Army chiefs say the Shooting Stars defender was killed when a patrol team raided a cultist hideout at Okarki community
Joseph died after he was struck by a bullet on Sunday, October 16 in Rivers State.
The initial report had it that the defender was hit by a stray bullet but the Army in Port Harcourt claim that he was caught in a cultist den.
Speaking to reports in Port Harcourt on Tuesday, October 17, Brigadier General Hamisu Hassan revealed that the Shooting Stars defender was killed when a patrol team raided a cultist hideout at Okarki community, in the Ahoada West area of Rivers State.
“Information available to the patrol team indicate the presence of suspected cultist in Okarki village,” Hassan told the media.
“The troops moved in and raided the suspect criminal hideout. One person lost his life at the hideout while others fled.
“Later it was confirmed that the person who lost his life was a Nigerian footballer identified as Mr Izu Joseph.
“Nevertheless, the investigation is ongoing to further determine why and what he was doing the cultist den at that time.”
This comes after the father of the 24-year-old defender and residents of the community claimed that Shooting Stars player was shot twice from close range.
Joseph’s father, Reuben Izu claimed that his son went to Okaki to check on his wife before he died.
“He went to the jetty area where we usually swim to have a quick shower on Sunday. It was while he was there that the men of the JTF raided the place and everybody ran helter-skelter, including Joseph,” Reuben told Punch Newspaper.
“When the soldiers saw them running they began shooting sporadically and one of the bullets hit Joseph in the leg.
“As he was groaning with pain, one of the JTF men walked up to him and shot him a second time at a close range despite Joseph’s plea that he was a footballer on holiday in Okaki.”
Some residents of the Okarki community also collaborated the version of Joseph’s dad.
A resident of the community also told Punch that the defender pleaded with the JTF operatives who did not listen to the plea.
“The joint task force team were in search of a suspect when this happened. Joseph told them that he was a footballer, but his appeal fell on deaf ears as he was shot. He was later rushed to a hospital where he died.”
Joseph was a figure at the back for Shooting Stars as they finished 14 in the just concluded season. He scored two goals.