Family seeks justice for Benin lady killed in Italy by jealous husband
By Ozioruva Aliu
IT was a pitiable sight when Sunday Vanguard visited the family members of Rita Amenze, the 31-year-old Benin lady who was reportedly shot and killed by her husband in Italy over allegation that she came to Nigeria to marry when she visited on holidays some weeks ago.
Her distraught mother, Faith Oyahiagbon, the father of her children, Frank Akpoguma, and other family members corroborated the narration of Rita’s mother that she only had children for Akpoguma and was never married to him.
They also said the deceased did she come to Nigeria to marry to see her children during which she was said to have promised that once she returned to base, she will begin the process of relocating them to Italy. The three children, two boys and a girl are aged 11, eight and three.
Amenze was on September 10 shot dead by 61 year old Pierangelo Pellizar for reportedly filing for divorce.
Rita’s mother in between sobs told her story: “We heard the news that my daughter came to marry, that is pure lie. She gave birth to children for the man but they were never married, we are Benin and we don’t do that in Benin. Such a thing is an abomination.
”She never came back to say she wanted to marry and neither did she come back to marry. Whoever has gone to say this lie against my daughter has not been fair to us as a family.
“Rita was my daughter and my first born for that matter. She was all I had. She came home recently to see the children and we were all joyous. She had been in Italy for long just to seek greener pasture.
“Her last daughter, Celebrate, was six months old when she left her for me for upbringing.
“We also parted joyously while she was returning only to receive the bad news about two weeks later that she was shot dead but I didn’t believe this until now that you all came. “This looks like film to me because how could I believe that a daughter that meant everything to me is dead?”
She appealed to the Nigerian Mission in Italy and the Nigerian Union to help the family to get justice for the sake of the children.
“I want to appeal to all concerned authorities, for the sake of the children she left behind, to please help us get justice because Rita was my leg; she was my life; she was my hope and she was my everything; she even promised me a lot of things when she saw my condition. She promised to change her children’s school,” the mother said.
Also Rita’s uncle, Austin Omoruyi, said: “When she came to Nigeria, all of us were together and I never heard that she came to marry; so I was surprised when I heard that it was one girl that went to say she came to marry. I have been like a father to her. All we want is that the children should not suffer; they should be taken care of because they are small and Rita had been everything to them.”
On his part, the father of the children, Akpoguma, while corroborating the story of Rita’s mother, said he never married the deceased, but only had children together.
“We didn’t marry either in the registry or traditional. Yes, we had children, there was nothing like marriage between us. All those things I saw on the social media that Rita came to marry are false”, he said.
“I have my wife (pointing to a woman beside him) and we are happily married and she is with me here. Rita did not come to Nigeria to get married, we only had children before.
“But Rita has been the source of survival for these children. She cared and catered for their upbringing and paid their school fees.
“I really wish to appeal to the Federal Government, National Assembly and the Association of Nigerians in Italy that just came that we want justice.
“As you can see that the children are too small, they need support so that we can care and cater for them.
“I use this medium to appeal to everybody, Nigerian government, Italian government and Nigerian Ambassador to Italy as well as Civil Rights Organisations to help because she died because of these children. She was planning to take them abroad before her life was cut short by an Italian man.”
Call for justice
Nigerians in Italy, Edo National Association in Italy (ENAI) and the National Union of Nigerian Associations in Italy (NUNAI) are demanding justice for Rita and her family.
A delegation led by the Welfare Officer of NUNAI, Mike Opputeh, told journalists shortly a condolence visit to the bereaved family: “I led the delegation from Italy to look into this issue and our mission is to see and hear directly from the family to compare what we have been hearing on the social media because we have been hearing different reports.
“So we came here as a union and the Nigerian Embassy in Rome is aware of this development and they also want to know the true position of things.
“We intend to get justice for Rita and we are going to look into how the children should be taken care of. The union will fight for compensation for the children since the family has said that Rita was the bread winner of the house.
“We have also confirmed from Rita’s mother that Rita was never married and the father of the children has also confirmed that they were not married but only had children together and his own wife is here with us, so we as a union want to assure Nigerians that we will get justice and the necessary expectation for the upbringing of these children will be met by the grace of God. “We will ensure that the Italian government does the right thing, we did it before for a victim four years ago and we will also ensure that this case is not different. We want to assure Nigerians that we will get justice for Rita.”