The desire of every young undergraduate in Nigeria is to put on the uniform of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) and be addressed as a ‘corper’.
But fate was very cruel to 24-year-old Augusta Chizoba Ndukwu of Umufu-Amaimo, Ikeduru Local Government area of Imo State. She was gruesomely murdered by unknown persons at Upper Iweka area of the commercial city of Onitsha, Anambra State.
It was quite sad that Augusta, who had survived a series of hostilities and bombings by the dreaded Islamic sect, Boko Haram, in Adamawa State, where she observed her one-year mandatory national youth service, would painfully meet her untimely death in a place she felt was her home.
Her voice was filled with joy when she spoke to her relatives in Owerri on phone, telling them that she had finally come home. She told them that she was at the luxurious park in Upper Iweka, informing them also that she would join them in Owerri the next morning. But she never lived to see the faces of her loved ones, as she was gruesomely murdered by unknown persons that fateful night.
Daily Sun gathered that the deceased, a graduate of Banking and Finance from the Federal Polytechnic, Nekede, Imo State, was found lying in the pool of her own blood at the notorious fly-over at Upper Iweka on September 12.
According to a family member and the Vice Chairman of Nigeria Union of Journalists, (NUJ) Imo State Council, Chief Chris Akaraonye, Chizoba left Yola, the capital of Adamawa State on September 11 where she was having her NYSC primary assignment. She was travelling to Onitsha en route Owerri but could not get to her final destination that time because it was already late.
Chief Akaraonye further said the deceased, who had boarded a luxurious bus belonging to a popular transport company (names withheld), called her relatives to inform them that she could not make it again to Owerri. She also informed them that she had decided to pass the night at the company’s motor park together with other passengers. However, according to him, the following day, the family of the deceased, including her fiancé, waited in anxiety for the arrival of Chizoba in Owerri but to no avail. They then started trying her mobile line, but it had been switched off.
“At first, we thought she had a low battery. But after waiting for almost the whole day, we realized it was not usual and we decided to make moves to know why somebody that spoke to us at 10 pm last night could not be reached on phone or could not get to Owerri. In the course of our doubts and fears, we started going through different police stations and Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) formations along the Onitsha-Owerri Road to ascertain if she was involved in a motor accident.
It was when we came to Onitsha that we found her corpse at the Onitsha General Mortuary with gunshot wounds to her chest.” In the next morning, early passersby were shocked to their marrow when they beheld the gory sight of a lady lying in the pool of her own blood at the Upper Iweka axis with two travelling bags filled with children clothing and popcorn. One of the eyewitnesses who pleaded anonymity said that the deceased was a victim of ritual killers.
She confirmed that she was found lying at the Upper Iweka flyover with gunshot wounds on her chest and two travelling bags containing children clothes and popcorn beside her corpse. Though the police swiftly said the deceased could be the victim of an armed robbery attack, they also revealed that the bags were planted by the assailants to divert police investigations, stressing that the police had commenced investigations into the circumstances surrounding the murder.
The Campaign for Democracy (CD), South East Zone has reacted to the incident, describing it as a sin against God and humanity. The group called for proper investigations into the matter with a view to unravelling the circumstances surrounding the senseless killing of the deceased. The Chairman, South East Zone, Dede Uzor. A. Uzor condemned the act while calling on the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Mohammed Abubarka to personally detail a crack team of investigative police officers to look into the death of the corps member. Dede Uzor further questioned the omission of the deceased’s name in the passengers’ manifest and the alleged role that the transport company played when they returned the bags of the deceased to Yola without contacting the police.
Also speaking on the incident, Chairman of Ndigbo Unity Forum, Mr. Augustine Chukwudum condemned the act, describing it as the most wicked act and cruelty ever meted out to any corps member in the history of the state. Mr. Chukwudum also said his group would mobilize to make sure that criminal elements are sacked from the commercial city. He said the presence of such criminals was hindering the development of commerce and industry in the city.
However, policemen attached to the Central Police Station, CPS, Onitsha led by the Divisional Police Officer, DPO, Mr. Abdul Yusuf said they have arrested three persons in connection with the death of the corps member, adding that they were still working to unravel the circumstances surrounding the murder of the deceased.
The police said, though, that it could be possible that the girl was murdered at the park by some criminals who then took her body to the Upper Iweka where they kept two bags containing clothes belonging to a boy of six years just to divert police investigations.
According to the police, the deceased was not a victim of ritual killing. It was further gathered that the driver of the luxury bus that brought the deceased from Yola to Onitsha on that fateful night, the manager of the transport company and one other person whose identities were not yet known as at press time have been arrested by the police.
They were picked up to allegedly help give insight to the death of the corps member as well as explain how and why the management of the company swiftly returned the bags of the deceased to Yola without informing the police. When contacted, the Anambra State Police Public Relations Officer, Mr. Ralph Uzoigwe confirmed that three persons have been arrested by the police to help them in the course of investigations.
He appealed to the general public to help the police with more information that could lead to the arrest of the real killers of the corps member.