- Prominent politician denies complicity in the murder
Aloysius Attah, Onitsha
Until he was murdered in a callous and gruesome manner, bearing the trademark of the dreaded Italian Mafia, 39-year-old Julius Chukwudi Chinwuba, was the President General of his community, Oromaetiti-Anam in Anambra West Local Government Area, Anambra State.
Chinwuba was hacked down on November 15, 2017. His killers furiously dealt with him that even when he had stopped breathing, they were not done with their savage treatment to his body. The attackers burst his two eyes, burnt his skin, tied him on both hands and legs and fastened his body to a sandbag and concrete block before throwing him into the River Niger probably to ensure that the weight on his body would make him sink forever in the river.
To the chagrin and great disappointment of his killers, Chinwuba’s body was discovered floating on the river two days later while his alleged killers are walking freely in the community till today.
Though the dead can no longer talk, Sunday Sun gathered that prior to his eventual murder, Chukwudi knew that his life was in danger and tried all he could do to stay alive at least for the sake of his young family.
Documents obtained by this reporter confirmed that he wrote several petitions to the police to offer him protection following repeated threats to his life, physical attack on him and his family property and farmland.
In one of the petitions dated April 18, 2017, addressed to the Commissioner of Police, Anambra State Command, Chinwuba through his lawyer, A. U. Obojiofor, alleged that his life had been under serious threat by one Chief Raphael Okeke (aka Udenze), a politician, over the outcome of the town union election of their community where he (Chinwuba) emerged the winner and elected President General.
In the said petition, Chinwuba alleged that Okeke had threatened him and demanded that he should withdraw from contesting the election against his (Okeke’s) choice, one Mr Charles Ekwenze or else risk losing his life.
In the petition duly received and stamped by the Anambra Police Commissioner’s office on April 20, 2017, Chinwuba now late said that he called Okeke’s bluff and went ahead to contest the election monitored by the office of the Special Assistant to Anambra State Governor Willie Obiano on Chieftaincy and Town Union Matters. After the votes were counted, he defeated Okeke’s preferred choice, and this resulted in his life allegedly being made hellish by Chief Okeke.
He claimed that Okeke instigated his cohorts, mostly some youth loyalists in his village, who attacked one Okechukwu Okonkwo and also abducted Joe Agbata, the two people who nominated and seconded his candidature to the election.
Chinwuba also alleged in the petition that the same gang allegedly working for Okeke attacked him and family and destroyed their property, and this made him and family members to flee to another community for safety even as he appealed to the police to offer him protection.
Journey to death
Narrating to Sunday Sun how his brother was murdered, Chinwuba’s younger brother, Chinenye Chinwuba, an engineer, said that the killing of his brother was purely a premeditated murder allegedly instigated by Okeke, a former member of the House of Representatives from the area.
Though Okeke denied all the allegations leveled against him, describing them as the handiwork of his political opponents, Chinenye said that he strongly believes Okeke’s culpability in the matter.
In an emotion laden voice, he said that what his brother wrote in the several petitions he sent to the law enforcement agencies to save his life from the hands of Okeke and his cohorts were true and that his own life and the family left behind by his murdered brother are no more safe.
“My brother’s wife and children are now living like refugees and fugitives as they run for dear live. Our farmland and crops in the community were all destroyed by the same murderous people. I was planning to get married and settle down before my brother’s life was brutally cut short and that has shattered my plans. I’m also running for my own life too because I know I’m not safe. We know those who murdered my brother and they are boasting about it because of Abuja connection.”
Recalling how he got news of the incident, he said that his brother, who before his death had relocated from the community after attacks by the same murderous group, called him on phone that he was summoned by some people in the community to come for a peace meeting.
His words: “Before now, our community was in turmoil. But approaching election time for the town union executives of Oromaetiti Anam, some people nominated my brother for the post of President General but the acclaimed political godfather in our place, Hon Ralph Okeke said he wanted another person for the post. In that scenario, only a simpl democratic election would settle the matter. In an open ballot system, my brother carried the day as the majority of the people queued behind him. From that very moment he became a target.
“The political godfather felt slighted, saying that it was an abomination for his own candidate to fail, and my brother who was a small boy to him would become the President General. He (Ralph Okeke) instigated some people, including my cousins, and they stormed our house, destroyed all the yam seedlings for planting, burnt the house and it was a narrow escape for my sister-in-law and the children as my brother wasn’t at home that day.
“What my brother did after this incident was what a normal citizen would have done. He wrote a petition against Okeke over the incident and ran for his life too. In the process, police sent some people to investigate but the same set of boys beat up the police team that came then from Mmiata Anam. My brother who was supposed to be the complainant was even arrested and taken to Abuja and the same Ralph Okeke visited him in the police cell and told him that the only way he could save himself was for him to relinquish his position as the town union president so that his anointed candidate could take over.
“I called Okeke on the phone and asked him why he wanted to kill my brother but Ralph told me that he was loyal to my father when he was alive and for that reason, my brother should also reciprocate that same loyalty to him. I told him that he needed to convince my brother and not coerce him. The tension continued and my brother had to leave the village for them.
“On the November 15, 2017, my brother called and informed me that he was going to the village because Nnam Anaekwe, my uncle, called him for a peace meeting. Before then, one of my cousins had already told me that a secret meeting on how to kill my brother had been concluded so I told my brother to be very careful. As he went there, I was keeping in touch with him through phone but at a stage the line went dead. I had to go to the village immediately and I was approaching their supposed meeting venue, I started hearing noise. That was when I noticed that they had started brutalizing him. I called one of them on phone and he threatened me saying me that by the time they finish with my brother, he would be blind if he eventually survived what they planned to do to him.
“They killed him and I thought that they even hid his body somewhere but we didn’t know that they threw his body into the River Niger. When this happened, I called Udenze on phone but he initially denied knowing anything about the incident. He told me earlier that he warned the people from touching my brother before the Anambra governorship election so that it won’t look like a war between APGA and APC. He (Udenze) later called me and confirmed to me that my brother had been killed and expressed regret that the boys who murdered him had grown haywire that they sometimes don’t take his instructions again. He asked me to come and see him so as to know the way forward.
“I started shouting immediately Udenze broke the news of my brother’s murder to me and I quickly called the same Orjiakor (surname withheld) who told me earlier that my brother was only tied with rope and not dead but he wasn’t picking his calls again. We were searching for the corpse until somebody told us that he was thrown into the river. We alerted the police when the corpse was sighted afloat at Ani Asaa, a meeting point where River Niger touched our village and we recovered and deposited the remains in the mortuary.
Chinenye said that it was in the thick of efforts to arrest the suspects by the police in Anambra command that a signal came from Force Headquarters Abuja that Udenze had written a petition and that the Awka people should hands off the case.
He described the complaint and petition by Udenze as diversionary tactics aimed at arresting justice over the matter wondering why a man who has some questions to answer over Chinwuba’s death should now be a complainant. He listed the names of those who were instigated into killing his brother to include (all surnames withheld by us) Odikpo, Onyebuchi, Udeze, Ogochukwu (this one struck him with a sword), Onyeachonam, Simeon, Agbo, Ifediora, Ezeani, a native doctor who swore the killers to an oath, Chinedu, Nzedigbo (who came down from Lagos to execute the plan), Onuora, Nwakasi, Obava, Chibuzo and Chibuko , among others. He said all of them were in the so-called peace meeting, which served as bait for his brother from where they picked him and accomplished their target.
N5million offer to forget the matter
Expressing disgust over the turn of events in the matter, Chinenye alleged that her brother’s killers have been calling and also using some intermediaries to offer him money so as to drop the case against them.
He noted that at a time, he had to play along with them when they summoned a meeting at a Catholic Church compound in Awada Onitsha before he finally lambasted them for giving him that devilish option.
“They offered me N5million and I told them to draft an agreement. To my surprise, they really drafted the agreement so that I could collect money, sign the agreement and forget pursuing justice for my late brother. In the meeting which I know was still at the instance of Udenze were Peter, Ignatius, Chibuzo, Chibuko, Eboatu and a priest who was trying to mediate. If I collect money and forgo justice for my late brother, what will I tell his children when they grow up? They murdered him in cold blood that afternoon, mutilated his body all through before throwing him into the river. If not by divine providence, we wouldn’t have seen his corpse and the killers would have simply said that my brother ran away not knowing that they had finished him.
“The petition written by our lawyer, Emma Uduaka, was sent since January 8, 2018, but nothing has been done and we are looking at the police for justice because if nothing is done about this, it is an encouragement for impunity to thrive. If this is not corrected, there is the tendency that this kind of crime will continue. Some people can kill and throw inside water tomorrow because those who committed such act in the past didn’t receive any punishment.”
They callously murdered my husband – Wife
Chinwuba’s wife, Mrs Theresa Chinwuba, a mother of four children, broke into uncontrollable tears while speaking to Sunday Sun. She noted that though she was not in the village when her husband was attacked, she rushed to the scene on receiving the information and even saw his killers whom he said are not foreigners but people from the same village.
“The way they killed my husband pains me to the marrow. The election he won was democratically conducted and they knew he won. I don’t know the crime he committed that they had to deal with us this way. They sacked us from our home and destroyed all our farm produce. We are already living like refugees before they finally deceived him to come to that meeting where they killed him.
“I got a distress call that afternoon and met my husband at the point of death among his attackers. He was already gasping for breath and I rushed to assist him. I was trying to see if I could rescue him but they came to attack me too (bursts into tears).
“I want the government to do something about this. Even Governor Willie Obiano should intervene because this is human life. I saw all those who murdered my husband and they should be arrested and punished accordingly. My parents are late and we rely on people’s assistance to feed the children now. This great injustice should not be allowed to stand,” she said.