Roseline Nwijie Oshim, a beloved wife and mother, was going about her normal life when she was suddenly crushed in a premeditated crash by a police van.
ON the day Roseline Nwije was killed, she had left home to buy donkey meat at Nkwo Jarki market, Ezzamgbo, in the Ohaukwu Local Government Area of Ebonyi State.
She sold such meat to her customers at her shop at Nwofe market, Okpoduma Agbaja, Ebyia Development Centre, in the Izzi Local Government Area.
As she was leaving for Nkwo Jarki market that day, September 18, 2020, her husband, Oshim Nwije, accompanied her to the junction where she took a keke. After Roseline had boarded the vehicle, Oshim returned home and, eventually, back to his work as a tinsmith (mending household utensils like pans, pots and other metal utensils).
A while after he had left Roseline at the junction, someone came to inform him that she had been involved in an accident around Mgbo-Agbaja village, still within Ebyia Development Centre.
When he stepped outside their compound, he saw many people crying. One of their neighbours volunteered to go to the scene of the accident with him.
Roseline had left for the market with a woman from our village, Okpoduma. The woman had sustained a fracture in her leg due to the accident, and had been brought back to the house. She was the one who narrated what exactly had happened.
Oshim who went looking for his wife at the scene of the accident, later found her at a mortuary.
He was told that on Roseline’s way to the market, police officers had mounted a roadblock with a van to collect 50 naira from motorists.
The keke driver carrying Roseline had wanted to bypass the police without giving them money, but the police quickly hit the keke with their van. The keke tumbled, and while the vehicle was somersaulting, Roseline sustained injuries that killed her instantly.
She had left home that day with 300,000 naira, but when her husband got to the scene, he couldn’t find the money.
Oshim and his wife were very close, doing everything together and in support of each other. Whenever she was going to the market, Oshim would supplement her money so that she could buy more donkey meat, because that was our main source of livelihood.
Oshim went round asking the police about the missing money, but was told the money was with the mortuary workers. When he went back to the mortuary, the workers there said they hadn’t seen anything on Roseline other than the clothes she had on when the police officers brought her in.
He later petitioned the police on September 21, 2020 to give him the money.
“I couldn’t stand losing my wife and my money all at once,” he said.
Oshim was planning to go to court to seek justice, but when he visited the police headquarters in late September 2020, he was asked to bring 50,000 naira to start a trial against the officers.
Having no money to spend – especially as the 300,000 naira was still missing and unaccounted for, he was unable to pursue justice.
Roseline was 45 years old when she died. Together, she and Oshim had nine children, all of whom he now cares for alone. He is also an only child meaning he is also financially and emotionally responsible for his aged parents.
“Life has been tough, Oshim shares, “with the heavy burden of taking care of everyone weighing on me.”
Apart from tinsmithing, he is also a smallholder farmer. But as a 52-year-old, he no longer has the energy needed to till the soil. Unfortunately, since the death of Roseline and loss of the money, he does not even have money to hire farm labourers.
“It’s been a struggle getting food to feed my people.” Oshim laments.
“My wife was everything to me,” he continues, “She supported me in fulfilling our many family responsibilities. Her donkey business helped us make enough money to survive.”
“I am seriously in pain. Everything is in shambles. Our children’s schooling has suddenly come to a halt. Our second daughter, Chigozie, for instance, wrote her Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination at Deo-Gratias International School in Games Village Estate, Abuja. After Roseline died, Chigozie, who is 23, returned to the village, because she hadn’t seen her mother for two years due to school. Since then, Chigozie has been stuck in the village because there is no money for her to return to Abuja for school.”
According to Oshim, memories of his wife bring tears to his eyes.
“The government needs to intervene with compensation,” he says, “because her death has robbed us of a lot. The children need to resume schooling. We need to survive.”
This story is part of a multimedia project by Tiger Eye Foundation and media partners across Nigeria, documenting police brutality in Nigeria, and advocating for police reform.