The Edo State Police Command said it had commenced investigation into the death of a 100-level student of the University of Benin, Uwaila Omozuwa.
PUNCH Metro learnt that Uwaila, who went to read in the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Miracle Sanctuary Mega Parish, Edo Province 10, Ikpoba Hill area of Benin City on May 27, 2020, was allegedly raped and assaulted by assailants.
It was gathered that the men forced their way into the church, where they raped and struck Uwaila in the head with a fire extinguisher.
Our correspondent learnt that the church security guard, who had just resumed duty, wanted to collect the key to the church when he discovered that someone was already inside.
The guard, who found Uwaila in a pool of blood, reportedly called for help and the victim was rushed to the University of Benin Teaching Hospital.
PUNCH Metro gathered that the victim did not recover from her state of unconsciousness until she died on Saturday.
Our correspondent learnt that the incident was reported at the Oregbeni Police Station.
The victim’s mother, in a video posted by @town_crierng on Twitter, lamented that Uwaila died despite buying all the drugs they were asked to purchase.
She said, “I saw a friend, who came to visit me, off and before I came back, someone had called my telephone thrice. When I got back, my children told me that a church member, Mummy Osunla, had called me and when I called her back, she asked where I was and told me that I should come and that she did not know what had happened to my daughter.
“I ran to the place but before I got there, they already took her to a private hospital and when I saw my daughter, I cried. They raped her; the dress she was wearing that morning was white, but it had turned to red; all her body was full of blood. Her mouth and eyes were tied; the hoodlums used a fire extinguisher to hit her head, which left a deep cut.
“We were asked to take her for an X-ray on her head; I did not have money but my church members tried and money was raised and we bought all the drugs that we were asked to buy, but Uwa could not make it. She was unable to say anything till she died; it was just tears that were coming out from her eyes.”
The victim’s father, in the same video, stated that he was unable to celebrate the victim’s admission into the university before she died after seeking admission for five years.
“It was not a mistake; it was not a fault; it was not stubbornness for her to go to the church to study. She had been going there for several years. She struggled for five years before she gained admission into UNIBEN. I was waiting to celebrate her admission before she died.”
Also reacting to the incident, the elder sister of the victim, Mrs Sandra Ogeamie, called for justice on behalf of the family.
She stated, “I called one of my younger sisters on the day of the incident, because it had been long since I heard from her, but she did not pick her call at first and when she picked it, she told me that she was in the hospital because our younger sister was raped.
“I was shocked but I kept thinking that the situation could be managed, but she called me yesterday (Saturday) that Uwaila was dead and when I asked her what happened, I was told that she went to read inside the church and some guys came in and raped her and used a fire extinguisher to smash her head.
“Please we need justice, because the new pastor in charge of the parish is saying the incident did not happen inside the church. Please fight for me.”
Nigerian actress, Adesua Etomi-Wellington, while calling for justice for Uwaila, tweeted, “I can’t post the pictures I’ve seen of Uwa. She went to church to study. She was 22. She was brutally raped and beaten. The culprits are on the run. Uwa could have been any of us. #JusticeForUwa.”
A former Director-General of the Bureau of Public Service Reforms, Dr Joe Abah, called on the police to bring the culprits to justice.
“This is utterly condemnable. The @PoliceNG must ensure that there is #JusticeForUwa,” he wrote.
A Twitter account that creates content for women, @fabWomanOnline tweeted, “She thought she was in the safest place on Earth (a church) and yet not only was she raped, she was also killed in the most brutalizing way ever. The culprits must face the law #JusticeForUwa.”
The Edo State Police Public Relations Officer, Chidi Nwabuzor, who said the command would investigate the incident, stated that the deceased’s father reported a case of assault to the police.
Nwabuzor said, “The command got to know about the incident today (Sunday); according to the DPO of the Oregbeni Police Station, CSP Lawrence, the father of the deceased reported a case of assault occasioning harm against some hoodlums, who attacked the daughter, while she was in church, and got her injured.
“According to the DPO, he immediately mobilised his detectives to the scene, where they took the deceased alive to hospital and after some days, she passed away. Unfortunately, they were unable to get a statement from her, because she was in a state of unconsciousness and there was no eyewitness to say what happened.
“The command will take up the investigation; we will first look at what the father reported to the police and see if it will lead us to something else.”
The Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, on his Twitter handle, @GovernorObaseki, urged the police to investigate the incident and ensure that the culprits were brought to justice.
He tweeted, “I have ordered the Nigeria Police Force (@PoliceNG) to thoroughly investigate the circumstances that led to the death of Miss Vera Uwaila Omozuwa, a 100-level student of the University of Benin (UNIBEN).
“The @PoliceNG has been mandated to identify, arrest and prosecute anyone found culpable in her death. The Violence Against Persons (VAP) Law is in effect in our state. #JusticeForUwa.
“Using this law, we would ensure to investigate what exactly transpired and deal decisively with those found complicit in the dastardly act, whoever they might be. #JusticeForUwa.”
Reacting to the incident, the management of UNIBEN also condemned the action of the assailants.
The Vice-Chancellor of the institution, Lilian Salami, in a statement by the Public Relations Officer, Benedicta Ehanire, stated that the assailants’ action must not be condoned by the society.
The statement read, “The management of the University of Benin has received with great shock the news of the rape and subsequent murder of one of its students, Miss Vera Uwaila Omozuwa, 100-level, Microbiology Department.
“Reacting on behalf of management, the Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Lilian Salami, said the actions are condemnable and should not be condoned by any society. She said the current pandemic was already hard on everyone and that compounding it with inflicting additional pain on any family is a wicked act.
“While commiserating with the bereaved family on the loss of their dear daughter, Prof. Salami prayed to God to grant her soul peaceful rest. The vice-chancellor then used the opportunity to call on students of the institution and indeed all young people to be wary of the company they keep and the places they visit. Meanwhile, a delegation has been sent by the university’s management to commiserate with the bereaved family.”
Meanwhile, the RCCG has condoled the family of the victim and urged the police to get to the root of the matter and bring the killers to justice.
The Head, Media and Public Relations, RCCG, Pastor Olaitan Olubiyi, told PUNCH Metro that the victim was a chorister in the parish.
Olubiyi said, “The church wishes to commiserate with the family, because it is a great loss; somebody has lost a daughter and a promising member of the family. We are saddened by the occurrence.
“The lady was a member of the choir in one of our parishes and from the report we have, the lady had been going to collect the key to the church to read her books, which she had been using for her private study.
“On May 27, 2020, she did the same thing and it was not until the night guard was to resume that the incident was discovered. Nobody knew what happened. When the guard resumed, he found the lady in a pool of her blood half-naked. The parents were called in, the police were informed and everybody was notified.
“Eventually, she was taken from one hospital to the University of Benin Teaching Hospital. And we learnt that she gave up last night (Saturday). It is really sad for us, because we have lost a great member and we pray that the Lord will help the family at this time.”