Okey Sampson, Umuahia
If you have a teacher that takes either your kid or ward in extra-curricular studies, you may need to get for yourself an extra pair of eyeglasses so that you can read in-between the lines as you go through this shocking story. And, if you have a home teacher who prefers that you send your child or ward to their home for that purpose, it is high time perhaps that you changed that arrangement. This is because it carries with it a lot of loopholes that the devil or his crime partners can exploit to do their worse any day an evil idea strikes their mind. In short, it is fraught with dangers!
These lessons we learn from the story of Master Winner Adindu, the six-year-old son of Adindu Nwokeleme of Osusu village, Ahiaba Mbu autonomous community in Obingwa Local Government Area of Abia State. To start with, he lost his mother at the age of about four. After the tragedy, his father who works in a firm in Benin City, Edo State, decided to leave him and his younger sister, Miracle, 4, in the care of a relation. His uncle, sources said, decided to organise an extra-mural lesson for him. His teacher, one Mrs. Kasarachi Uzoma, was said to always come to their home to pick Winner for the lesson done in her home situated within the locality.
Boy discovered missing
This arrangement went on without any hitch until October 24, 2019 when Mrs. Uzoma picked up Winner from their home as usual. But for the first time, the boy did not return as he reportedly got missing. A search team that included the teacher was raised by Adindu’s relations to look for him everywhere. When the boy could not be found after diligent and exhaustive search for him, Lazarus Uzoije, Adindu’s maternal uncle reported the matter to the Dragon Squad of the Nigeria Police in Aba. The commander, Moses Iserhienrhien (Chief Superintendent of Police) swung into action and ordered Sergeant Ndifreke Ukpong to carry out a detailed investigation into the circumstances surrounding his sudden disappearance. According to Uzoije, Adindu was in Benin working when on October 24, he called from there to tell him about the missing boy and the need to get the police informed and involved in the search for him.
A retired police officer from the area, Ikechukwu Nwadibia, informed that when the incident happened, the boy’s father wanted the police to carry out mass arrest of people involved but they felt that the focus should be on rescuing him alive. And, this is what Iserhienrhien and his men eventually achieved.
Police initial investigation revealed that Winner’s teacher, Mrs. Uzoma who had, all along feigned ignorance of the boy’s whereabouts and had even joined in searching for him, actually had a hand in his disappearance. Given the scenario, she and her husband, Uzoma Sunday Ako, were promptly arrested by the police. A source said that during police investigation, it was discovered that the teacher, after picking up Winner from his guardian’s home, on the pretext of taking him to her home for the lesson, instead handed him over to a suspected child trafficker called “Anambra.” That transaction, as it turned out, marked the beginning of Winner’s disappearance and journey to a “foreign” land, namely Nnewi.
The rescue operation
In all, the Police searched for the boy for about eight months during which time they kept receiving conflicting reports about possible places where he might be kept. The initial report was that “Anambra” who is still at large, after collecting little Winner from his teacher, Mrs. Uzoma, took him to Port Harcourt. But several visits to the Rivers State capital by the police in Aba turned up nothing tangible. However, in the first week of August, 2020, information came that Anambra took the boy to a lady at Nnewi, Anambra State, named Nkiru Eze and sold him for N450, 000.
According to Chief Chamberlin Ngozi Okwandu, traditional ruler of Osusu village, “initially, information came that the boy was taken to Port Harcourt in Rivers State, the police went to Rivers State capital on three or four occasions in search of the missing child. But there was no sign of him anywhere. Later, we got information that the boy was taken to Anambra. The officers again spread their dragnet to Anambra and after several months of efforts, they were able to rescue the boy.”
When it was finally established that Winner was sold to a woman in Nnewi, the Dragon Squad set out to rescue him. First, the squad contacted the police at Nnewi, which said they were investigating the suspect, Mrs. Eze for another offence. With the collaboration of the police at Nnewi, she was arrested and the boy rescued. However, the suspect was not brought to Aba for prosecution as she is said to still being held by the police at Nnewi for this other offence. Saturday Sun learnt that it is after that that she will be brought to Aba.
The intelligence feat performed by the police that led to the arrest of the woman and eventual rescue of the hapless boy got the traditional Chief of Osusu village’s commendation. He enthused: “The Dragon Commander in Aba has done what Napoleon could not do and I’m asking the Commissioner of Police in Abia to recommend him for promotion.”
How father traded son for houses
But as police were making frantic efforts to rescue Winner, his father allegedly went behind to reach agreement with Mr. Uzoma whose wife was instrumental to his son’s disappearance to trade in the boy with two uncompleted buildings. The agreement was that Adindu should take possession of Uzoma’s two uncompleted buildings in Osusu village in lieu of Winner if eventually he was not found. If however, according to the agreement he is found, the two houses would then revert to their original owner.
According to Nwadibia, the man whose son was missing, had an agreement with Uzoma and his village people that if they did not see their child, they would take his (Uzoma’s) house. Initially, the owner reportedly wanted him to choose one of the two buildings. But he said no and insisted on being given the two. Says Nwadibia: “They gave it to him for peace to reign. But after two weeks, he went and laced it with juju and red cloth. He put the fetish items in the premises; that juju is still there up to this moment.”
The essence of lacing the premises with juju, he explained was to make sure that Uzoma never repossessed the two houses in the event the boy was not found. When the reporter visited the area, the juju clothed with red material was still standing in-between the two houses.
Corroborating Nwadibia’s account, Adindu’s uncle added that “Uzoma told us that even if he was sent to prison, our son will not come back, that the best thing for us to do was to take his uncompleted building in place of the boy in case he was not found.”
Asked whether he was there when the agreement was reached, he said: “Yes, we made the agreement with Uzoma to take the uncompleted buildings in place of the boy since we had not seen the child since then, but we also stated in the agreement that when once the boy was seen, we would hand over his buildings back to him.”
The juju scare
But though Winner has been found, rescued and returned to his parent and guardian, it is not yet Uhuru for Uzoma and his wife, owners of the buildings. This is because, to start with, Uzoma is nowhere to be found as he is said to be on the run following the discovery of their evil deed. Secondly, the buildings are still laced with juju.
Our correspondent sought the opinions of those in the know about the matter. According to Uzoije, even if he is around, Uzoma cannot go back to repossess the house just like that. “Before that could be done, the father of the boy (Adindu) will go back to where he brought the juju from so that the people who placed it will come and remove it before he can repossess the buildings or else he will die. I have asked my brother to bring the people that gave him the juju to come and remove them since he cannot do that by himself because he has no power to remove it unless he wants to die”.
Confirming this fact, another native who does not want his name in print said, “there is no way Uzoma can enter his house if he comes back because of the juju they put there which we were told was collected from Ijebu Ode. The father of the boy must remove the juju, and this he has not done. Uzoma cannot enter the house or he will die.”
Community banishes teacher, vows to punish her husband
Apart from the fetish objects placed on the premises of the buildings, the people of Osusu community are not taking the incident lightly. They see what happened as a sacrilege and therefore have vowed to punish the culprits. For a start, the community has sent Mrs. Uzoma who hails from Isiala Ngwa area of the state, packing. Making known the stance of the community in a chat with our correspondent, the traditional ruler of the place, Chief Okwandu said: “For the wife of Uzoma who actually took the boy and sold, as far as we are concerned, her marriage with Uzoma has ended. We’ve asked her to go because we cannot have such a woman in our community as a wife. The woman is from Nenu in Isiala Ngwa and has gone home, not to come back here anymore.”
As for Uzoma who is still on the run, they said whenever he comes back he would be brought to the council hall and given his own punishment before they hand him over to the police. They said they might likely send him into exile like Umuofia did to Okonkwo in Things Fall Apart when he mistakenly killed the son of Ezeudo. They accused Uzoma and his wife of not only committing sacrilege but also of bringing shame to the village.