•Spare my life, suspect begs police
From Judex Okoro, Calabar
Tragedy struck the University of Calabar (UNICAL) community in Cross River State as Prof. Nathaniel Bassey was allegedly murdered by his sons over N45million pension pay-off. Investigations revealed that the late Prof. Bassey, 67, was allegedly killed by his two sons, Ekemini and Odiong, with the hope of collecting the amount. The duo, family sources said, had been having a running battle with their late father on finance, sometimes leading to disagreement and confrontation.
Ekemini, 25, was said to be a thorn in the flesh of his late father as he had been threatening to deal with him if he did not meet up with his financial demands. The source revealed that on several occasions, the son had made away with fat sums of money belonging to the late lecturer and warned him not to ever dare complain to anybody as it would be disastrous for the lecturer.
The development led to the late professor hiding so many documents from the son just as he never trusted the suspect with his bedroom key nor allowed him access to his office keys. The sudden change in character of Ekemini allegedly started when he was studying Economics at a university in Lagos where he joined a cult group and was expelled in year two while his brother, Odiong, did the same thing and was also rusticated. The two sons, who are dropouts have been making frivolous demands from the late Bassey even when they knew that he was not financially strong.
Prof. Bassey, the source noted, was said to have complained to some of his colleagues that his children were allegedly terrorizing and intimidating him into borrowing money to meet their demands in most cases and that was not going down well with him. Even at that, the two suspects were not satisfied as they discreetly plotted to eliminate their father, having learnt that he was about to collect his pension running into millions of naira. Penultimate week, Ekemini and his brother were said to have carried out their threat by allegedly killing their father.
They dropped a big knife beside him to create an impression that the professor committed suicide, out of frustration. However, luck ran out on the susepcts when after snuffing life out of their father, hired an ambulance to convey the corpse to Nsit Ubium, Akwa Ibom State for burial, while Ekemini was arrested by the security agents, his brother escaped. The security agents got wind of the murder through a tip-off by neighbours at the university staff quarters where the deceased lived and some staff of the Economics Department of the university.
The neighbours had suspected a foul-play when they started noticing unusual movement and arrival of ambulance at Prof’. Baasey’s residence and decided to rally round students to find out what happened just as they quickly alerted the school security for intervention. Eyewitnesses said the students and neighbours broke into Bassey’s residence, only to find him lying in a pool of blood with a knife beside him. Ekemini was said to have gone to his father’s office in the department and allegedly removed some vital documents to enable him process the pension benefits even when one of ‘Oga’s’ secretaries tried to stop him, knowing that his late father could not have allowed him access to his office.
As at Press time, Ekemini was being interrogated at the State Criminal Investigation Department (SCID) in Calabar, for his role in the murder. In a telephone chat with the Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Administration, Prof. Simon James Utsalo, over the death of Prof Bassey, a retired lecturer in the Economics department, he said: “Well, we cannot comment on the matter because it is a criminal case and police are handling it, so, we are still awaiting the official report. Besides, the autopsy report is not out; when it is out, we will now know what killed him.”
The officer-in-charge, Homicide unit, SCID, Mr. Joseph Inuyashi and the state command’s spokesman, Mr. John Umoh, told newsmen that they are still investigating the incident just as they are still haunting for one of the sons, Odiong, who is on the run. Police sources said that Ekemini had allegedly confessed during interrogation that they stabbed their father three times on different parts of the body and stuffed his mouth with old newspapers so that he will not shout in the process. Pleading not to be killed, he was said to have confessed that they got some clues that their father who was teaching on contract after his retirement was about to be paid benefits and gratuity of N45 million and decided to kill him so that the money would be paid to them as the next of kin.
One of Ekemini brothers, who does not want his name in print, told our reporter on phone: “I was not surprised that he killed our father because he has been a bad son for a while even when our daddy tried everything possible to manage him. “Ekeminin was sent to a university in Lagos to study Economics and he went and joined cult and was expelled in year two, while Odiong did the same thing. So, their nefarious activities did not start today and they have ended it up killing our father. I urged the police to kill them because they will still come out and do the worst,” he alleged.
Pleading with the school authorities to look into their plight, he said they are nine children and their father is the only breadwinner. At the staff quarters where the late professor lived all the while, the residents are worried at such ugly development, and urged the school to beef up security as well as review allocation of quarters. Some of Bassey’s colleagues argued that students, which indeed are a security threat, illegally occupy most of the houses at the staff village. Daily Sun gathered that the body had since been deposited at the mortuary while burial arrangements have not been released.