By Sunday Ani ([email protected]ahoo.com)
Only demented souls could do this. About two weeks ago, some men abducted 14-year-old Miss Uzoamaka Chukwu from Uburu in Ohaozara Local Government Area of Ebonyi State and took her to the home of a council official where they visited hell on her. Indeed, for the teenager, it was like a journey through the valley of the shadow of death. She remains traumatised and in shock.
Uzoamaka, who is in JSS 2, was stripped naked and flogged like a common criminal allegedly under the supervision of the coordinator, Ohaozara Development Centre, Mr. Ogbonnaya Ene Odi. While the ugly incident was going on, it was recorded. Thereafter, the video was uploaded on Facebook and other social media platforms for the world to see.
Evil men, evil act
From the video clip, Uzoamaka was dragged on the floor in the sitting room, belonging to the coordinator while putting on only pant. Thereafter, she was hurled into the centre of the sitting room like a rag and ordered to remove the pant, which was the only piece of clothing on her. And while a coarse voice of an unseen man from the background was ordering her to completely strip herself, some men were busy recording it on their phones.
Then the voice ordered her to stand up. And as she was trying to cover her private part with her hands, the same voice ordered her to remove her hands and allow the world to freely view her womanhood. Left with no choice, she reluctantly complied but the sergeant-at-arms, bearing a long horsewhip landed the first lash on her pubic region. She screamed on top of her voice but rather than touch the hearts of the evil men, they got exhilarated and the second wicked lash landed on the same spot, forcing a deep excruciating moan from the poor girl.
Apparently enjoying her agony of pains, questions as to the number of men she had slept with were coming in torrents from her tormentors, who expected as many names as possible from her, whether real or imagined. She was trembling like a leaf, as she muttered in pains, any name that came to her mind, just to escape from her tormentors. Not convinced that she was making a true confession, they forced her to lie on the centre table face down while another round of lashes landed on her buttocks.
From the video, two men were clearly seen, debasing and dehumanising her while a voice was reverberating from the background, commanding her to confess that she had been sleeping around with different men. The same voice informed her that she was being videoed, with a threat that the video would be uploaded on the Internet if she did not cooperate with them. It was division of labour for the two men manhandling her. One was dishing out the lashes while the other one, who was identified by Uzoamaka as a policeman, allegedly on an illegal duty, held her hands to ensure that she was well positioned on the centre table for the horsewhip to properly locate her buttocks.
Further checks revealed that her tormentor-in-chief, who gave the lashes, as seen from the video was Mr. Enekwachi Ene Odi, who is said to be the coordinator’s a younger brother.
What was the young Uzoamaka’s offence? She was accused of sleeping around with different men, both single and married. It was an action the coordinator allegedly considered a threat to the peace of the community and which must be nipped in the bud.
It was gathered that there were other girls who would have suffered the same fate as Uzoamaka but they escaped by hair’s breath. They were said to have gotten an inkling of what was happening to Uzoamaka and they fled to a neighbouring community to take refuge.
The coordinator was said to have sent his boys after Uzoamaka and other girls for disturbing the peace of the community. The boys alongside two policemen, having been let loose by their paymaster, roared into the community and pounced on the innocent Uzoamaka. The girl was stripped naked and bundled into the coordinator’s sitting room, where the entire wicked and shameful episode took place.
From the horse’s mouth
Contrary to the stunts the perpetrators’ fed the social media consumers that Uzoamaka was caught by her father, having sex with her boyfriend in the family sitting room, which was why she was disgraced publicly, Uzoamaka does not have a father, neither does she have a mother. She is an orphan.
When our reporter spoke to Uzoamaka, she dismissed reports that it was her father, who stripped her naked, flogged her, recorded the incident and uploaded it on the Internet, saying she is an orphan. She accused the coordinator of Ohaozara Development Centre in Ebonyi State, as the brain behind the incident. She alleged that the coordinator sent his boys alongside two policemen to arrest her and bundle her to his residence, where she was debased and dehumanised in the cruelest manner.
Asked if she knew what she did, which yielded the punishment, the 14-year-old girl said: “I did not do anything. They told me that I was a criminal and that I was sleeping with men, including married ones but that is not true. The truth is that the coordinator’s younger brother, Enekwachi, who is also called Ogbuefi has been making love advances towards me but I have bluntly refused his love advances because I am still too young for that kind of life. Each time I was going to the market, he would accost me and plead with me to go into his house with him but I had always refused. His disturbance became too much but I refused to cave in. Maybe, that was why they decided to disgrace me because he was the person that was flogging me.”
She informed our reporter that what was posted on the social media was a tip of the iceberg, as the dehumanisation started right from the coordinator’s compound before she was brought into the sitting room for proper recording. She alleged that the coordinator bought a bottle of hot drink and emptied the content on her after she was stripped naked.
In an emotion-laden voice, she continued: “The coordinator asked them to strip me naked inside his sitting room. Thereafter, he brought a bottle of Rock hot drink and started pouring it all over my body, after which they thoroughly beat me. The content of the hot drink made the flogging worse; it was just like my entire body was laced with ground pepper. The coordinator was forcing me to confess that I had been sleeping with men. I had to start mentioning names of men I don’t even know, thinking that they would let me to go but that never happened. The beating started from outside before I was dragged inside the palour where they gave me more beatings. The coordinator told me that the whole thing was being recorded and that he would upload it on the Internet. There were five video cameramen that recorded me while I was stark naked. In all, they were nine men in the room where they dehumanised and humiliated me, including the two policemen in mufti.”
According to the girl, Enekwachi was the happiest among her tormentors, as he appeared to have seized the opportunity to punish her for refusing all his past love advances. “That was why his flogging was so ferocious. He flogged me four times on the buttocks. The two policemen also joined in beating me. The policemen were picked from Ohaozara Local Government Area,” she stated.
Uzoamaka could not remember the exact date the incident happened, but she remembered very well that after the men were tired of dehumanising her and viewing her nudity, they subjected her to a forced HIV test. She also remembered vividly that the coordinator gave her N100 to treat herself after the whole drama.
“After all the beating, they forced me to do HIV test. They took me to a clinic at the local government headquarters in Obiozara. Thereafter, the coordinator gave me N100 for treatment.”
Cry for justice
Uzoamaka informed our reporter that she would want the government to assist her by ensuring that she got justice. She wants the men who dragged her womanhood on the mud and treated her like a common criminal to be brought to book. She particularly wants the coordinator and his brother, Enekwachi, to face the music as that would serve as deterrent to other power-drunk politicians, who may want to engage in similar act in future.
She said: “Since that day, I have not been myself. I have been on treatment since then. All I want is justice. They must be punished. Government should come to my rescue. I know the coordinator is influential because he is a politician but I am appealing to the Ebonyi State government, led by Engr. Dave Umahi, as well as the Federal Government under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari, not to allow this matter die without the culprits facing justice. They should be made to pay for their sins. That is the only thing that would assuage my bitterness to some degree. They have disgraced and debased me but I know that God is watching over all of us.”
Reacting to Uzoamaka’s ordeal, her elder sister, Miss Ukamaka Chukwu, described her as calm, obedient and well-behaved. “She couldn’t have done what they said she did. They are deliberately telling lies against her just to damage her image. I know that God will punish them but I also want justice for my sister. They should be punished for their evil act against an innocent girl. They must never go unpunished,” she said.
According to Uzoamaka’s maternal cousin, Mr. Uchechukwu Agwu, the little girl was thoroughly abused for committing no offence. He said the girl, who is an orphan stayed with him until she was 11. “She and her sister grew up under my roof. They became orphan at a very tender age and I decided to stay with them, so I can personally train them. Apart from one of them, who was under the care of my aunt, the other two were under my care. I brought them up and I know their character very well.
“In 2013, I decided to send Uzoamaka to the village to stay with my mother, who needed somebody to assist her in domestic chores since age is no longer on her side. There was nobody staying with my mum and that was why I sent Uzoamaka to stay with her in the village. She was 11 when I sent her to the village.
“The Development Centre Coordinator and his partners in crime accused her of sleeping around with different men in the village. If you watch the video clip of where they were flogging her after stripping her naked, you will hear when they were asking her to name all the men she had slept with in the village.”
He insisted that the mastermind of the criminal and savagery act is the coordinator, Mr. Ogbonnaya Ene Odi. “From what I heard, the man said that they were deviants and that he wanted to put them under check. But nobody informed me; not even my brother in the village was aware of this so-called deviant behviour that they accused her of. They never bothered to bring such development to the knowledge of my mother, whom she was staying with. They just went ahead to disgrace her because they felt she had nobody to speak for her,” he stated.
Asked if those behind the dastardly act have any kind of filial relation with the girl, Agwu said: “They are not related to the girl in any way. She did not steal neither did she fight with anybody, yet, she was subjected to such inhuman treatment. And by the way, how does the way she live her life concern them?” he queried.
He also corroborated information about the girls on the run, saying, “I learnt that there are other girls they wanted to give the same treatment like my cousin but those ones escaped to the neighbouring village when they heard what had happened to my cousin. According to information, they said they wanted to arrest all the girls, who, they alleged, were sleeping around and hand them over to the police.”
Wondering where the coordinator derived such autocratic powers from, he said: “He is using political power to terrorise the entire community, claiming that he wants to restore peace in the community. I don’t understand how what he had done would bring about peace in the community. I can’t even see the correlation between what had happened and his efforts at bringing peace to the community. They are at variance with each other. They are entirely two different matters. Personally, I am convinced that there is more to the matter than meets the eye but I know that in the fullness of time, the truth shall come out. What we are asking for is justice for the girl. The people that committed this evil act against the poor girl should be made to face the full weight of law.”
A concerned citizen of Ebonyi State, who pleaded anonymity, said that the suspects were boasting that nothing would happen at the end of the day. “ They said it would only cost money and the case will be closed,” the source stated.
Efforts to speak to the coordinator proved abortive, as his phone was switched off. Meanwhile, the coordinator and his co-travellers have been arrested by the Ebonyi State Police Command while investigation into the matter is ongoing. This was confirmed by the Ebonyi State Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), DSP George Okafor.
According to him, the suspects were in police custody at Abakaliki, the state capital. He, however, lamented that Uzoamaka’s family had kept away from the police, stressing that it was not good for ongoing investigation.
He said: “The suspects have been arrested and they are under our custody but the problem is that the victim has kept away from us. This matter was transferred to us by the Department of State Security (DSS) on Friday, August 5. We are on top of it, as we are doing everything possible to get the victim to come to us. They even went to the African Independent Television (AIT) with the victim without bringing her to the police. Please, we are on it and we will still come up with a press release. on that matter.”