Sunday, 18 May 2014

Help comes way of girl shot by sister’s lover

Do you remember Blessing Isabor? Many Lagos residents probably might have forgotten the story of the 19-year-old girl, who was shot at close range by her 31-year-old police sister’s lover on February 10, 2012.
The incident happened at their Bariga residence. Emmanuel Okujo, who was a corporal at the time of the incident, allegedly shot Blessing for going against his relationship with her then 17-year-old sister, Patience.
According to the report, Blessing was reported to have always expressed displeasure at the amorous relationship between her sister and Emmanuel on the ground that she was still young to go into any serious relationship and should have instead, focused on her education since their father was no longer alive to assist their mother in their upkeep.
Unknowingly to her, Patience was always informing her lover of her sister’s disapproval of their relationship, which Emmanuel did not take lightly.
On the day of the incident, Emmanuel allegedly stormed the residence of the sisters and shot Blessing at close range. Luckily for her, the bullets pierced through her mouth and left side of her face, thereby disfiguring her face.
Emmanuel, who was attached to Ifako Police Station, was reported to have absconded with Patience but the arm of the law eventually caught up with him. He is presently remanded at Kirikiri prison and is facing charge of attempted murder before a Lagos High Court, Ikeja.
Blessing spent five months at the Lagos State University Hospital with the hope that surgery would be carried out on the face. According to medical report, she needed over N300,000 for the surgery to be carried out.
A non-governmental organisation, Project Alert On Violence Against Women,   took up her case and began to solicit for funds for her.
Help finally came her way last week when one of the ambassadors of the NGO and Nollywood star, Kate Henshaw, donated 50 per cent of the needed money for her surgery. Other sympathisers also came to her aid and contributed the remaining part of her money.
At the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH) before she went for the surgery on Friday, an elated Blessing told Sunday Newswatch that she was grateful to the organisation and her donor, especially Kate Henshaw for coming to her aid.
“God will continue to bless them (donors). I am happy that help has finally come,” she said.
She was sad that her only sister colluded with the accused, to allegedly kill her. She was also sad that the Nigerian police abandoned her and lamented the current corrupt practices in the country. She lamented that her education was disrupted by the incident, but said she had forgiven those involved in her plight.
“The incident won’t affect the way I see policemen because not all of them have the same character. The police have not done anything for me and did not show any concern. The country is corrupt. Since the incident happened, it is by God’s grace I have been surviving. My education has stopped but I hope to bounce back once I am healed. I thank Project Alert and Kate Henshaw for the help and concern for me,” she sobbed.
Commenting on how the money was raised for her, the President of the NGO, Mrs Josephine Effah-Chukwuma, said: “We started to task ourselves on what we could do to help the girl so we started looking for friends that could help. At Project Alert, we have some celebrities working with us, so we approached them. Sometimes last year, at the recording of Screen Divas programme with Kate Henshaw, Uche Jombo, Rita Dominc and Funke Akindele, we brought out some of our cases to show them. I must commend them because each of them did not leave that recording without taking up a case. Kate took up Blessing Isabor and contributed 50 per cent of the money for the surgery. There is also another anonymous donor who does not want her name mentioned. I also want to thank the National Association of Women Judges under the leadership of Justice Binta Nyako. At the conference we had, when I brought up the issue, some of the judges there put together some money for Blessing. We want to thank all these people.”
These people have shown the commitment that it is more than the face and doing business and smiling to the bank. Kate has been passionate and committed to the issue. We have been involved in the case of Blessing since 2012. It has been a challenging journey and I thank God that today we are able to raise the money.
In her comment, Kate Henshaw lamented the increase in violence against women in Nigeria.
“I would not want to castigate all policemen with reference to this case, but I feel it could have been handled well because it involved life and every life is important. The slogan is ‘police is your friend’ and the police should have been more friendly and make sure justice is carried out knowing full well it was one of their own  that did this damage to this girl. Thank God she is alive and her eyes are opened, but she could have been dead. They are supposed to protect not cause injuries to people.
She added: “I am a woman and was once a young lady like herself but now, I have all opportunity to do the best I can do. I identify with her and I am also one of the ambassadors for Project Alert on Violence Against Women. I took interest in her and I felt she didn’t deserve to be here (hospital) because she didn’t do anything wrong.
On violence against women, she said: “Women are the cause of problems facing women. Her sister, who is the cause of this problem, has not even visited her for once and is still in the house of the policeman who shot her blood sister, carrying his baby. That goes to show that sometimes, families are not the best. Women need to learn to support each other in everything. It might be politics or personal life; women should come to each other’s aid. They need to stand together more. My advice for anyone who is going through this problem is that if you are in a violent relationship, leave because of your life; it is only one who has life that can make plans for tomorrow.
Her uncle, Steven Isabor, told Sunday Newswatch that after the incident, he began to receive threats to his life by some unknown individuals.
“I thank God that she is alive today because at the beginning, we didn’t believe she could survive it. She spent about five months at LASUTH before she was finally discharged in May 2012. He (accused) ran away though it was like some people were trying to shield him but he was eventually arrested and charged to court. He was charged for attempted murder and was released on bail of N100,000 and two sureties at Ikeja Magistrates court.
“I wrote to the Lagos State Government and Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) and Project Alert that they should come to our aid that I was not convinced we were going to get justice. The case was later withdrawn from Magistrates court to DPP and taken to High Court where the bail was revoked last year. He is now at Kirikiri Maximum Prison and the case is still in court.
“Till today, I have never seen Patience, the younger sister, who caused the incident. A week before the incident, Blessing was not in Lagos and Patience was calling her to come back to Lagos. It seemed Patience had colluded with Emmanuel to kill Blessing so that he could have the opportunity to marry her.
“Their father is late and the mother has been trying to train the children. So Emmanuel saw that as an opportunity to deal with Blessing with the thought that they had no family that could defend them, he saw them as helpless children,” Isabor stated.

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