Okey Sampson, Umuahia
The dastardly act could only be carried out by soulless humans; beasts, if you like. Otherwise, how else could one explain the tragedy that was visited on a family in Umuahia, Abia State capital, whose home was invaded by six unwanted ‘visitors’ on the night of January 25? If it comes to the worst, they would lose their cash and valuables. That is usually the plot of the story when armed robbers invade a home. In the case of the hapless family, however, what befell them was a catastrophe of epic proportion, for the brigands who visited them were no ordinary thieves. They were hardened, bloodthirsty killers.
The couple, Mr Darlington and Mrs Chinyere Uzoma from Ebonyi State who ran a family business along Secretariat Road, Ogurube Layout, Umuahia, had just returned home to their children after the close of the day’s business when the six robbers knocked on their door. Without wasting time, the thieves made known their intention in a manner that indicated that they were not opportunistic robbers, but the worst of the underworld. In few minutes, they wreaked havoc on the family sending the couple to early graves and turning their children into orphans.
The men allegedly responsible for the horrible act were apprehended a few hours later and were identified as Precious Chukwuebuka Okoro, Ogbonna Ifeanyichukwu Justice, Enyinna Asiegbu (released last month from Okigwe Correctional Facility), Emezuo Kinsley alias Pakins and Promise Sunday Obialor alias Esere, lieutenant of Grave, a notorious robbery kingpin, Grave who was recently killed by the police.
According to Abia State Commissioner of Police, Ene Okon who paraded the suspects at the Abia Command Headquarters, on that fateful day, the gang started their spree with a tricycle before snatching a Sienna Sport Utility Vehicle (SUV) with registration number Abuja: RBC 477 RL which they drove into the house of the Uzomas to rob and murder them. After robbing the couple of cash and valuables, the robbers shot and killed both husband and wife right in the presence of their children despite repeated appeals by their kids to the hoodlums to spare their parents.
A night of killing, robbing spree
The couple’s traumatic children recounted a poignant account of how their parents were murdered in cold blood. After Uzoma was shot dead, one of the robbers pointed his gun at his wife. This was when the couple’s 13-year-old daughter clung to her mother in an effort to shield her from death. The robbers wouldn’t be bothered with such display of chivalry from the teenager. One of them had reportedly shot in the direction of the two, but the mother pushed her daughter away and was struck fatally by the bullets. She slumped and died instantly beside her husband.
After plundering the Uzoma family, the men of the underworld did not stop there. Like Oliver Twist who was not always satisfied with what he had, the robbers went for another operation along Bende Road where they waylaid people including police officers returning from Arochukwu after supervising the rerun election in the area last Saturday. During the operation, the hoodlums dispossessed their victims of valuables and made away with the uniform of one of the police officers after inflicting injuries on him.
However, they ran out of luck, less than two hours after their operation. Two of them were apprehended inside a tricycle by a police patrol team. One thing they say led to the other and the arrested suspects led the police to a brothel where their leader, Esere and other members of the gang were arrested. The weapons and vehicle they used for the night’s robbery were also recovered.
As soon as residents of Umuahia got wind of the parade of the suspects, they thronged the police headquarters in large numbers to catch a glimpse of the hoodlums, some of who waved at the crowd as they were being led away in a police van. At the parade, Commissioner of Police Okon, who noted that police in Abia are seriously challenged by serial armed robbery in Umuahia, expressed delight at the arrest of the gang within two hours of their killing of the couple.
According to him, all the arrested men had been on the police wanted list, while Asiegbu was recently released from Okigwe Correctional Facility in the first week of last December. The suspects who reportedly shot the couple told journalists a cock-and-bull story that the pump-action gun he was holding accidentally fell off and discharged bullets that killed the couple.
Police Commissioner Okon assured that all the suspects would be arraigned immediately investigations were concluded.
“We’ve not come to engage anybody or group in any media war about our modus operandi,” he started and further said, “what I will assure the people of the state is that I will leave Abia better than the way I met it security-wise.” His statement was an obvious reference to those calling for his redeployment in the wake of the robbery incident.
In the meantime, the corpses of the Uzoma couple have been deposited in a morgue in Umuahia.