By Chidi Nkwopara
Saturday, May 16, 2009, will remain indelible in the minds of the family of Mr. and Mrs. Charles Iwuagwu of Umuomu,Â Â in Mbaitoli local government area of Imo State.
They woke up normally, said their early morning family prayers, preparatory to starting the days business. None of them had any inkling that their 18months baby would be murdered that day.
It sadly turned out to be the day their 18-month old baby girl, Miss Chimuanya Iwuagwu, was murdered in cold by 28-year old Uchenna Sebastian Uhegbu.
Investigations carried out by our Correspondent revealed that little Chimuanya had accompanied an elder female relationÂ Â who was asked toÂ Â empty household refuse in a nearby bush.
It was also gathered that Uhuegbu, a native of the nearby Umudimonu, Odunmara, Obi-Orodo, met the duo on their way to dispose the refuse.
It was also gathered that he requested that the little girl l be left with him while the older girl went into the bush to empty the trash can. The poor girl thought at the time that the man was only trying to be friendly, possibly protective of the little girl.
But Uhuegbu obviously had a hidden agenda. Within a few minutes of taking custody of the little girl, he disappeared into the thin air with little Chimuanya. Apparently unable to locate the duo, the older girl raised alarm. A crowd of sympathizers quickly gathered and a search party was commissioned to scout for the missing Chimuanya and her kidnapper.
The bizarre developmentÂ was quickly brought to the knowledge of the traditional ruler, Eze Samuel Agunwa Ohiri. The royal father, who also spoke on the sordid event, explained that on receipt of the sad news, he ordered the local vigilante organization and youths to barricade all entry and exit points in the community. He also ordered that all the nearby bushes should be thoroughly combed by the search parties that were horridly put together.
â€œIt was this concerted effort byÂ Â that eventually led to the arrest of the fleeing Uchenna Uhuegbu. He was promptly handed over to the police after our initial interrogationâ€, the royal father recounted with grief.
Eze Ohiri further explained that the initial interrogation was not smooth as the suspect naturally denied knowing anything about the missing girlâ€™s where about. Uhuegbu similarly denied abducting the girl.
However, Vanguard gathered that when â€˜subtleâ€™ pressure was applied, the suspect started singing like a bird. He then admitted tricking the elder girl, as well as abducting the little girl, and blamed his conduct on his the needÂ to raise N.3 million.
When the suspect was assured that he would be given the said amount, he then admitted that he knew where little Chimuanya was but was not guaranteeing that she was alive.
The immediate members of the missing girlâ€™s family, as well as other villagers were more interested in locating the girl and it took a little persuasion before Uhuegbu led the long trek to the site where he dumped the lifeless body of Chimuanya!
The sight was bizarre and awful. The suspect had carefully strangledÂ Â the innocent little girl, forced her remains into a Ghana-must-go bag and dumped the bag in a bush. This was where he expected the murdered baby to stay and rot without trace but he misfired.
The royal father could not confirm or deny that any part of the little girlâ€™s body was missing. Eze Ohiri however appealed to parents to be security conscious at all times, especially over the welfare of their children.
The suspect had some stories to tell. It not matter to him that the story he was telling had no meaningful bearing to his sordid act. He claimed to be a business man based in Abidjan, Cote Dâ€™Ivoire. He also claimed that he sells second hand clothing, and had been doing this business in that West African country for seven years.
On why he decided to eliminate the poor girl in cold blood, Uhuegbu said he suspected the voice that prodded him to kill Chimuanya to be that of an invisible female relation of his victim but stopped short of mentioning the personâ€™s name. He only explained that the damnable act killing the small girl was to be a prelude to their proposed marriage.
Uhuegbu, who was made to cuddle the little girl he murdered, when Vanguard visited the State Police Command Headquarters, Owerri, denied having carnal knowledge of his victim before she was strangled . This denial goes to no issue.
Some villagers, who spoke to Vanguard on strict grounds of anonymity recalledÂ Â that earlier on the faithful day, the man had inflicted severe injuries on his father, Mr. Bernard Uhuegbu, for failing to part with N5,000, which his son demanded.
Vanguard also gathered that the suspectâ€™s father, a wood sawyer, recently sold a piece of land andÂ gaveÂ the entire proceeds to his son in an effort to help him set up an honest business enterprise. He allegedly played the biblical prodigal son and blew the opportunity.
It was not possible to speak to the late girlâ€™s father, as he was very devastated to comment on the evil that befell his family. If Charles Iwuagwu was strong, even in his grief, his wifeâ€™s disposition was simply worse. She could hardly control her tears and remained inconsolable.
The Police PublicÂ Relations Officer (PPRO) of Imo State Police Command, Mr. Linus Nwaiwu, an assistant superintendent of police (ASP), confirmed the arrest of Uhuegbu, adding that police investigation into the murder was already in top gear.
He had in an earlier press statement described the suspect as â€œa super rapistâ€, adding that the little girlâ€™s remains has been deposited at the Federal Medical Centre, Owerri, morgue and is awaiting post mortem examination.
Only police investigation will reveal if Uhuegbuâ€™s real intention is to undo the girlâ€™s parents, even when there was nothing to show that anything was the matter between the two families.
It is also expected that the police investigation will reveal if the girl was killed for ritual purposes or any other intention.