An attempt by a 27 years old apprentice, Elijah Chiama to make peace, in a case involving two of his relations ended in tragedy when he met his untimely death in the hands of a killer gang.
The incident occurred in Ukpata community in Uzo-Uwani Local Government Area of Enugu State, on May 15 when Chiama accompanied his cousin Ebuka Eze to a neigbouring village, Umunakwe Village in the same community to resolve a misunderstanding which was already taking a violent dimension.
According to a source which spoke with LEADERSHIP, trouble started when his cousin, Ebuka, had a little misunderstanding with one Miss Chinasa Okeke, also one of his extended family members.
The source disclosed that another man, one Okeke Okoro who was contacted by Chinasa’s cousin, Ndidiamaka Iheatisi, to deal with Ebuka, said to be having love affairs with Chinasa, went to Ebuka and ordered him to go and apologise to Chinasa, failing which, he should be ready for any trouble.
Ebuka was said to have declined insisting that the right thing would be for Okoro to invite both of them and resolve the problem instead of ordering him to apologise. According to him, he did not commit any offence and so would not apologise to anybody.
Irked by Ebuka’s response, Okoro and four other young men from Umunnakwe Village, were said to have laid an ambush for Ebuka when he went to recharge his mobile phone and gave him the beating of his life.
His assailants were said to have made away with his face-cap and sandals after the assault.
It was further learnt that the following day Elijah accompanied Ebuka to the home of his attackers to strike a peace deal and also recovers Ebuka’s items that were seized from him during the attack. It was learnt that they were still halfway on the journey when Okoro, accompanied by others, including Chikwado Okoro, Amaechi Okoro, Udoka Ugwu and Emeka Ogbonna confronted them armed to the teeth.
The eye-witness told LEADERSHIP that the attackers who came with knifes, axe, sticks and a pump action gun allegedly given them by the father of two of the suspected killers, Chikwado and Amaechi Okoro, beat the duo so much that Elijah was killed on the spot while Ebuka managed to escape with a deep gash on the head from the axe. It was however not confirmed that there was any gunshot wound.
Speaking with one of the deceased’s family members, Mr Livinus Chiama who said that the police should ensure that no stone is left unturned to ensure that the killers of Elijah pay the price for their crime lamented that what made the case more painful is that Elijah actually went to make peace between his cousin and the attackers.
“Ndidiamaka Ihaeatisi, a cousin to Chinasa forced herself into the matter and became too malicious to the extent of conspiring with members of the killer-gang to beat Ebuka. They then started planning how to attack and beat Ebuka. The first person to attempt executing their plans was Okeke Okoro, one of the suspects. Okeke Okoro confronted Ebuka and demanded that he should go and tender an unreserved apology to Chinasa for beating her.
“Ebuka objected, arguing that he could explain his own version if Chinasa was summoned and not him to go and apologize as if he was guilty. This objection of Ebuka did not go down well with Okeke because he later traced Ebuka to his grandmother’s house, threatening to make him face the wrath of his action,” Chiama said.
Lamenting the gruesome murder, Chiama, pointed out that their son was killed in a very regrettable way because he died while making peace.
According to him, the killers of their son have committed the most grievous crime on earth. “We therefore, expect justice to take its course as we cannot take up arms to avenge his murder. The suspects should not go free so as to serve as deterrent to others. For us, the pain is an endless one’, he said.
An eye witness, Mr Godfrey Igweze, revealed that Okeke’s words of threat were, ‘it is either I kill Ebuka or Ebuka should kill me”. He said it took the intervention of several persons who saw the rage in him to save the situation and convince him to go back home.
“Expectedly, everybody thought the matter was over; nobody knew that Okeke and his gang of killers had another agenda, including a plan to maim and kill. So, on a later day when Ebuka was coming back from a business center where he went to charge his mobile phone, he was waylaid by the suspects who beat him up and seized his footwear and cap.”
“The following day after Ebuka was attacked, his cousin, Elijah went with him to dialogue with his attackers, with the hope of making peace between the two parties and to recover Ebuka’s seized items. That was following the advice by elders from Umuezeanokwuru village where Ebuka and Elijah come from. According to Ebuka, they didn’t go there to fight with anybody.
“Unfortunately, Elijah did not come back alive from that peace mission. On sighting the duo of Ebuka and Elijah at a public square, the attackers, numbering five unleashed a mass attack on them with deadly weapons including axes, iron pipes, sticks, machetes and even a gun. Elijah was killed at the spot while Ebuka narrowly escaped with skull-deep axe injury.
It took the intervention of sympathisers to lift Elijah from the pool of his own blood. All efforts to revive him failed as he never said any word or shook his body from that moment. Blood was gushing out from his nose, mouth and ears,” Igweze said.
Mother of the deceased, Mrs Caroline Chiama, while speaking with LEADERSHIP, said her son’s, killers have taken away her joy. She prayed the Enugu State government to ensure that those who killed her son did not escape the wrath of the law.
Following the incident, the deceased’s family members reported the case to Adani Police Division, Uzo-Uwani Local Government Area where the corpse was taken to before it was deposited in a mortuary.
It was learnt that through the concerted efforts of the deceased’s family members, Umuezeanokwuru Youths and members of Security Vigilante group in Affa, Udi LGA of Enugu State who were alerted over the incident, four of the suspects were arrested on 26th May in a neigbouring community, Affa, in Udi Local Government Area where they escaped to.
They were subsequently handed over to officers of Criminal Investigation Department (CID), D4, Enugu, where the case was transferred to for further investigation. LEADERSHIP learnt that the arrested suspects include, Chikwado Okoro, Amaechi Okoro, Udoka Ugwu and Okeke Okoro.
When contacted on the issue the Enugu State Police Command Public Relations Officer, Ebere Amarizu confirmed the incident saying that the command was still investigating it. He assured that no stone would be left unturned to bring all the culprits to book. “the case is under investigation and as soon as it is concluded we shall brief you appropriately, including the number of arrest made,” he said.