Today, October 16 marks exactly one year that former Shooting Stars player Izu Joseph was killed by members of the Nigerian army at his hometown in Okarki, Ahoada West Local Government Area of Rivers State. To mark the demise of their breadwinner, family of the late defender held a press conference in Port Harcourt, Rivers state capital on Monday to keep the public abreast of how they have fared, 365 days after his gruesome death.
In a family press statement read by Joseph’s father, Reuben Izu (Snr), he noted that the Nigerian Army have refused to take responsibility of their error in the death of his son while he also accused Izu’s last employers Shooting Stars of Ibadan of not paying what is due the player to his family.
“The army, up till this moment have not empathised with the family,” begun a mournful Reuben. “They are claiming right (sic) and just neglecting the family for any discussions. That is why we deem it necessary to talk to everybody concerning the situation,” he added.
Pa Izu went further to enumerate the questions his family are asking of the Army Headquarters in the aftermath of the death of their son.
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1. Where did they find my son? Inside or outside the shrine and shot him?
2. Was he armed?
3. Why was he shot twice when he was already demobilized with the first bullet?
4. Was he a wanted man? Was he listed in the Local Government (Ahoada West) that they are looking for him?
5. Which crime was he associated with?
6. Why was his corpse not paraded after he was killed as it is done with other killed criminals?”
“My village has never been identified as a flashpoint of crime since time immemorial. I will emphasize that there is no cultist shrine in Okarki. This is open to investigation and clearance,” challenged Izu.
In what was to be a huge financial blow to the family, Izu’s death has expectedly been a burden on the Izu’s family as explained the leader of the family who alleged Nigerian football club Shooting Stars of not identifying with their son.
“We count our losses. He was the breadwinner. His wife and daughter are now added to the burden of me and my wife because there is no one to care for them,” he noted. “Up till now, his last employers, 3SC of Ibadan have not deemed it fit to pay for the work he did when he was alive. They’re owing him eight months salary arrears and all the match bonuses he was owed. To add to that, they’ve not lent their voice to the matter at all, as if he didn’t work for them.”
Earlier this year, a top official of Shooting Stars was quoted on a radio programme monitored in Port Harcourt that they had paid a significant part of the salary arrears owed Izu to one member of his family.
Pa Izu denied such, stating that the club through the then General Manager Rashidi Balogun were not sincere in their dealings with them.
“Balogun stopped talking to me for almost a year. It was this year that he opened discussion again and I asked him who did he say he paid the money to? He said he didn’t say he paid the money.”
“After about two months, he paid N142,000 in my name as salary but when we investigated, we found out that my son was getting about N300,000 as salary.” The still mourning father said. “When we investigated further, we found out that he just pinched his pocket to pay that maybe because there was heat on him,” said Izu who insisted his family has not received any money apart from that from the club.
The family through the press conference further assured the public that they will stop at nothing to ensure justice is served for Izu Joseph and other innocent Nigerians killed by the Nigerian Army.