From OKEY SAMPSON, Aba
He won’t go scot-free, Army vows
This year’s Good Friday has come and gone but for the family of Mr. Okechukwu Ifedi of Ogidi in Idemili North Local Government Area of Anambra State, nothing was good about that Good Friday. It was for them, a most tragic Friday. It was on that day, April 6, that their only son, Chukwunonso Ifedi, 29, was killed in the most callous and crude manner.
Nonso, as he was fondly called, lived at 51, Hospital Road, Aba, Abia State, before he met his untimely death. After returning from the market on the evening of the said day, he prepared food, which he shared with his cousins. He then decided to go to the nearby Princess Hotel, situated at No. 81 of the same Hospital Road for a drink. He never returned home alive.
With tears running down his cheeks, Nonso’s dad, Mr. Ifedi, gave a gory account of how his only son was brutally killed by a heartless soldier.
Hear him: “It was on April 7 at about 6.00 am when I received a call. And when I picked up my phone, it was the voice of a lady, telling me to come to Hospital/Mosque Street, that my son, Nonso, was dead.
“At first, I couldn’t understand what she was talking about as my son was not sick. Nonetheless, I had to rush out immediately. On getting to the place, I called the lady, who had given me the information and she told me she would be with me in the next 30 minutes.
“Within that period, my phone rang and before I could pick it, I saw the lady and waved at her to come. When she came, I asked her to tell me exactly what happened since she had told me on phone that she witnessed how my son was killed.
“She told me that my son and others were drinking at Princess Hotel when someone in an army uniform, who rode to the place on a bike, came into the bar. She equally told me that when the soldier came in, he was staggering as he walked in and in the process, stepped on my son’s toes.
“My son demanded to know why his killer should step on him without the simple courtesy of apologising. The soldier was then said to have picked offence with my son for questioning him and retorted, ‘I don swim many rivers, swim ocean, na you?” Then with the above assertive words, Nonso’s journey of no return began just immediately. The sadist soldier reportedly locked the only entrance into the hotel. He then allegedly picked up a rod from a corner of the bar and scared people away before descending on Nonso.
The soldier (names withheld) is said to be serving at the Ngwa High School, Aba Forward Base (FOB) of the 14 Brigade of the Nigerian Army. He was said to have battered Nonso continuously with the rod for over 30 minutes until his victim became unconscious. People watched the torture of the deceased in awe from afar; nobody dared to venture close because they were afraid that the soldier had a gun on him. The manager of the hotel, whose name was simply given as Jaru, was said to have challenged him. And for that, the manager reportedly got a big cut on the head.
After beating the victim to stupor, the soldier allegedly left the hotel on the bike he came with and returned to his base at Ngwa High School. An eyewitness said Nonso did not die immediately. The girl, who gave her name as Chinenyenwa, said the soldier hit Nonso with the rod for more than 30 minutes. She said: “The atmosphere in the hotel was calm until the soldier entered. He immediately picked up a quarrel with Nonso and the next thing he did was to go for a rod, which was kept inside the bar. With it, he forced everyone except Nonso out of the bar but I did not go out like the others. I hid myself in an obscure place to be able to see what the soldier would do to the young man.
“From my position, I was able to see how for over 30 minutes the soldier subjected the deceased to a lot of punishment by beating him with the rod. At a point that the deceased became weak and could no longer talk or move any part of his body, the soldier searched Nonso’s pocket and collected some money with which he ordered for bottled water.“When the bottled water was brought to him, he poured it on the deceased. And when Nonso wanted to open his month, the soldier mockingly asked: ‘Aha! You wan drink water?’ He opened Nonso’s mouth and forced the bottle into it and left on his bike.
“When the soldier had gone, I beckoned to another man at the hotel to help me bring out Nonso from the gutter into which the soldier had him. It was in the process of doing this that the deceased told me that he was not sure he would survive the ordeal he went through in the hands of the soldier and gave me his father’ s phone number to contact him. And that was what I did.” Chinenyenwa said it would be easy to identify the assailant, stressing that she was ready to identify the soldier in the case of any identification parade. She also said one of those arrested by the police over the incident should be in a good position to identify the culprit.
“I will like the Army in Abia to do an identification parade and I will come and point at the soldier, who killed Nonso. But in the alternative, if they actually want to know who killed the young man, they should thoroughly interrogate a lady that was arrested by the police. She is the girlfriend of the manager of the hotel and a friend of the soldier too.” Chinenyenwa said.
Like the blood of Abel in the Bible that cried to God when he was killed, that of Nonso is equally protesting, said the sad dad.
“The night that my son was killed, I did not sleep and I couldn’t know why. I was restless, moving from one room to another. At a point, I became afraid,” he noted. The old man wondered why soldiers should continue to remain on the streets since they now turned their guns on defenceless citizens. “I thought that soldiers were drafted to Aba to stem the tide of violent crimes, including kidnapping. Why have they now become terror to the civilians they are supposed to protect? I learnt that the soldier said after killing my son that nothing would happen, but God is watching.”
When Daily Sun visited the area command of the Nigeria Police in Aba where those arrested in connection with the incident were first detained, the commander, Mr. Rabiu Dayi, was said to be out of the state on official assignment. However, a senior police officer, who did not want his name in print, confirmed the incident. He said the matter had been transferred to Umuahia for further investigations. On why the accused soldier was not arrested before the matter was transferred to Umuahia, the police officer said the suspect would be arrested after the state Commissioner of Police had discussed the matter with the Commander, 14 Brigade of the Nigerian Army at Ohafia, also in the state.
Commander, 14 Brigade of the Nigerian Army, Brigadier General Jibril Tanko Abubakar, admitted that the matter had been reported to him. Abubakar, who spoke through the Army Public Relations Officer (APRO), Lt. Olabisi Ayeni, however, said he was not sure if it was a soldier that was involved in the act.“The police are still investigating and their investigation will tell us what to do. If at the end of their investigation it is established that the person involved in that condemnable act was a soldier, we are going to deal with him in a military way,” he said.
“Such a thing should not be happening now that the Chief of Army Staff is trying to establish and sustain a cordial relationship with the civilian population in the country.”
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