By Chinyere Amalu &Â Â Ndahi Marama
Alfred Adikwu, principal of El-Kanemi College of Business Administration (ECOBA) Maiduguri, Borno State where Corps member Miss Grace Adei Uchang, 22, before she was raped to death served and Brig. General Maharazu Ismaila, director general of the scheme, are on a collision course over what led to the death of the female corps member.
Uchang servedÂ her fatherland as member of the(NYSC) at the El-Kanemi College of Business Administration (ECOBA) Maiduguri, Borno State. But on 26th September, she was allegedly raped to deathÂ by unknown person (s) near her residence at the Customs area Maiduguri, a popular place close to the head office of the late Boko Haramâ€™s sect leader, Mohammed Yusuf and his followers who also resided there, before it was demolished by the Military..
Meanwhile, a new twist has been added to the death, with Ismaila, last Thursday advising the public to wait for the autopsy result on the deceased.
Speaking to Saturday Vanguard on the update of the incident, which took place on 26th September 2009, through the Director of Public Relations Mr. Wahab Obomeile at the NYSC Headquarters Abuja, the Director-General also confirmed the death, describing it as â€œunfortunate incidentâ€. However, he said the public should wait for a new autopsy.
He wasÂ however reminded of what Adikwu said earlier on that Uchang was raped to death. But the DG through image maker said the principal did not tell the DG so when he visited the State. People should wait for the autopsy, he said.
Unfortunately for the ladyÂ the service was aÂ miserable way to go. On that Saturday 26th September, she was said to have left her room mates where they were all residing to a nearby petty trader to buy what she and herÂ Â room mates would eat for dinner.
Saturday Vanguard finding discovered that on that fateful day at about 6:30 pm when Grace left, there was a wind and rainstorm which lasted for about three hours, and because of that, there were high records of accident related cases as dust that usually occurs before the rain in the state, due to its natural terrain which is characterized by desert encroachment.
A lot of people outside their homes before the storm started that day, found it traumatising locating their houses, but unfortunately for the said for Grace, she ran into some disgruntled elements who raped her to death near her residence at the Customs area.
In February and March 1973, there were demonstrations, both peaceful and violent, at Nigeria â€˜s major universities over the National Youth Service Corps. Legislation establishing the corps requires all graduates of Nigerian universities (and later, all Nigerian graduates of any university) to serve for 12 months with pay at whatever type of civilian national service the government chooses.
Despite the opposition of Nigeriaâ€™s students, General Gowon the then Military president inaugurated the corps in June same year; all graduates under the age of 30 were expected to participate, even though, some graduates who have past this stipulated age mostly pays a visit to the states and Federal High Courts to false fully declare their ages even if they might have exceeded the 30 years of age, but just to see that they perform the one year mandatory service, which many sees it now as a liberty/ freedom to our young graduates.
Grace, Uchang who hailed from Calabar, Cross River state, holds a Bachelor of Education and Administration Degree from the University of Calabar, was posted to ECOBA Maiduguri for her primary assignment.
Principal of the school, Mr. AlfredÂ Adikwu said on that fateful day, the deceased left her residence to buy food stuffs within the surrounding precisely at aboutÂ 6:30 pm, only for her corpse to be discovered by the side of a nearby river around 8:00 to 9:00 pm same evening.
The Principal who immediately rushed to the scene of the incident when contacted said he saw the corpse of his late staff with a deep cut on her forehead and the trouser she was wearing almost removed, living her half naked.
He said â€œwe immediately rushed to the Gwange Police station and reported the matter, andÂ they promptly took the corpse to University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital for autopsy, (A post-mortem)â€. The post- mortem,Â according to investigation was carried out on Sunday the following day.
Adikwu said medical reports indicated that the late Miss Grace Uchang was physically assaulted and raped, thereby sustaining grievous injury, a situation he thought, might have resulted in her death, as there was no immediate medical attention.
But the NYSC is doubting the story. In fact, the Director General is on a collision with Adikwu.
On the cause of the death, he said, â€œall we know is that she was killed, but wether she was raped to death is what I cannot tell you because the autopsy result is not yet out.
â€œSo we are waiting for the result and the police is still investigating the cause of her death. Until then, there is nothing we can doâ€, added Obomeile.Â On the comment of the Principal, the Director said, â€œthe Principal who was quoted in the newspaper to have attributed her death to rape was with us when the DG visited. He did not tell us anything nor show us the autopsy result as claimed.
â€œYou see before you can say authoritatively that somebody was raped, you must provide the autopsy result, quoting the doctorâ€™ name who carried out the test and the date on which it was done. But all these were missing in the report. So we are still waiting for the autopsy and investigation resultâ€, he added.
Confirming the incident to journalists, the Police Public Relation Officer (PPRO), ASP Isa Azare said the Borno state Police Command under the leadership of the new Commissioner of Police, Ibrahim Abdu, received the information with deep shock even as he stressed that the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) is investigating the matter, so as to arrest the culprits and brought them to book.
But Director of Public Relations said the management of NYSC has no capacity to attach policemen to each Corps member but has always done the necessary thing, which â€œis to advise them to stay away from danger and avoid bad companies. But we always advise each corps member to be careful and avoid danger zones,â€ he went on.
The DGÂ who was in Maiduguri in connection with the incident met with the state Governor, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff, the Police Commissioner, Director, SSS and other security agencies, and was assured that investigations were in top gear, and very soon the perpetrators of the evil act would soon be brought to book.
Furthermore, the Secretary to the State Government Ambassador Baba Ahmed Jidda on behalf of the state government had on 4th October sponsored and conveyed the remains of the late NYSC member (Grace) to her Home town Obudu in Cross River for burial.
The state government also gave some money given out to the family.
Ambassador Jidda in the release told the family of the deceased that the government of Borno state and the entire people of the state were shocked with the gruesome murder of the corps member.
While commiserating with the family in his office, the Chief Scribe said security agencies are in top gear investigating the murder case with a view to tracking down the perpetrators.
Responding, the leaders of the delegation and the family of the deceased Mr. Charles Ade, thanked the government and the people of the state for their concern and for recognizing the gravity of the case, emphasizing that government should intensify efforts to fish out the culprits with a view to bring them to book.