SaharaTV spoke exclusively with a witness to the brutal murder of Benson Ogedegbe by soldiers attached to the 19th Battalion stationed at Koko Military Base in Ethiope West Area, Delta State. The witness asked SaharaTV to not use his name, for fear of retaliation from the military and criminals in the area; and his voice was altered so that he could not be recognized by the public.
It was learned earlier this week that Benson Ogedegbe, the local Chairman of the Oghara Vigilante Group, was gunned down in broad daylight by Lance Corporal Obinna of the 19th Battalion. The extrajudicial murder was ordered by his Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Aminu Umar, and he was accompanied by a Captain Femi and three other soldiers.
It is now known that Benson Ogedegbe was assassinated by members of the 19th Battalion because he was a police informant giving information on how Lt. Col. Umar and his men were working with notorious crime boss Onoriode “Onos” Okerhibo. The 19th Battalion had been making money off of Onos’s illicit activities in the area, and had been providing him with protection when he kidnapped for ransom, murdered Delta residents, jacked vehicles, and stole oil from the pipelines running through the Oghara area.
The unnamed witness told SaharaTV that “before now [Benson’s murder] there has been a lot of set up against him [Benson Ogedegbe] by the military. The military wanted was for him to be out of their way.” The witness was referring to how the military had been hunting for Benson in the weeks before his murder, though Benson evaded capture by hiding in the police station. The military had even arrested Benson’s eldest son to lure him out of hiding.
When the witness recounted Benson’s murder he said “I was right there. We started hearing gunshots. We came out and we saw by the mechanic workshop. Five military men came out of the vehicle and started giving orders and at that moment they beat him mercilessly. They treated him not as a human but as an animal. They shot him directly in his tummy. The guy was lying down lifeless on the ground.”
He added that “Benson Ogedegbe’s [death was] a clear execution, it’s not as if they wanted to arrest him or investigate him. I have seen a soldier arresting an armed man before and he wasn’t executed. How can someone that has no weapons fight four men?”
The witness also confirmed the relationship between Onoriode “Onos” Okerhibo, the local crime boss, and the 19th Battalion. He said the military had been working “with a notorious criminal [Onos] that is from Delta State.” He later added that the criminal is from Otumara Area of Delta State.
He also mentioned that the entire community knows about a “concentration camp” at the Koko Military base and urged SaharaTV and SaharaReporters to “send a reporter to investigate, they will see it for themselves.” Other sources have told SaharaTV and SaharaReporters that there are sometimes around 30 people held unlawfully in this camp at the military base.
When asked what was needed to restore the safety of the community in Etiope West, the witness told SaharaTV that “the military must be investigated especially the CO Umar,” he added that the only way to have justice is for an intervention from powerful figures in Abuja, the capital of Nigeria.