“That very morning, I just arrived at my place of work when my daughter called me and said, ‘daddy, please come. Some people are looking for you. They said Aunty Joy is dead.”
Those were the lamentation of Amikpo Wellington, an elder brother to the late Joy Wellington, a female police sergeant, who was among the four police officers that were shot dead by a gang of gunmen on Monday, July 1, 2019 at a police station in Agudama-Ekpetiama community in Yenagoa Local Government Area of Bayelsa State.
The other victims included the Divisional Police Officer (DPO), Ola Rosanla and two policemen. Four other policemen were reportedly fatally wounded in the criminal attack by the bandits.
The police officers were on duty when the hoodlums invaded the police station in the night, at about 2am.They were said to have entered the premises of the station from the bank of the river and caught the officers unawares.
According to reports, the hoodlums reportedly seized the DPO and took him to the armoury and ensured they took all the guns and ammunition and uniforms before they forced him to kneel down and shot him dead. They were said to have thereafter, moved from one room to another searching for policemen believed to be hiding in the rooms, and found Joy and shot her dead.
Since the gory incident, the Wellington family and her community, Otuasega, in Ogbia Local Government Area of Bayelsa State, had been in agony and sorrow. They are bemoaning her death in the hands of the yet-to-be arrested gunmen. They are more pained because Joy was pregnant when she was killed.
Amikpo told Crime Tracker in an exclusive interview at his residence in Otuasega that, the entire family was anxiously waiting for the day Joy would give birth to her baby. He disclosed that Joy had lost her only female child some years ago, who was five years old, to a fatal motor accident which claimed the lives of about seven persons.
He said, “I’m the first child of our father’s children. Among us, Joy and I were very close. We were closest. I even loved Joy more than my younger sister from the same mother.
“There was nothing Joy would do without confiding in me. And there was nothing I would do without confiding in her. Even when we are not in the same place, I would call her on the phone and tell her about it. We advised each other. In family issues, Joy and I would always be on the same side with the rest members of the family on the other side.
“The week before the Monday she was killed with her colleagues, Joy came here; to my house. You know, she was seven months’ pregnant. She was always coming here. The day she came, my wife took her to a traditional birth attendant who told her that the pregnancy was stable.
“We were waiting for the day she would give birth for us to celebrate. She had a daughter 20 years ago. Unfortunately her daughter, who was five years old, died with seven other persons in a ghastly motor accident in this community. Since then, Joy did not have another pregnancy until the last one she was killed with.
“I’m aware that some persons were even making mockery of her because she was childless. But God decided to give her joy with another pregnancy she was carrying before they killed her.”
Amikpo, who struggled to contain his emotions, said he and his father’s siblings were devastated by Joy’s sudden death.
Narrating how he received the sad news, he said: “That very morning, I just arrived at my place of work when my daughter called me and said, ‘daddy, please come. Some people are looking for you. They said Aunty Joy is dead.
“I couldn’t believe it. Immediately, I started developing goose pimples. I caught cold. I was shivering. When I came back, I met my cousins in my house here. We decided to go to the police station at Agudama-Ekpetiama to actually confirm. Getting close to Tombia Junction, I decided to her phone number. When I called, another person, a lady picked the call.
“I said, ‘please, give the phone to the owner let me speak with the owner. She answered, sorry the owner (of the phone is late). I introduced myself to the lady that I’m the elder brother to Joy. So, she told me she was at the police station at Agudama-Ekpetiama.
“When we got there, I called the phone number again and the lady waved at us and I knew she was the one who answered my call. She handed Joy’s phone to me. She took me and my people to where Joy was killed. She was killed in active service; right inside the police station, not outside the police station, its painful.
“She said, ‘Look at this blood. It is Joy’s blood’. I couldn’t believe Joy was dead until we got to the mortuary. It was there and then I confirmed that my sister is no more. When I saw Joy’s corpse in the mortuary, I confirmed that the story was real. Well, she is gone! No amount of talking and crying will bring her back to life.”
Amikpo, who lamented that the brutal killing of their sister was “very, very painful”, said, God should have prevented it from happening. He further lamented that, “now she is gone and there is no child to represent her in this world.”
He described Joy as a peaceful and humble woman who never had a quarrel with anyone in Otuasega, and was also supportive to the family.
“Her death has created a vacuum in my life and the immediate family. I will live to remember her. I can’t forget her,” Amikpo added.
Corroborating him, Benita Opia, a cousin, said that Joy, who was about 39 years, was, “naturally peace-loving, quiet and easy-going sister who minded her own business and was supportive to the family and seriously committed to her police job.
“Joy was my first cousin. Her mother is my mother’s younger sister. But she lost her mom when she was five years old. After her mom’s death, she lived with us; we grew up together under my mother. So, she was more like a sister than a cousin to me.
“At 13, my uncle came and took her to live with him in Port Harcourt before she returned and joined the Nigeria Police Force. Because she did well in her job, she was given an award some years ago,” Opia said.
Describing the killing of Joy as horrible, she said the departed policewoman had left behind the four children of her half-elder sister she was catering for after their mother died several years ago.
Opia, who noted that Joy’s death was “a big blow to the family”, said that the family had made efforts to have Joy’s corpse released to them “but the police authorities are insisting on carrying out an autopsy, which is actually delaying her burial.
“At first, they (police authorities) asked us to carry out the autopsy. Later I called the police officer we spoke with asked why we should be the one to carry out an autopsy on our sister. She died in active service. Why should the family take care of the autopsy?
“Though while he (police officer) was talking with us, he said they would partner with some people that would be of assistance”, she said.
Asinim Butswat, a Superintendent of Police (SP) and spokesman of the Bayelsa State Police Command, said that they were “seriously working” to bring to book the killers of the four police officers.
He appealed to members of the public to also assist the police with useful information that would aid investigation into the incident.