By Evelyn Usman
A 29- year-old man, Kingsley Ekeret, is currently cooling his heels at the Homicide section of the Rivers State Criminal Investigations Department, SCID, for allegedly beating his seven- year-old daughter to death, for eating his plate of rice.
The suspect, a commercial bus driver who hails from Nto Osung community in Ikot Ekpene LGA of Akwa -Ibom state was saddled with the responsibility of catering for his three children alone, after his wife reportedly abandoned them.
He returned home at about 7pm on April 12, 2014, hungry and went for the pot of rice he had prepared before leaving for work only to meet an empty pot. Report said he angrily charged at Favour and unleashed his beastly tendencies on the innocent girl on discovering she was the one that ate the food.
Neighbours said that explanations by the ailing child that she shared the food with her siblings when they were hungry fell on deaf ears. Her health, as gathered, aggravated and unfortunately she died hours later.
Corpse kept in same room with siblings
Preliminary investigation, according to the command, revealed that on noticing the motionless state of his daughter, Kingsley placed her body at a corner of his one room apartment in Obeama, Oyigbo Local Government Area where his two other children of ages two and three respectively were sleeping. He, thereafter, wrapped the corpse in one of his clothes at the wee hours of the next day and armed with a shovel, he reportedly dug a shallow grave behind his apartment where he buried the remains of Favour and went about his normal business.
But the bubble burst after the caretaker of the building, one Ugwu, who noticed the unusual disappearance of Favour, demanded for her whereabouts from her father. Ekarete was said to have told the care-taker that his daughter took ill and was rushed to a hospital in Umuebulu community where she died. Curious Ugwu reportedly insisted on seeing the corpse, promising to assist in providing money to bury her, a request the suspect refused to oblige.
A resident who spoke on condition of anonymity told Saturday Vanguard that “ the caretaker informed a neighbour, one Pastor Emeka Onuoha, of Jesus Reigneth Ministry of the situation. While the accusations ensued, policemen attached to Afam Police division who were on patrol were flagged down by the Pastor, consequent upon which Kingsley was arrested and later transferred to the State Criminal Investigations Department.”
Suspect claims deceased was poisoned
In his statement to operatives of the Homicide section, Kingsley exonerated himself from the crime, giving rather different accounts as to how his daughter died. At first, he said: “ She died as a result of neglect by her mother. She left me to carter for my three children alone. I usually go out everyday to toil for what they will eat. She apparently died out of neglect.”
At other time, he said , “Maybe she was poisoned. You see, being poor, I deposited my telephone with a Hausa man that sells rice, with a promise to collect it back when I pay. It was the rice I prepared for them that morning ,without knowing it was poisoned.”
It was gathered that at a point, he became incoherent with his words. Efforts to get him take the operatives to where the remains of the child was buried failed at first as he reportedly claimed he buried her along the road, on his way back from the hospital. He further stated that he had deposited the body in a mortuary at a neighboring village. Urged to take them to the places, he turned around and claimed he has forgotten the exact place.
The truth about his alleged involvement was later unfolded when his parents visited him at the SCID. His father was said to have told operatives that Kingsley called him on the phone, informing him that he had mistakenly killed his daughter.
They`narrated his strange behaviour even towards the mother of his children who ran away from home to avoid his excesses. Kingsley’s father also narrated how his son had called him immediately after the murder.
When it became apparent that his game was up, he reluctantly took operatives and members of his family to the shallow grave he dug behind his apartment where part of Favour’s body was reportedly seen wrapped in a blue cloth. Efforts to reach mother of the children have reportedly seemed futile.
The Rivers State Commissioner of Police , Mr Tunde Ogunsaki, who described the act as a violation of the child’s right to survival and development as well as lack of parental care and protection said the suspect would need to go through psychiatric test apparently to ascertain his mental state before he would be charged to court. His assertion followed claims that Kingsley might be mentally deranged.