From Aloysius Attah, Onitsha
All is not well within the royal family of Umuedeke Kindred, Nkolofia Village, Awka-Etiti community, Idemili South Local Government, Anambra State. Three months after the murder of Prince Angus Chukwuma Ojukwu, peace has literally taken flight from the family.
Chukwuma, popularly known as Agujiugo, was the son of the former traditional ruler of Awka-Etiti, Igwe Akum Ojukwu. He was murdered inside his father’s palace by yet to be identified assailants on September 7.
Some members of the family have squared up against the wife of the late monarch and mother of the deceased prince, Lolo Ngozi Ojukwu, accusing her of having a hand in her son’s death. But the woman countered that those making the allegations probably knew how the prince was murdered.
Before his death, Agujiugo fought many battles on different fronts. He was literally up in arms against members of his community when he tried to lay claim to the throne, if his father died, even when the constitution of the community had stipulated that Igweship title was not hereditary but rotational among the villages that made up the community.
Daily Sun gathered that he also had a running battle against his wife and mother of his three children, which culminated in several police and court cases. He eventually left his Ogidi home for his wife and relocated to the village.
His biological mother, Lolo Ngozi Ojukwu, was also not left out of his many battles, as, at a point, he reportedly disowned his mother for not allowing him free access to the family’s property, including land.
Three months after his death, there is no clue yet towards apprehending the killers. The battle now is that members of the extended Ojukwu family are up in arms against Agujiugo’s mother over plans to bury him without the conclusion of investigations by the police. They are also accusing the woman of not carrying the entire family along.
Giving insight into the circumstances leading to Agujiugo’s murder, secretary of the Ojukwu family, Mr. Ikenna, told Daily Sun that the deceased went to report his mother to the police in Awka and was killed the same night.
“A few days to his death, the mother sent thugs to destroy the fence close to the palace. They came early in the morning, before dawn, and left after destroying the fence. We called for a family meeting after the destruction and resolved to meet on Sunday. The mother came back on Wednesday and finished up the destruction and finally arrested Agujiugo and took him to the station.
“We sent someone to take him on bail when we discovered that he was arrested and detained at the instance of his mother, but the person discovered that the matter was not even properly registered. In the process of trying to sort things out, the mother came again and took him on bail. The mother was also sending him food while in detention and the DPO then told us to go home and settle because the whole thing was a family matter.
“After his release, the mother, at a time, sent the local town criers to do a public announcement that no part of their land was for sale. This was an open manifestation of the fact that he had a running battle really with his mother. Not too long after, the prince issued a public disclaimer of his mother too. He brought out the mom’s chieftaincy stool and other personal effects and burnt all of them outside the palace. He even made some scathing allegations of her mother’s alleged complicity in his father’s death.
“The next day, a Monday, he went and reported his mother to the police in Awka. Coming back by 5pm the same day with his female lover, he discovered that their house security had been tampered with. On enquiry, some children within the vicinity told them that some boys on a motorcycle actually came and forcibly entered the compound.
“His lover became afraid and told him that they should look for alternative arrangement to sleep outside the palace that night but he insisted that there was no cause for alarm. He instead said they would put on the generator to ensure adequate visibility and dispel all fears that night.
“He vowed not to sleep outside the compound that night and that marked his journey to death. The girlfriend told us that, suddenly, after some minutes of putting on the light, the generation went off. Agujiugo then went downstairs to check what was wrong with the generator when he was swooped on by the assailants who descended on him with dangerous weapons from their hideout inside the palace.
“According to the girl, he was shouting for help and the boys beat him mercilessly and followed him upstairs to his room where they eventually smashed his head with bottles and logs of wood, inflicting deadly injuries on him. The girl said she ran for cover and later jumped down from the first floor of the palace building before she went and alerted other neighbours who contacted the local vigilante operatives.
“Before the vigilante men could get to the scene, it took hours and he vomited blood severally before he was eventually taken to Fatima Hospital, Awka-Etiti, in the wee hours of the morning. The doctor ordered that he should have a CT scan and we even borrowed some money to offset the cost of the bills for the medical tests, including the one at the teaching hospital, Nnewi, where the scan was done. That period, the mother was called on phone and the extent of emergency relayed to her but she said she didn’t have any cash on her. She said the little cash she had on her, there was no means of sending the money to them at that odd hours. She said she would come early in the morning at dawn.
“The doctor after the scan told us that Agujiugo sustained deep injuries in the skull and brain and that his survival would be a miracle. Not quite long after leaving the Nnewi teaching hospital to go back to Fatima Hospital, Awka-Etiti, Agujiugo jerked for life and gave up the ghost.”
Narrating further what happened, Ernest, the oldest surviving male in the Ojukwu family, said Agujiugo’s mother neglected all members of the family since his death, adding that she has since remained very far from them without any information: “At a stage, we learnt that she was planning for the burial and we asked her why she would bury the dead without police conclusion of investigations but she told us that the police had given her authority paper for the burial. We told her that we were not satisfied and demanded to see that authority paper, which she eventually produced.
“We waited for her for three weeks before she surfaced again and presented that coroner’s form to bury signed by the Divisional Police Officer from Nnobi. But the paper looked like a forged document.
“We want the burial to be put on hold until the circumstances surrounding Agujiugo’s murder are unravelled. There are so many unanswered questions surrounding his killing and nobody has been questioned by the police about the incident.”
When the reporter met with Lolo Ngozi Ojukwu over the allegations by the family members, she said those accusing her of any complicity in Agujiugo’s murder and burial are actually crying more than the bereaved, a sign that they might know what others may not know.
She said: “I am a mother and I know how painful it could be to lose a son, a first son for that matter, someone who means the world to you. Everybody who cares to know knew how Igwe Akum Ojukwu died at Borromeo Hospital, Onitsha, after suffering a stroke and heart failure.
“Since then, strange forces took over my son, Agujiugo. He was being manipulated from many sides to the extent that he began experimenting with drugs. He sold most of his father’s property for peanuts. Some of them accusing me now benefitted from such situation. The land in question, whose fence they noted I came to demolish, was one of such properties he gave to them at a give-away price without my consent and without his siblings’ knowledge.
“It pains me to say this but I know that God in heaven knows everything and the truth. I am the one mourning my son’s death and bearing the brunt of the whole issue. They don’t ask me anything and when I approach them, they still make things difficult for me. We only planned to bury him because the whole expenses are on the immediate family’s shoulders. The police said that investigation would still continue even after the burial but with the way things are going now, the burial cannot hold.”
Police public relations officer in Anambra State, Haruna Muhammed, refused to confirm the authenticity of the authority letter issued to the family to bury the deceased. He said the extended Ojukwu family should write a formal petition to the command, if they suspected any foul play in the matter.
At the time of this report, the burial had been put on hold while the families had been invited to police headquarters for interviews.