Family of slain Edo pastor accuses police of negligence

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Alexander Okere, Benin

The family of the late Pastor Pius Eromosele, who was killed by suspected herdsmen in Ovia North-East Local Government Area of Edo State, has faulted comments by the Nigeria Police that the deceased died in the hands of kidnappers.

The family also accused the state police command of negligence, which it said was responsible for the failure by the security agency to rescue the late cleric.

Eromosele, said to be a pastor of the Church of God Mission in Benin, had been killed by unknown gunmen, suspected to be Fulani herdsmen, after he and two of his workers were whisked away from his farm in Odighi community on March 29.

The body of the deceased was said to have been discovered with deep cuts in the bush by a search team comprising hunters and vigilantes on April 2.

It was gathered that the assailants had demanded a ransom of N4m, but later reduced it to N2m before killing their victim.

Sources said the two workers, identified as Kingsley Emmanuel and Akpan Emmanuel, however, escaped with injuries.

The incident led to a protest by angry youths from the community, who stormed the Government House with the remains of the late pastor in a coffin and placards, demanding the arrest and prosecution of the perpetrators.

In his reaction, the Commissioner of Police in Edo State, Mr. Johnson Kokumo, had stated that the incident was a case of kidnapping.

But the eldest son of the deceased, Richard, insisted that his late father was murdered not by kidnappers but by herdsmen, who, he said, had accused the cleric of killing their cattle.

He said, “His (Kokumo) statement implied that he was in communication with the kidnappers or murderers in the course of their operation; he should be called to show such communication.

“The two herdsmen stated that they were sent by one Alhaji to kill Pastor Pius for killing their cattle. They showed them a picture of the said Alhaji.

“We got to know of his abduction in the night of the same day. The herdsmen called to make a demand of N4m for his release; we spoke to them (and) heard their voices.”

But Kokumo explained that though the late cleric was killed by armed men disguised as herdsmen, the herdsmen committed the act as persons engaged in criminal activities rather than in the course of tendering cattle or in a crisis with farmers.

He, however, said  investigation into the case had not been concluded.

The CP said, “The young man’s statement is not fair to the police because the police did all they could to rescue the man. It was unfortunate that he died; but that does not mean that investigation to fish out the perpetrators has been concluded.”

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