Chief Emeka Mama is a community leader in Imufu, Enugu Ezike, in the Igboeze North Local Government Area of Enugu State. He tells RAPHAEL EDE how the police allegedly frustrated the investigation into the rape and murder of a 20-year-old lady, Ngozi Eze, on March 26, 2019.
How did you learn about Ngozi’s death?
We were alerted on March 26, 2019, that Ngozi went for extramural study at Township School Ogborute 1 and didn’t come back. We alerted the security personnel – people in the neighbourhood. Early the next day, they informed us that they found her in a bush behind Community Secondary School, Imufu, where they saw her half-naked lying face up. We rushed to the place and confirmed it. She was half-naked. A woman among us had to donate her wrapper which we used to cover her nakedness and then invited the police. By the time the police were carrying her to their vehicle, blood was oozing from her private parts. For us who were there, we thought it was rape – that the person raped and killed her because there was no way she could have died, if it was ordinary rape. We invited the police and the police came and from their own investigation they named a suspect who happened to have tried to marry her but she refused.
What happened afterwards?
We cooperated with the police in providing information and other assistance. But for about a year and five months now, no policeman visited the school the girl attended. They didn’t even go there at all. This girl (deceased) was there. Who were her friends? How did it happen? We continued to remind them (the police). The president-general of our community is an ex-policeman. He continued to guide them to take this step, but they were only interested in money.
Why did you wait for 17 months to bury the girl?
Why we didn’t bury this girl since then was because they (the police) demanded money for a corona inquest form that is normally issued free of charge and we were already exhausted. The police gave us the name of a person who is in Onitsha, Anambra State, and said we should go and arrest the person. We used our neighbourhood watch personnel from here (Imufu) to arrest the man and kept him at Fega police station. We still paid money to the police and also hired a bus for them to go and bring the man (the suspect they said we should arrest). So, it was like that; they didn’t do any serious work.
We are lucky that the commissioner of police came and we went through the Police Force Public Relations Officer, DCP Frank Mbah, to complain about what happened. Without him, there was no way we could have buried the girl.
So, Frank spoke with the new commissioner of police and he (CP) invited us. I went with the PG of our community. We told the commissioner what happened. He was angry but there was nothing he could do. That was how we started talking about burying the girl and he asked the homicide unit to give us the coroner’s inquest form. We still contributed about N300,000 to pay for an autopsy because, left for the police, we would not have buried the girl today. At a point, we wrote a petition to the Force Headquarters which they didn’t reply to. The mother of this girl has been at home since the incident (occurred) and her okpa cooking business in Abuja was stalled. Again, there was no way she could have gone back when the remains of her daughter were still in the morgue. We should pray not to find ourselves in trouble because nobody will investigate anything.
What is the demand of the community in this case?
We demand justice for our daughter who was killed unjustly. There is nobody who will be happy that their daughter was killed. The killers are out there and nothing happened. We are very angry because the suspects have not been punished. Even on our own, we are still part of the investigation because we were tracking the phone number that was calling her up to the school where she was picked up. At a point when we tracked the number to Nasarawa, we sent the information to the police but the police did nothing. I suspect that the people who killed her came from Anambra State because, apparently, they were calling the deceased. They came from Anambra State through Obollo-Afor and that was how they got here because of what we got from the tracking. We were giving the police the information. At a point, they said the suspect was in Nasarawa State and that is the end. So, it is very pathetic.
What has been the response of the local government or state since the incident occurred?
The local government chairman didn’t visit anybody here in the community. It is the same thing with the state (government). If it were in another society, when someone is killed unjustly like this, the state will take over. This is the trauma of the man not having money and the whole village paying money for everything. It is a very painful thing.