Residents of Umuchiakuma in Arochukwu Local Government Area of Abia were treated to an unusual tragic spectacle on January 4, 2018 when an Abuja-based society lady stormed the village with policemen and allegedly ordered the Policemen to open fire on youths who blocked her way.
Monica Ota Uche, an indigene of Umuchiakuma based in Abuja, is notorious for acts of criminality, including assaults and unlawful use of police escorts, whenever she visited the community.
On that day she ordered her police escorts to shoot Chimezie Anyaoha, a 35-year old engineer who had come home for a family wedding, for blocking her way.
More than one year after, she has used her connections at the nation’s capital to stop the police from filing murder charges against her. Now the family of the deceased are crying for justice.
THE WHISTLER traced Pastor Simon Anyaoha, father of the deceased engineer, to his residence at Umuchiakuma, Arochukwu local government where he expressed the family’s frustrations and their cries for justice.
Recounting the tragedy, Pastor Anyaoha who is of the Watchman Catholic Charismatic Renewal Movement in Arochukwu, said Ms. Uche ordered the police to kill his son in cold blood and in the glare of other youths in the community.
It all started when youths of the community blocked Ms. Uche from using her police escorts to abduct a patient at the Mercy Catholic Hospital. The patient was earlier shot by the police at the community primary school playground on the orders of Ms. Uche for allegedly destroying one of the canopies she used for rentage in the village.
According to Pastor Anyaoha, the deceased had rushed to the hospital when he heard that a boy had been shot in the leg by some policemen brought into the village by Ms. Uche for allegedly destroying a canopy that belonged to her.
“My son had come to the village for the wedding of the youngest sister of his mother which was to take place on January 4, 2018. Around 9 on that day, he prepared and went to the primary school where the wedding was to take place. On getting there, he discovered that a boy that used to work with him was shot by mobile policemen brought into the village by Monica Ota,
“The youths of the community rushed the boy to Mercy Hospital. My son then joined others to visit the hospital to see how the boy was faring. But on getting there, the story was that this woman took mobile policemen to the hospital to forcefully whisk the boy away,
“But the youths of the community who have heard what happened and that Monica was planning to take the boy away to an unknown destination, they mobilized themselves to prevent the policemen from taking the boy out of the village. They blocked road leading out of the village. My son also joined them,
“This woman ordered the police to open fire on the boys again. Even when the boys started running after police started shooting, they were still pursued. The police pursued my son into the bush where he tried to take behind a house and shot him dead. The bullet fired at him came in from one side of his stomach and came out through the other side. He was dead before they got him to the hospital.”
After Pastor Anyaoha confirmed the death of his son at the hospital mortuary, he reported the incident to the Arochukwu Police Station where they took his statement and a police officer was asked to confirm the death at the hospital.
The Arochukwu police reported the matter to the Abia State Command in Umuahia and three officials of the State Criminal Investigation Department came to Umuchiakuma village for further investigations. The father of the deceased was also asked to accompany them back to the state command to make further statements.
Officials of the C.I.D came back to the village a second time to speak with eyewitnesses, including the traditional ruler of the village, Eze Henry O. Umachi, all of who confirmed how the deceased was shot by the police escort of Ms. Uche.
The family of the deceased rightly expected the police to file homicide charges in court against Ms. Uche and the policemen who did her bidding.
But two weeks after the C.I.D came to the village, Pastor Anyaoha went back to the state command at Umuahia to find out how the investigation was proceeding. But he and community leaders who accompanied him got the shock of their lives.
“Those handling the case told us that Monica Uche had come and taken the case file to Abuja,” Pastor Anyaoha stated, meaning the case had been transferred to Abuja.
But as if to confirm their suspicion that Ms. Uche had used her connections again to kill the case against her, she came to the village two days after with policemen around 1 a.m to ‘arrest’ about nine youths and whisked them to Abuja.
It was in Abuja that the story changed. Ms. Uche allegedly used her influence to turn the case against the deceased and other youths in the village who had protested her criminality.
By the time the police charged the case to court, the deceased and the nine youths arrested by Ms. Uche were charged with terrorism! Ms. Uche claimed the youths were shot because they were members of the proscribed Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB), a claim disputed by residents of Umuchiakuma.
A youth leader in the village, Kalu Agwu, who spoke to THE WHISTLER corroborated the account of the incident given by the father of the deceased and denied as false claims that those shot were members of IPOB.
“I was working at a building site when some youths in the village ran to me saying Engineer Chimezie had been shot by four policemen attached to Monica Ota Uche,” he said, adding that the youths were so enraged that they went and burnt down her house in the village.
Peter Kalu, another eyewitness who spoke to the reporter, claimed Ms. Uche ordered her police escort to shoot the youths who tried to block her from taking away a patient from the village hospital, stressing any story about IPOB is diversionary.
“Everyone knew what happened in our village, how policemen were ordered to shoot by Monica Uche, and they shot him dead for nothing. The story about IPOB is all lies,” he told THE WHISTLER.
When contacted, the Abia State Police Command said the case file had been transferred to Abuja and the Command would not make any comment. Ogbonna Geoffrey, spokesman of the Command said: “That case is no longer with us, it has been taken to Abuja so I cannot say anything on it,” he told THE WHISTLER on phone.
Some other eyewitnesses in the village who did not wish to be mentioned confirmed the murder, saying Ms. Uche is notorious for terrorizing residents of the community anytime she visited the village.
They claimed she is well-known in the community and beyond for audacious acts of criminality against people who cross her path and has often used her connections in Abuja to escape justice.
When contacted, the Abia State Police Command said the case was no longer in its custody. Spokesman of the Command, Ogbonna Geoffrey, “the case has been taken away from us so I cannot tell you anything about it.”
When THE WHISTLER reached out to Frank Mba, the Force Public Relations Officer, he also claimed ignorance of the case.
“The case happened before my appointment, so I don’t have any information to give you. But if I can get the details of the IPO and may be able to get the information you want,” Mba stated.
But when he was given the details of the case and the IPO, he stopped picking his calls and refused to respond to text messages.
Although the Umuchiakuma community has moved on with life since the incidence, the parents of the deceased are yet to recover from the shock of seeing the corpse of their eldest child riddled with bullets on a day they were supposed to celebrate.
“My wife now suffers from high blood pressure and we are always in and out of hospital while all family responsibilities have fallen on me because the boy that used to take care of us has been killed. I am retired and do only pastoral work now,” said Pastor Anyaoha.
“All we are asking is that justice be done. This is a country with a government and laws. We want those who killed our son to be brought to justice.”