NSUKKA----The mother of the 20 -year-old Charity Ngozi Eze, who was allegedly raped and murdered at Imufu, Igbo-Eze North Local Government Area of Enugu State, March last year has cried out for justice over the matter.
The mother of the deceased, Mrs Juliet Exe, who spoke to reporters shortly after the burial of the tape victim said that the police muddled up the matter and kept her daughter's corpse for 17 months before allowing autopsy to be conducted to ascertain the cause of her death.
The late Ngozi who was born in March 1999, was living with her parents at Abuja but relocated to her village in Imufu to enable her attend extramural classes for last year's Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examinations, UTME.
It was said that Ngozi's father, Jonathan took his daughter to the Township Primary School 1, Ogrute in the morning of March 26, 2019, on his motorcycle for the extramural studies as he usually did on daily basis and she did not come back alive. Jonathan went back in the evening to pick her daughter from the same school in the evening but did not find her.
Her half naked body was found in the morning of March 27, by early risers in a bush behind the Community Secondary School, Imufu where she was allegedly raped and murdered by her suspected assailants.
However, narrating her experiences, her mother, Mrs Juliet Eze, said she was some of the suspects arrested in connection with the murder of her daughter were now walking the streets free due the shoddy job done by the police in Enugu.
Mrs Eze said she used to sell Okpa, a local food which is popular, especially among students and other easterners, because of its ability to stay long in the system before digestion at Abuja, before her daughter's untimely death.
According to her, it has not been easy providing for the family since her daughter died as she now resides in the village with her family with no means of livelihood at home. She further said that she had not been sleeping well since her daughter's untimely death.
Her words, "Three suspects were arrested in connection with my daughter's rape and eventual murder. However, when they were released by the police, neither me, my husband nor the community stakeholders were aware.
"I heard about their release from police custody as a rumour until I met one of the suspects the day I was going to the market to buy food stuff for the family. That day, my heart was broken. They were even threatening that we cannot do anything to them. Police did shoddy investigations maybe because we could not afford to pay them owing to our poor financial standing. Our community assisted us, contributed money which we gave the police to do their job.
"I want the suspects to be rearrested and killed just as they killed my daughter. I want the government to follow up this case and secure justice for my dead child.
"I was selling 'okpa' at Abuja before this incident happened last year. Since then I have been in the village. Feeding is even a problem for my family now because my husband is equally poor. We have been working hard to feed our children and give them the best possible education we can afford and I had hoped on Ngozi because she worked hard and had told me she wanted to study nursing at the university. I have not been sleeping since my daughter's life was snuffed out in her prime. Sometimes, I will wake up by 1 am, sit up and cry in the middle of the night."
Chief Emeka Mamah, who also spoke on behalf of the family said police had named a suspect who the deceased turned down his marriage proposals and asked the community to arrest him for the police
"We cooperated with the police in providing information and other assistance but as we are talking, no police man visited the scene of that incident. It is a year and five months now and justice has not been served. Police were only interested in money.
"Why she has not been buried since then was because they demanded money for Corona Inquest Form which is normally issued free of charge.
"We used our neighbourhood watch personnel to arrest one of the suspects at Onitsha, Anambra State and took him to Fegge Police Station as directed by the police in Enugu. Later we also hired a bus for the police to travel to Onitsha to ferry the suspect from Onitsha to Enugu as well as provided welfare for those who went on the trip. We paid for the tracking of the suspects.
'At a point, one of the suspects was in Nasarawa but that was where it stopped. They didn't do any serious work. It was the new state Commissioner of police who gave order before we got the inquest form. We still contributed over N300,000 to pay for autopsy because, left for the police, we would not have buried the girl today. 'The autopsy was conducted on Saturday, July 25, 2020, following approval by the new state Police Commissioner, Ahmad Abdulraham, who said he was not informed about the incident when he took over from his predecessor. At a point, we wrote a petition to the Police Headquarters in Abuja over the issue, but there was no response from the force headquarters. They didn't even acknowledge receipt of the petition. We made personal contact with the Police Force Public Relations Officer, DCP Frank Mba that paved the way for the burial today.
"We should pray not to find ourselves in trouble because nobody will do any investigation.
"It was really the intervention of the Police Force ourselves into trouble because nobody will investigate anything. We are very angry because the suspects have not been arrested.The then local government chairman and even the state government did not even bother to come to the aid of the parents of the deceased. If it were in states like Lagos, when someone is killed unjustly like this, the State will take over the matter till it is concluded," Mamah said.
Earlier, during the requiem mass for the deceased, the Parish Priest of St. Joseph's Catholic Parish, Imufu, Rev. Fr. Rufus Achinike, while urging the congregation to see love as watchword in all their endeavours.
Achinike said evil continues to be on the rise in our clime due to greed and get-rich-quick syndrome in our society.
Regretting the ordeals of the community's stateholders in the hands of Nigerian Police Force in the process of the investigation of the rape case and eventual release of the corpse, Achinike said the 'Nigeria Police is an apology,' adding that police officers must repent from their back-door deals to save themselves and their generation from curses.
He prayed for the repose of the soul of the deceased just as urged the congregation to embrace righteousness as the only way to salvation, urging the killers of Miss Eze to repent to avoid the wrath of God on the day of judgement.
This was even as no fewer than 230 youths of the community, had escorted the body of the deceased from the General Hospital, Ogrute morgue to St. Joseph's Catholic Church during which they all dressed in black mournful outfits.
One of the youths, Oliver Onu, also told reporters that they were pained by the ugly incident, asking the authorities to do the needful by bringing the suspects to justice.