From Rose Ejembi, Makurdi

The atmosphere at the residence of Madam Grace Onoh in Makurdi, the capital of Benue State, was sombre as sympathizers, old and young, thronged the area to condole with her over the death of her daughter, Joy.

The only cushion chair in the small living room could not contain visitors per time, so a bench and a few plastic chairs were brought in when our correspondent visited on Thursday.

Seated in one corner of the room was the grieving mother of Joy being comforted by Joy’s best friend, Ann Onuche.

Until that time, the family was still at a loss how their daughter left the house last Tuesday evening to deliver a shirt to an unidentified customer at the North Bank area of Makurdi with a promise to return within an hour only to be returned in a casket.

Joy Onoh, a fresh graduate of Mass Communication from the Benue State University (BSU), was reportedly raped to death by her assailant(s) and her body dumped along a bush path around the Federal Low Cost Estate, North Bank. The body was recovered on Wednesday morning by the police and deposited in the mortuary for autopsy.

The deceased, it was gathered, was into the sale of T-shirts and easy wears to fend for herself, her widowed mother and two siblings, while waiting to be called up for the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) programme.

She was said to have adopted online platforms to advertise her products, offering to also do home delivery in any part of Makurdi.

Unfortunately, that home delivery resulted in her untimely and gruesome murder by unidentified agents of darkness.

Narrating how it all happened, Joy’s mother, who lost her husband 12 years ago, said, that fateful day, she was braiding Joy’s hair when the unidentified customer called and asked her to deliver a turtle neck shirt around North Bank area.

She said: “My name is Grace Onoh. I’m from Enugu State. Joy is my first daughter. She was 24-years-old. Last Tuesday, after she returned from the school where she teaches, we were together when she received a call and then she told me that she wanted to go and deliver a red turtle neck top to one customer at North Bank.

“She left the house around 4:50pm. I was even making her hair and we hadn’t finished then. She said she would rush there and come back so we could continue with the hair.

“When I waited till around 7pm and she didn’t return, I started calling her phone line because she was not used to staying that long outside, but it seemed like they kept busying the line.

“At a point, while her two siblings, her friend and I kept trying the line, she suddenly picked her call and it was like the phone was on speaker and she was crying and just told her sister, Cynthia, to send her account details to her and then, the phone went dead. All efforts to get her thereafter failed as the phone was switched off till now (Thursday).

“That same night, I went to report at Police ‘D’ Division close to us here but they said I came late and that I should come back the next day. So, on Wednesday morning, I went to Police ‘C’ Division at North Bank to report the matter and they asked me to leave my address and phone number with them, and I did.

“They told me that, since I live around NUJ, I should go and report at the ‘D’ Division Police Station and I went back there to report. The police now told me at ‘D’ Division that they could only declare my daughter missing after 24 hours. They asked me to come back at 5pm.

“Unfortunately, before 5pm, I heard another news that they saw the body of my daughter at Federal Low Cost Estate, North Bank. I asked how and I was told that the Police at North Bank found her body. Since then, I didn’t hear anything again.

“Her fellow Soldiers of Christ went to the Federal Medical Centre to pray for her on Wednesday but they were turned down on the grounds that the body was under police investigation.

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“I’m a widow for over 12 years now. Joy graduated from BSU in March this year. She graduated with good grades and was waiting for service before this sad incident. She’s the first of my three children.”

Asked if she had any premonition that something like this was going to happen, Madam Onoh, a petty trader, said she didn’t, except that her younger daughter had a dream a few days before then and told Joy about it.

“It was my younger daughter who had a dream about a week ago and she narrated it to Joy who in turn continued to pray about it and kept encouraging us that nothing would happen. I also kept praying about the dream. But that dream didn’t indicate that somebody would die,” she explained.

She described her late daughter as the joy of everyone saying: “Joy was a good girl who knew what to do at every given time. She was busy all the time. It was either she went to school, church or was conducting home lessons for some children.

“I miss Joy’s presence already. I miss everything about her. My message to her killers is that God will expose them. God will fight for my daughter and all those who planned that evil deed should repent or face the judgement of God.

“It is very painful because, since their father left them, I put my hope in God that, when they start having something in life, I would rise again. I don’t have anything as you can see. I live daily from hand to mouth,” she lamented

Joy’s bosom friend and classmate, Ann Onuche, said she still found it hard to believe that her friend whom she saw that Tuesday evening was no more.

She recalled how they suffered through secondary school and the university and how they had promised to ensure that, when they eventually marry, their children would not go through the kind of suffering they went through in school.

“Joy has not been able to collect her final result from the university because she was still owing school fees for three semesters. That’s why she had continued to hustle legitimately to see how she could raise her fees so that we could go for service.

“I only managed to collect my own result last week and when I showed her, she was so happy for me and she held the result and said she wanted to know how it feels to hold it.

“I can’t understand how I’m feeling right now because our friendship unified the two families. It was such that whether I’m home or not, Joy could come to my house and go straight to my room. So, I’m miss her already,” Ann stated and broke down in tears.

A neighbour, Adams Ochokwunu, who was one of the sympathizers, described Joy as a quiet, decent and easy-going person, who was loved by everyone in the area.

He wondered why anyone would snuff life out of such a good girl whose only fault was to struggle to make ends meet by engaging in legitimate business.

Police public relations officer in the state, DSP Catherine Anene, confirmed the report, saying the matter was reported to the police.

“On the 20th of October, at about 7am, the body of a young lady was recovered but, before then, a case of missing person was reported. A young lady was reported missing. The family reported that she had gone out to deliver clothes. So, the police started the search.

“On 20th October, 2021 (Wednesday), at about 7am, the body of the young lady was discovered in a nearby bush at Federal Low Cost Housing Estate. Her name is Joy Onoh of behind NUJ House. The body has been deposited for autopsy. For now, we have no explanation for the cause of the death but in due time we will communicate to you accordingly.

“No mark of violence at the spot but it is not for us to tell what happened. The doctors will tell us better. She was aged 24,” Anene said.

A source disclosed that two suspects have been arrested over the matter.