The Lagos girl who fought off carjackers with a broken bag of potatoes

She received his naked body and laid him on the ground for five minutes, at the toll gate on February 19 last year, laying there, grimacing, pleading and shouting for help. When help finally came, two policemen tried to attack the grieving woman. “They slapped me on the face and I retaliated with an iron rod and they ran,” Chinyere Okeke recalls. “I saw them scuffle with the other female family member, and that is when I took a cell phone, and I called the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA) patrol team at the toll gate.”

An officer from the job had pulled the other woman out of the way after being pummeled. In that moment Chinyere Okeke’s “life collapsed”. “When they came, they took the body away, while I remained there. When I went back to the edge of the road, I saw the policemen attacking my other daughter, who was dying. In that moment, I lost consciousness,” she said.

“They came back with their gun, and they hit me on the back with it. They hit me to the back of my head, and I fell down, it was on my way down that I fell.”

When Okeke’s younger sister rushed to her side, she saw her younger brother lying naked on the ground, who was so dishevelled, the elderly woman who had fallen on him had even written a statement about it.

Okeke fled the scene and the last time Okeke saw her younger brother that night, he was still alive. She told her younger sister that she needed help getting them to the hospital.

“They didn’t want to hear that. They wanted to pick him up because they didn’t think he was dead.”

The family members, however, tried to stop them. Her elder brother Mark admitted that they were merely trying to defend themselves.

“We should have remained at home as the gridlock was around eight o’clock at night. That’s when it became a problem for the police and LASTMA to force entry and exit to the toll gate and we were then put on the truck because the truck driver wanted to pay. He was arrogant and he kicked and scratched us and forced his way into our house.

Okeke said that at the scene she spotted a unit commander, Solomon Ukpabi, in mufti.

“We were holding his hands and begging him to let the team go because his guns were already loaded. We didn’t want to use the gadgets, we wanted to let them go because they were not supposed to be at the scene. And he did not yield to our cries and threats to shoot. He had already called the FMC (Federation of Physically Challenged People) which we think was also under the command of his men and where we were taken by the policemen was the location of the FMC.”

Okeke said that Ukpabi conspired with the policemen on duty to dump them at FMC – a place that she thinks the policemen nicknamed their own.

“While my brother was in the truck, he wailed and pleaded for his life and he heard us asking the driver to stop the truck. The truck became unmotivated as he was crying and pleading. They were fighting among themselves, the driver had apparently hit one of them on the chest, they were all carrying their guns and one of them started shooting him.

The husband of their younger sister told journalists that they were forced to take them to hospital as the police did not allow them to take them to the hospital

Okeke had earlier been released, by the police officers from a spot where she was arrested, but they were not allowed to take her to the hospital. “It was the duty commander who finally directed me to take my younger brother to the hospital,” Okeke said.

When her younger brother was finally put on the ambulance, Chinyere begged his murderer to release him before he was taken away to receive treatment.

“I begged him and they released him. They didn’t check the colour of his skin. He had a terrible scar down his back where he had been punched and the other man had been shocked on the side of his face.”

The next morning, just like what her father and other members of the family thought was impossible, they were called by men who claimed to be from the Lagos State Medical Examiner’s Office to attend to the body.

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