Mathias Idoko is not a happy man right now. The 60-year-old native of Ogrute, Enugu-Ezike, in Igbo-Eze North Local Government Area of Enugu State, is mourning the violent death of his 39-year-old son, Festus Ali, who until his death eked out a living riding commercial motorcycle otherwise known as okada. He was murdered in cold blood about 10 p.m. on July 6 this year.
Before his untimely death, he was married with three children. His wife is heavy with pregnancy and is due to deliver in a matter of weeks. Festus would never set his eyes on the new baby because his supposed customer and friend brutally murdered him.
Narrating how he was killed, his father, Mathias, said: “My son was a commercial motorcyclist. He was married with three children and his wife (widow) is about eight months pregnant. We were told the man who murdered my son called him on phone to convey him home because they knew each other quite well. When he got there, the man, Ifeanyi Nwaurama, realising that it was too early in the night to carry out his evil intention, took him to a joint where they drank till late into the night before he asked my son to take him to his girlfriend’s house at Umu-Agama.
“While on his way to Umu-Agama, our kitchen went up in flames and his wife called him to inform him of the development, and that was the last conversation he had with us. After the trip to his killer’s girlfriend’s house, his killer asked him to take him to his house at Aji. My son didn’t suspect any danger; he didn’t know that Ifeanyi was hiding a hammer in a polythene bag inside his trousers pocket, covered by his shirt. So, as soon as he dropped him and turned his motorcycle to leave, Ifeanyi allegedly brought out the hammer and hit him on the head from behind. He screamed, fell down and died instantly, while Ifeanyi dragged the motorcycle to his house and his elder brother brought water and washed off blood stains splashed all over the motorcycle.
“He had actually succeeded in his evil act without anybody seeing him, but when he went back to the scene of the murder to take the body away from the road leading to his house, members of the Aji vigilance group saw and called him by his name. He ran away. His elder brother was arrested by the vigilance group while trying to remove the number plate of the motorcycle in order to replace it with another so that nobody would recognise it. He is currently in detention over the alleged murder. Ifeanyi is still on the run.”
However, the slain Festus’ mother, Christiana Ali, in her own account, said: “After the dinner, I had gone to bed when I heard people shouting. When I came out, it was my kitchen that was on fire. I told my son’s wife to call and inform him of what was happening. When she called him, he asked her if the incident was serious and she said yes. That was probably when he was coming out of Umu-Agama to go to Aji, because he told his wife that he would soon be home.
When we didn’t see him, I asked his wife to call him again, and when she dialled his number somebody answered the phone and said her husband was being held captive somewhere. The voice told his wife that it was not time for him to speak and that when it was time he would speak to the wife. When it was 1 a.m. we called the number again and they told us he had been kidnapped and demanded a ransom. When we asked where to deposit the money, the voice said they had killed him and asked us to go to Ugwu-Aji where his body had been dropped. When we got there, we saw his body and a hammer on his chest. It was then that some people who saw what happened told us how they wanted to catch the killer but could not before he escaped.
Information came later that his killer was at Igoro and before the search party could get to the place, he had disappeared. The body is still in the mortuary pending the outcome of investigation. The suspect’s elder brother is in detention while the police continue to hunt for him,” Christiana Ali said.
For his pregnant wife and mother of three, Obioma, it was wailing and wailing and wailing. She was inconsolable. She only managed to tell our reporter that the dreaded black curtain had fallen on her eight-year-old marriage when she least expected. “Who would train the three children plus the one in my womb.” She continued to mutter as tears streamed down her cheeks. If only tears could bring back the dead, Festus would have come back to life because of his wife’s tears. When asked to narrate what happened, she broke down, her body shaking in paroxysms of grief.
Sources said the alleged killer, Ifeanyi, who claimed to be a businessman based in Onitsha, Anambra State, has about 13 motorcycles he acquired by killing the owners and taking their motorcycles to Onitsha where he gave them to people to ride on commercial basis for daily returns to him. They alleged that he had been engaged in this evil for some time, but the killing of Festus finally exposed his source of wealth.
He is currently on the run, while the police are on his trail. His elder brother, who is now in detention, is also believed to be an accomplice in the evil act. He, it was who washed off stains of blood from the motorcycle when his brother took it home after killing Festus. He was also seen trying to remove the number plate and replace it with another so as to avoid detection when the Aji Vigilance group swooped on him.
When our reporter visited the family house of the suspects at Aji in Enugu-Ezike, the place was deserted.
Confirming the incident, Enugu State Police Public Relations Officer, Ebere Amaraizu, said investigation into the matter was ongoing. He said the police would get to the roots of the matter and prosecute whoever the culprits are.