody right now and that he would send one or two persons with me.
“Immediately, I left for Asaba to come and see them and they told me that they are in the theatre and they were looking for blood.
“After one and a half hour, the people that the Commander sent, then came that their Oga sent them to come and see the situation and I told them that they are trying to look for blood for him to survive.
“The blood they said we should donate is a fresh one and not the one they have in their blood bank. So, we were trying to look for among some of my friends that came around because I could not donate because I am B positive.
“So, we then we got one of my wife’s worker that is O positive. That one then donated the blood.
“We were running around and they were doing X-ray and all of that.
“About 7:00p.m to 1:00a.m, he then gave up and they told me that the child could not make it that the intestines and kidney were affected.
“The glass the gun penetrated pierced onto his eye and body, but they said he has a cut. They took him to the theatre yesterday at about 2:00a.m and they came out 6:00a.m trying to ensure that the cut and wounds are treated”.
Amid wailing, Omorhiakogbe, who said he had reported to the police, said: “We need justice for our children. We need to take it up, it cannot just go like this. I don’t even know the condition of this one. I don’t know her fate, we need justice.
“The one that died is supposed to graduate next tomorrow. They have given the graduation gown to him,” he lamented.
Meanwhile, the State Commandant of the NDLEA, Mr. John Tunde, has confirmed the incident.
He said his men did not actually open fire on the children, adding that “We can’t be that unprofessional to open fire on a shop.”
According to him, there was a Toyota Camry parked within the area when his men stormed the drug joint to raid and dislodge the place.
He said that the Camry ran over one of the operatives while trying to escape.
“In attempts to demobilise the car, our men shot at it. What we cannot tell now is whether the children were inside the car at the time of the shooting.
“Our men did not open fire at any shop. As we speak now, the man whom the car ran over, is at the Central Hospital in Ogwashi-Uku.
“Our attempt to stop the car was not successful as he escaped,” he noted.