Rivers Rerun Polls: How NYSC Member, Samuel Okonta, Was Killed

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Samuel Okonta

• It was a rude shock, says brother • Killers will not go unpunished, vows FG • NYSC may review MoU with INEC

Adebiyi Adedapo in Abuja
Details emerged on Tuesday on how a member of the National Youth Service Corps, Mr. Samuel Dumebi Okonta, a graduate of Political Science from Ambrose Ali University, Ekpoma, Edo State, was murdered in cold blood on Saturday night.

Okonta, who hailed from Illah community in Idemili North Local Government Area, Anambra State, served as the Assistant Presiding Officer (APO II) for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)at Ukpeliede Town Hall, Ward 6, Unit 5 in Ahoada West Local Government during the last Saturday’s rerun elections in Rivers State.

THISDAY learnt that the deceased was trailed and killed after he had submitted the election results to the local government office of INEC in Ahoada West.

Okonta’s colleague, Anana Aniekan Udoetor, who narrated what transpired after votes were cast, said he was in the company of the late Okonta departing INEC’s office when his killers tracked them and shot sporadically at them.

Udoetor, who spoke to THISDAY on the phone, explained that they had concluded their duty and were on their way back to Ukpeliede, when the unfortunate incident occurred.
“I was the APO I, while Okonta was the APO II at the Ukpeliede town hall, Ward 6, Unit 5, we had conducted the elections peacefully without even the presence of security agents.

“We proceeded to the INEC collation centre to submit our results, on reaching there, the environment was tense and supporters of both APC and PDP were charged. We managed to submit our results, but while we were submitting them, there was an alarm of skirmishes, forcing the collation officers to hide under the table,” he disclosed.

Anana said the situation at the INEC local government secretariat seemed unsafe, which prompted him and his late friend to take the risk of travelling back to Ukpeliede.

“We felt that the INEC office was no longer safe, so we then made our way to Ndiama junction and took a taxi to Okode junction. We were supposed to board a (commercial) motorcycle, but we couldn’t get one, so we decided to trek down to Ukpeliede.

“Shortly after, we saw a vehicle coming and we noticed that the head lamps of the vehicle was not on and someone in the vehicle was pointing a torchlight at us.

“We suddenly realised that the vehicle was coming directly towards us and before we knew what was happening, we started hearing gunshots. I ran inside the bush but they kept on shooting. Okonta was killed in the process.
“I stayed in the bush for some minutes and later ran into an uncompleted building which is used as a church,” he said.

When contacted, Samuel’s elder brother, Azuka, could not speak on the death of his sibling, stating that he was on his way to Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, to see his late brother’s corpse.

However, his younger brother, Uche, who works as a software engineer in Lagos, said he was still in shock following the news of his brother’s death.
Uche, who is the only younger brother of the deceased, said the late Samuel was an easy-going God-fearing young man, who was often referred to by his friends as a pastor.

“We are nine in number from the same parents, our father died in 1993 and our mother in 2012. I am the last child, while Samuel was my immediate elder brother, he was very calm and easy-going.

“He attended Ugbede Memorial Primary school, Illah; then proceeded to Illah Grammar School and later Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma. People usually referred to him as a pastor because of his calm disposition and neat dressing. But he was just an usher in the church,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Minister of Youth and Sports Solomon Dalung and Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission, Prof. Mahmud Yakubu yesterday paid a condolence visit to the NYSC headquarters in Abuja following the death of the youth corps member.

In his remarks during the visit, Dalung appealed to politicians to guard against any act that will lead to the death of Nigerians because, according to him: “If everyone dies, who will be alive to cast the votes.”

He added that: “In this our game of politics, we must understand that match officials, and spectators are not the opponents. We must not direct our anger towards the wrong people.”
The minister who said that there was an insurance policy covering NYSC members on election duty under the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the INEC and the NYSC, promised that government would ensure that perpetrators of the dastardly act would not go unpunished.

“I’m sure there is an insurance policy covering corps members, but this government will not condone impunity, government will go against the killers and ensure that they are brought to book,” he stated.

Yakubu, while condoling with the NYSC, said there was no elective position that was worth the blood of anybody.

Yakubu said the partnership of the two agencies was important as the use of corps members during the conduct of elections in the country has led to their success and smooth process.
He also said that the commission would grant automatic employment to ex-corps members, Abiagbe Daniel who lost his sight in an accident while carrying out election duties in Yobe State.

“We are here to commiserate with the NYSC family, and we pray that the soul of the late Okonta Samuel rests in peace. At the same time, we are glad to note that the other corps member, Anana Aniekan Udoetor, who could not be accounted for has been found alive but is understandably traumatised.

“I wish to state that we share in your grief; it pains INEC profoundly when life is lost in the cause of conducting ordinary elections. No matter the grievances of those involved in a political contest, nothing justifies the cold blooded murder of an innocent official conducting an official national assignment,” he said.

Yakubu also described youth corps members involved in election processes as the most patriotic and neutral electoral staff.

“The NYSC and INEC have been in this mutually rewarding partnership, which has helped in the conduct of our elections. I can’t imagine the successful conduct of elections in Nigeria without the partnership of the NYSC.

“The young men and women in the NYSC are among the most educated, most committed, most reliable, most neutral and most patriotic election duty staff available to INEC. Their loss is certainly of monumental national proportion, I want to assure you that INEC will fully participate in honoring the sacrifices of Mr. Okonta Samuel, and other members of the NYSC who may suffer injury or worse during election duty,” he said.

Responding, the Director General of NYSC, Brigadier General Olawunmi Johnson said his organisation would review its security arrangements for corps members, especially those involved in election duty.

Olawumi also announced that a committee would investigate the unfortunate incident, noting that the outcome of the investigation would determine whether or not the NYSC would review its memorandum of understanding with the INEC.

“I have set up a committee to fully investigate the issue, the report of that committee would determine if we have to review our MoU with INEC. But it is a shame on the Rivers State Government and community leaders where this happened. We are going to get to the root of the matter,” he said.

  • fld8778

    This is what happens when you vote thugs in public offices as leaders

  • Ogooluwa George

    Don’t use corpers again enough is enough

  • raji

    And very sad Wike and his co travellers where seen yesterday dancing

  • signipote

    Amaechi is a blood succker

  • Tea

    Killing of NYSC corpers has always happened whenever GMB and his pple are involved in elections. If you are truthful to yourself you will release that the PDP is on ground in Rivers. It became bloody bcos APC wants to challenge and force a crisis to declare a FG backed State of Emergency. Amaechi and Co went round the town with Army escort. The FG deployed over 6000 security personnel, 3 commissioners of police and an AIG. So who is too blame for the lose of lives? This is not a Jamb question

  • Segun

    It is quite unfortunate that political aspirants in this part of the world cannot differentiate between their so called political enemies and those called to serve their fatherland. It is even most pathetic to observe that those aspiring to be our leader do not have any iota of sympathy for human life, not even for the youth, who are expected to be the leaders of tomorrow.

  • oau

    BUHARI AND WHATEVER PARTY HE BELONGS TO,HAVE THE CHARACTERISTICS OF VIOLENCE.HE HAS BEEN INCITING VIOLENCE ANYTIME HE LOSES RIGHT FROM OBASANJO’S TENURE.WHEN HE LOST IN 2011,HE INCITED THE KILLING OF CORPERS IN THE NORTH.WILL HE/HIS SUPPORTERS DENY THIS? BOKO HARAM ESCALATION IN NIGERIA STARTED WITH BUHARI”S DEFEAT IN 2011.NO WONDER,HE IS DINING WITH PEOPLE LIKE OCCULTIC, DEMONIC, KILLER AMAECHI

  • Chizi Amadi

    I give my sincere condolences to his family. May his soul rest in peace.

  • tadi

    Who gave soldiers to Amaechi? We seen videos of Ameachi and Dakuku Abducting an electoral officer and carting away electoral materials like the scene of Ikwerre LGA with the aid of heavily armed soldiers. Are these not electoral offences? Are these videos not in public domain? What has happened to Amaechi and Dakuku? Do they also have immunity?

    • ZINNI

      Best coment of the day

  • Jumpingbrook

    Minister Dalung, take off that your red-beret, go for Amaechi’s jugular at the next EXCO meeting, right in front of all ministers and President Buhari, give Amaechi a sucker punch, doing that will final sink that message into Baba Buhari’s skull that Amaechi is a criminal plus a killer

  • koncern

    well the story back home is somewhat different from most published account of the incident in rivers and it has been alleged that some nysc were working as thugs for both parties. I have no doubt in my mind that that is possible as I have experienced that in the last general election.

  • isaac orogun

    This is quite pathetic. I pray that God will grant the family the grace to bear this loss. Nevertheless this trading of blame between the two major political parties regarding whose thugs killed this patriotic Corper is now not necessary because one of them must have won in this Local Government while the other lost. The winner is not likely to have gone to attack the corpers. Therefore, the police should fish out the result sheets submitted by this Corper from INEC and find out who the winners and losers were. That is where investigation should begin from if we sincerely want to get to the root of this matter. Police, over to you.

  • chukwu michael

    The loser of the election in that area should be held responsible.

  • Jon West

    So, government will track and arrest those who perpetrated this heinous crime? That is news to me. The Certificateless One was responsible for the death of several Youth Corpers when he lost the 2011 elections and till today nothing has been done to anybody, in spite of the Lamu Committee recommendations. Nothing will also happen this time and it behoves on the authorities of the NYSC to stop putting their wards in harm’s way during elections in Nigeria, which are always violent in some parts of the country.
    I feel very sorry for the Okontas but like the Chibok Girls, their son is a victim of Nigeria’s descent to anomie. Hopefully his blood will not be shed in vain as his death could be a pointer to the last days of Nigeria as we know it.

  • Rev

    Please I beg the federal government, irrespective of political persuasion, to track down and gravely punish the scoundrels and nincompoops who took the life of this young man. Imagine the investment that has been poured into the life of this gentleman by the parents and well wishers only to be snuffed by the wanton greed and mindlessness of criminals???
    Wow!!!