Nigerians have started donating to raise funds for the family of a late Nigerian policeman, Sergeant Chukwudi Iboko, who died after the robbery of a Zenith Bank branch on Wetheral Road, Owerri, Imo State.
The cop lost his life after confronting a four-man gang in a gun battle, which was captured on a Closed Circuit Television camera.
In the 2.58 minutes video, the victim could be seen firing at the robbers before running out of a security post.
He was reported to have been injured during the incident and was admitted to a hospital where he died the following day.
Although the incident happened in February, the video clip was not released to the public until June, when it went viral on the social media.
Chukwudi’s widow, Mrs. Rose Iboko, told The PUNCH that the police authorities abandoned her and her eight children, adding that they had been suffering since their breadwinner died.
Rose lamented that one of the children, Chukwuebuka, slumped and died from shock during Chuwkwudi’s burial.
Following the SOS from the family, some readers urged The PUNCH to set up a GoFundMe account to raise money for the family.
A reader, with the alias, Full Blooded Nigeria, said, “Let PUNCH Newspaper, which is noted for this sort of social cause, assist in setting up a charity for the family. Just handle the administrative leg, Nigerians, including me, are ready to support the family. Please help save the future of these children.”
Another reader, Hassan Lawal, indicated interest in supporting the cause.
Another poster, who identified himself only as elvis, asked The PUNCH to set up the fund raising account and make the account number public.
“PUNCH, please help set up a fund raising account for them and send out the account numbers. Many of us are willing to contribute here. This is just pathetic. Living in this hell of a country where government and organisations don’t care,” he added.
One Abby, who called out Zenith Bank for only handling the burial of the deceased cop, challenged the company to place the widow on a life salary, adding that it would go a long way in helping the family.
He said, “Zenith Bank is a big bank. They should respond through their CSR to things like this. Putting this woman on a salary of N70,000 per month and for life will go a long way. Just ask her to walk into a Zenith Bank and open an account. Give her an ATM card. It is that simple.”
A Twitter user, @stannwasky, said lack of welfare by the police discouraged operatives from fighting crimes.
He wrote, “I think (it) is time the government did something about the welfare package of our security operatives. What is Zenith Bank doing to assist the cops?”
Another poster, @elohex, wrote, “I believe banks should set up an insurance scheme for their armed and unarmed security personnel.”
Buki O., with a Twitter handle, @Survivor17, said Iboko’s plight was the saddest story she ever read.
“I weep for Nigeria,” she added.
Area Scatter, @ikez400, wrote, “This is why we won’t blame police(men) for running away from scene of crime. Where is the police commission?”
A Facebook user, Donald Oiga Ibelieve, said the policeman would have been properly attended to if he was a politician.
He said, “Let a senator has injury or even whitlow on the thumb, he will be flown abroad for medical treatment; this poor policeman may have died as a result of inability to seek decent medical treatment. Sad”
In response to the overwhelming call, The PUNCH Newspapers, together with some social activitists, led by Kayode Ogundamisi, raised a GoFundMe account.
As of 11.07pm on Sunday, the account, which targets to raise $15,000 for the family, had realised $6,956 as contributions from 132 people.
The donors included Idowu Lawanson ($100); Emmanuel Fabelurin($5); Anonymous ($25); O Adewusi ($100); Olumide Okegbenro ($20); Adekunle Ogunsade ($20); Anonymous ($30); Funso Oyelohunnu ($25); Abiola Olaifa ($10); Derick Agbontaen ($50); Johnson Akinsehinwa ($50).
Social activist, Ogundamisi, has been in the forefront of raising funds to support the family.
Having raised N200,000 for the rent of the Ibokos, Ogundamisi campaigned vigorously on Twitter for Nigerians to join in the GoFundMe appeal.
The activist, who also supported with $150, said, “Hoping this little token will help in supporting the family of Sergeant Chukwudi Iboko and his brave colleagues. Hopefully, Zenith Bank and the Nigeria Police Force will do what is right and make sure the bravery of Chukwudi is recognised. We saw the bravery of our police officers on social media; we have criticised them a lot of time, but Chukwudi’s gallantry represents a number of unseen heroes in the police force.”
One Philip Obin, who replied to Ogundamisi’s tweet, said a friend of his had indicated interest in sponsoring the education of the children.
“I have someone willing to sponsor the education of one of the children from primary to university. Kindly link me up with their mother@mobilepunch,” he tweeted.
APC United Kingdom, in its tweet, called on Nigerians to donate to the fund.
A blogger, Ifeanyi Njoku, said he would be handing over N500,000 to the widow of the deceased cop on Monday.
He said, “A friend of mine who was touched by the plight of the widow raised the money. I have met the state Commissioner of Police and it has been agreed that the N500,000 be handed over to the woman tomorrow (Monday).”
Meanwhile, a policeman, Sergeant Otu Attang, who is the only survivor of the robbery, has cried out for help.
Attang, who lost one of his eyes during the incident, said he needed N3m for surgery.
He revealed that after the shootout, three policemen were hit by bullets, adding that they were all taken to the Federal Medical Centre, Owerri. He said Chukwudi died at the hospital.
According to him, the remaining two cops, including himself, were transferred to a police clinic, where Sergeant Sunday Agbo, the second cop, also died.
“Chukwudi died by 4am on February 23, and we were transferred to the police clinic by Shell Camp, Owerri. Agbo died the same day at about 3pm while we were at the police clinic,” he added.
The policeman told Ifeanyicy.com in an interview on Saturday that he was hit by a bullet in the eye during the encounter with the robbers, adding that he was told by doctors that bullets were still lodged in his skull and jaw and he needed urgent surgeries to have them removed.
Attang, who revealed that he had already had a surgery to take out his eyes and install prosthesis, noted that he had paid for his treatment all by himself, while he also cared for his family in his sick state.
“I underwent a lot of X-rays and surgeries, and it was discovered that I needed eye surgery.
“I had my eye surgery at Mercy Hospital, Orji, and I was on crutches for seven weeks as my left leg was shattered by bullets.
“I also went through a surgery to have my feet repaired at my own expense,” he told the blog.
He revealed that he left the police clinic because he still had to fend for himself there and the cost was unbearable.
He said at some points, a former Commissioner of Police and now Assistant Inspector-General of Police, Taiwo Lakanu, intervened and accepted to pay the N20,000 daily charge for his ward, but he had to pay for his medications and other expenses.
He said he also had to pay additional N20,000 after paying N40,000 initially when he was to undergo eye surgery.
Attang said the unbearable cost of treatment at the police clinic forced him to go to a more affordable hospital.
The lone survivor acknowledged that Zenith Bank had provided N400,000, while the injured policemen were at the FMC Owerri, adding that the bank also provided another N200,000 for their care while they were at the police clinic.
He said since then he had been left to fend for himself.
Attang said AIG Lakanu visited them at the FMC on the day of the incident and told them that he (Lakanu) had spoken with the Inspector-General of Police, who had approved that they be recommended for promotion because of their gallantry.
Attang, however, expressed regrets that no word about the promotion had been heard again.
The injured policeman revealed further that appeals to the management of Zenith Bank had yielded no result.