By Chioma Okezie-Okeh
Livinus Michael Eweje is a farmer in Ogun State and all his life, he learnt how to survive from the proceeds of farming.
Today, Livinus’life has turned upside down. He risks being hanged or jailed for life after beating his blood relative, Emmanuel Eba to death over what he described as defamation of character that was gradually taking away his only source of livelihood.
He was arrested by the Ogun State Police Command when the news of the circumstances surrounding the death of Emmanuel was reported at Odeda police station.
According to the state police spokesperson, Abimbola Oyeyemi, a deputy superintendent of police (DSP), Livinus fought his kinsman when Eba refused to retract his statement that he was not a reliable person. Despite plea from witnesses, Livinus allegedly beat up the deceased till he became unconscious. On realising what he did, Livinus fled the scene and relocated to Sango. But the police traced him to his hideout and arrested him.
Sad and begging for mercy, Livinus who is currently detained at the State Criminal Investigative Department told Saturday Sun that his only intention was to force the deceased to retract his statement.
“I am from Obi Local Government area in Benue State and 27 years old. I dropped out of school and became a full-time farmer. My parents are farmers and we were born and brought up in Ogun State.
“I started my own farm where I cultivate yam, cassava, tomatoes and pepper. I also help other farmers for a fee. We collect as much N50,000 to clear at least five plots of land. Emmanuel is my paternal blood relative; we grew up together in Oloru village.
“Months before this incident, I started hearing rumours that I do not do my work properly. Normally when you get a contract to clear a field or weeds, the owner of the job will pay an advance fee. I discovered that because of the rumours, my contractors were demanding that I finish the entire work before I get paid. It is not possible because I need to feed and pay for transport. Some others avoid me during the new planting season. I later found out that it was Emmanuel that was busy spreading such rumours.
“I cautioned him and even reported him to our elders. I thought he would stop. I got another job, the owner reluctantly gave me a N10, 000 advance for a work that would take me up to a week to finish.
“I did the work and called the owner who is based in Abuja for my balance. He said he was not going to pay till comes in person and inspect the work. I asked him why and he said that Emmanuel warned him about me.
“I was so angry and raced home to find Emmanuel. I confronted him and he was laughing. In front of elders, I told him to go and reverse his statement about me if he wanted peace. He laughed and said that he would never do it. We started fighting and I beat him up thoroughly. I was angry because he had spoilt my only source of livelihood,” he recounted.
Minutes later, relatives and passerby who had gathered at the scene managed to separate them when they discovered that Emmanuel was losing breath, Livinus recalled. “People around later separated us but by then he was panting. I ran away when I noticed that he was lying on the grass and still breathing like he was going to die.
“They took him to the general hospital and I monitored the situation from afar. I was in the farm when I heard people crying that Emmanuel is dead. I was devastated and I knew that if I showed my face, they would kill me. I decided to hide in the forest till the night. I then sneaked into my room through the window and took some clothes and the only cash left in my house. I ran to my brother’s house in Sango and told him what happened. He was the one that took me to the police station the next day.
“I am sorry and I beg for forgiveness. I know that I cannot bring back the dead. I only wanted to teach him a lesson.”