Community vigilante butchered on duty

Family, residents accuse couple, police of complicity

 From Obinna Odogwu, Ekwulobia

Mrs. Cordelia Umeh, a native of Umuinem village, Umuonyiuka, in Ufuma, Orumba South Local Government Area of Anambra State is distraught. She cannot be consoled because her eldest son, Mr. Chuks Umeh, was recently murdered in cold blood a few strides from their home.

The deceased, 30, was a member of the community’s vigilance group. On the night he was murdered, he had allegedly rung the village bell at about 10pm, signalling the commencement of duty; but unknown to him death was lurking at the corner.

Before his tragic death, his kinsman, Mr. Ezechukwu Okechukwu, had allegedly threatened on different occasions to deal with him over a series of issues. Some of their kinsmen, including the chairman of their vigilance group, Mr. Andy Nwankwo Eze, corroborated the allegation.
The accused, Ezechukwu Okechukwu, has, however, dismissed every allegation against him as false. Ezechukwu, who visited The Sun office in Awka, maintained that he was innocent of the crime. He, however, alleged that one Chibuike Akamnonu, had confessed to the police of committing the crime.
The Anambra State Police Command, which has been accused of complicities in the murder incident now generating serious tension in the community declined to speak on the matter when our reporter called him. The Police
Commissioner, Mr. Sam Okaula, told our reporter that he would not comment on the matter.

The deceased’s mother, Mrs. Umeh, a widow, and other members f the family told Daily Sun that the accused, Mr. Okechukwu, and his wife,  Ifeyinwa, a police sergeant,  had some questions to answer over Chuks’ death.
“On October 2, 2016, Chuks had gone to the village square to charge his electric torch but he never returned alive” the deceased’s mother began.
“Owners of the house where he went to recharge his torch empathetically said that he collected the torch a few minutes past 10pm that night. Afterwards he proceeded to ring the security bell, as he was the one in charge of it.
“While he  was out for security duty, some people swooped on him on the lonely route, leading to the village square.
“People are testifying that they saw two dreadful persons come into the village that night.

“From what we saw in the morning, Chuks was strangled to death behind a house whose owners live abroad. They later deposited his body on the road, wore him his foot wear and put his security torchlight in his hand. They later inflicted deep cuts in the head with axe and scooped out his brain.”
Recalling how both families got at the crossroads, she said that they had been enmeshed in bitter quarrel before the incident happened over a missing fowl. Okechukwu, she said, had accused the deceased of stealing his broiler, an allegation she dismissed.

“One day, he locked up all the members of the community’s vigilance group. But the community bailed them all. We were at Eke square when they returned and everybody clearly heard Okechukwu and his wife, saying that they had been spiritually targeting Chuks
but he could not get him.

“He personally tried using the police to intimidate him but could not succeed. He said that the next step was to spill blood. They said that many families would cry soon. The villagers replied him immediately, urging him to get ready to buy a shovel and a hoe with which he would use to bury his victims.

“Each time he saw Chuks, he would be pointing at him, threatening that he should get ready for him.

“Now that he has been killed, the villagers have gone to Okechukwu’s house to ask him what had transpired. Okechukwu replied that maybe the deity he had commissioned to kill his enemies had begun working, starting with Chuks.

“Puzzled, our people asked him whether idols had cutlasses, axes and arrows. He said he did not know – that maybe Chuks was killed by hired assassins.”

Daily Sun learned that Eze’s wife, Ifeyinwa, a police woman, was alleged to have been boasting that nothing would happen. She was also accused of blocking police men, who were supposed to investigate the matter.

“They have a close relationship with a top police officer attached to Ajalli Police Station.

The deceased’s sibling, Ekpereamaka, told Daily Sun that Mr. Okechukwu had in the past told him to
warn his brother to stop collaborating with the villagers against him otherwise he would deal decisively with him.

He also accused the Deputy Commissioner of Police in-charge of the case of being partial.

“When the community’s vigilance group chairman narrated to him how Eze and his wife had been threatening Chuks, the DCP ordered for his detention.

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“Before the community constituted the members of the vigilance group, it was noticed that Okechukwu and his wife usually visited the market square to perform some incantations, usually naked. To stop that, the vigilance group was constituted. He was not comfortable with that and vowed to stop the security. He said that once he killed my brother, who was their main man others would be easier to deal with.”

Another villager, Mrs. Philomena Nkwo, whom the couple had allegedly beaten up on different occasions and had her clothes torn
corroborated the accusation, narrating how she once became the couple’s victim.

“Barely three days after Mrs. Okechukwu vowed that many families would cry, Chuks was murdered in cold blood,” she recalled tearfully.
The Chairperson of the community, Mrs. Felicia C. Okoli, added that she was once a victim of Okechukwu’s brutality.

“Okechukwu said that my husband and I were also part of the people whose names he sent to the deity to kill.”

The Chairman of the community’s vigilance group, Mr. Andy Nwankwo Eze, alleged that “Mr Ezechukwu Okechukwu has been threatening to wipe out members of our group.

“He told the villagers openly that he would kill all of us before December 2016. He named about six people that he would mow down.

“On October 2, 2016, he came home in a strange car in the evening about 8pm. I saw them while standing opposite his house, which is located adjacent to the village junction. I saw everything clearly, as our security light illuminated everywhere. When he alighted, two hefty men were with him. They were strange faces.

“He had kept on threatening that he would kill Chuks. He threatened that he would deal with some villagers; and that I was the next person to follow.

“The wife, as a police woman, had started manipulating the statements that people made. She brought one lunatic in the village, claiming that it was he that killed Chuks.”

However, the accused couple had dismissed every allegation against them as baseless. Mrs. Okechukwu, alleged that one Chike Atamnonu, popularly known as Nazareth, had confessed to have committed the murder.

“As I am talking to you now, the murderer is at the state CID and he has made a confessional statement to the police. Even his father was arrested because he killed the young man (Chuks) and later informed the father.”

Corroborating his wife’s statement, Okechukwu lamented that: “It is sad to note that even when the culprit willingly surrendered himself to the police, they are still accusing me.

“On October, 2, I was in Onitsha buying some vehicle parts to repair my car when I received a call that one Andy was at the market square, beating my mother with knife and destroyed a lot property, belonging to one Hyacinth Okoli and inflicted wounds on my mother.

“On my way back that evening, I saw the said Andy, one Martin and some other persons opposite the church drinking. But I drove into my house and slept. It was in the morning that I heard the tragedy that happened.

“Ever since, nobody had accompanied me to this village. They said I came back home between 8pm and 8:30pm, but the truth is that I returned about 9:30pm, 10pm that very day.

“The real culprit is one Chibuike Atamnonu, our kinsman. He had an issue with the mother of the diseased over plantain.

“One Wasky Nwankwo, popularly known as Mayor, told them that morning that he knew the person who killed Chuks, that it was Chibuike; that he had been telling him that he would kill Chuks. He said he had to ask Chuks about the threat and Chuks told Wasky that it was as a result of the vigilance work,” he narrated.

When contacted on the telephone, the Anambra State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Sam Okaula, after listening to our reporter’s narrations and subsequent inquiry about what the police were doing to ensure the perpetrators were brought to book, hung up his phone. The reporter called him again and offered to repeat his narration so that he could respond accordingly and the following exchange ensued:
Our reporter: “Hello sir.”
Police Commissioner: “I am hearing you.”
Our reporter: “Sir, may I repeat what I earlier sir?”
Police Commissioner: “No, you don’t have to. I don’t have the time. What do you want me to do?”
Our reporter: “What has the command under your able watch been able to do, regarding the murder incident?”
The Police Commissioner hung up the phone for the second time.
   Meanwhile, after waiting for his call back to no avail our reporter sent him an sms message but he did not reply to it as at the time of filing this report.