The family of an ex-medical student of the Jiangxi University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, China, Evaristus Tochukwu-Aligwe, is still in sorrow after suspected gunmen shot him dead in Enugu State on May 7, 2022.
Our correspondent gathered from family sources close to the incident that Tochuwku-Aligwe went out to buy groceries when he was killed.
The incident, it was gathered, occurred at Four Corners Junction, Ozalla, Enugu State.
It was gathered that the young medical student was shot four times in the chest before his car was stolen by the criminals.
An eyewitness identified only as Ndukwe said, “I operate a Point on Sale by the junction and I was there in the shop that Saturday when it happened. It was around 9 pm and I was attending to a customer when I heard gunshots from across the road.
“I and others ran there to see what was happening and we saw a young man covered in a pool of his own blood on the floor. His car was taken by the gunmen and another man was shouting for help.
“After a few minutes, a tricycle rider offered to take him to the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital, Enugu, but we later learnt that he didn’t make it. He died before he got there.”
Another source who gave his name as Fabian Nnadi, said the young man just returned to Enugu for an exchange programme in UNTH, Enugu before he met his death.
“He was in China but COVID-19 forced him to return. We were good friends and I knew we chatted when he was going to return to Enugu. I even advised him against it but he said he wanted to know his roots. It was not even up to two years after his return that he was shot dead,” Nnadi said.
One of the sisters of the late student who spoke on condition of anonymity because she was not authorised by the family to speak on the matter, said the deceased was only 25 years old when he died.
“He was born on November 11, 1997. He was schooling at the University of Port Harcourt for about a year before he was offered admission in China. He was studying Pharmacy in UNIPORT but we (family) didn’t want that for him. He wasn’t able to get medicine at UNIPORT, so he was sent abroad to study.
“It is sad for us as a family that after struggling to raise millions of naira to send my brother to school in China, they (gunmen) waited for him to graduate and ended his life,” the sobbing sister said.
Explaining why the victim returned to Nigeria, the sister said, “He had returned to Nigeria when COVID happened. That was in 2020. The surge was much in Asia so many international students were urged to return to their countries where they would be taught online for the next year.
“He did that till the end of the year before applying for the exchange programme at the UNTH, Enugu, alongside some of his colleagues. He chose UNTH because we are actually from Enugu State but are not really that close to our roots.
“I remember we spoke about it and he said he just wanted to be close to his fatherland, being away for such a long time, schooling in China.”
She further said that the deceased medical student moved to Enugu and rented an apartment around the busy Four Corners Junction, Ozalla, Enugu, where he lived and was killed.
On how the family heard the news of the incident, she said, “It was one of the colleagues who called us and told us that our brother was shot and was being rushed to the hospital.
“I almost fainted. I didn’t know what to do and I didn’t want anyone to panic. So, I called my other sisters and they relayed the information to my parents. They (parents) were so devastated that they asked that we find out where he was so we could go see him.
“In fact, my mum had even fallen sick almost immediately. One can imagine sending a child to China to study medicine and when he is about to begin his life, he is cut off like a fickle flower! It is sad indeed.”
She noted that the lady who called her told her that her brother went out with a friend, who drove behind him when the gunmen attacked and shot only Evaristus.
“What we know as a family is that Evaristus had gone out that day with his friend and they ended up buying some food at a place in Enugu. It was on their way home that they were attacked by the gunmen. In fact, it was my brother who was attacked. The friend was driving behind him and he said he saw the gunmen in their car, trying to overtake my brother’s car.
“Evaristus’ friend said he was honking for my brother to run away but he (Evaristus) was not fast enough. He wasn’t able to run away. They (gunmen) overtook him, packed right in front of his car, cajoled him and shot him four times in his chest. They came with their own vehicle and some of them drove off in his car,” she added.
She also noted that an eyewitness told her that she heard Evaristus begging for his life before his attackers shot him and left him for dead.
“It happened close to his house. So, some neighbours came out and saw my brother trying to breathe. He was on the ground in a pool of his own blood. The friend was said to have run to the police station to report the case. It was on the way to the hospital that my brother gave up the ghost. He was pronounced dead on arrival by the doctors.
“They initially didn’t tell us this, but when they did tell us, my world stopped for a moment. July 7 makes it two months since he passed and you can imagine the strings of emotions going on in my mind. He was a lovely boy and didn’t deserve that kind of painful death.”
She added that his Toyota Camry car was found a few days later a few streets away from where the incident took place and all the valuables in the car were intact.
“Our family is in mourning. I call on the Inspector General of Police, the Minister of Police Affairs, the Attorney General of the Federation, the Minister of Youth and others who can help us to come to our aid.
Contacted on June 25, 2022, the state police spokesperson, ASP Daniel Ndukwe-Ekea, said he was driving and would get back to our correspondent when he alighted. He, however, asked our correspondent to narrate the incident to him, which he did. He later said he was unaware of the incident and would get across to the Divisional Police Officer for information.
“I don’t know anything about any young man shot dead in that place,” he said.
Our correspondent called again on July 27 but the phone line rang out. Text messages were sent on that day but they weren’t replied. It was for Saturday, July 2 and Wednesday, July 6, when this reporter called the police spokesperson for the command’s reaction.
Reacting to the development, the victim’s sister said, “The police cannot say they are not aware of the matter. No one has been arrested.’’ Sunday PUNCH learnt that the victim was buried a few days after the incident in his hometown in Enugu.
A colleague of Evaristus, Najeeb Maigatari, in a tribute sent to Sunday PUNCH, on behalf of his colleagues, said Evaristus was the Assistant Class Representative for his class, noting that it was devastating for the class to hear of his demise.
Some human rights lawyers urged the family to petition the Inspector General of Police if the state command was not attending to the matter.
An Abuja-based lawyer, Mr Hussani Hussani, said the nation’s security system was seriously failing to guarantee safety of the citizens. He said, “Nonetheless, the law is what holds our bond together as law-abiding citizens. I advise the family of the victim to urgently report the matter to the police station where the incident is suspected to have occurred. Information should also be given about any suspected individual to the police. However, if the police failed to take action, a petition should be written to the Inspector General of Police, and where there is no action, the family may go to court to seek an order compelling the police to act.”
Another lawyer, Mrs Selena Onuoha, said the family should not only petition the IG but also sue the state command if it failed to carry out its duties.
“The job of the police is to protect life and property. They did not do so and this young doctor-in-the-making lost his life at a junction that is supposed to be manned by police officials. Two months is enough time to launch a probe into the matter and if the police are cooperating, the family should take them up. It’s human life we are talking about. We should not joke about it,” she said.