By Emma Nnadozie, Crime Editor
She spoke as if she was in a trance.Â To her, the whole idea of narrating a bizarre incident that took place on the 14th of February, 2009 was still like a dream.Â This is, in spite of her personal tribulations and loss of her five months pregnancy in the most painful and pathetic way. Worse still, the dream which claimed her only happiness on earth should better remain what she imagined it should beâ€” a nightmare.Â
Unfortunately, it is beginning to dawn on the 35~year~old peasant farmer, Bernadette Nwaeke from Umudurumbu, Umuezeobolo village in Amaigbo, Nwangele Local Government Area of Imo State that her heartthrob and father of her twochildren, Felix Eberechukwu Nwaeke (52) may have gone for ever and in a most gruesome manner.Â But the skepticism still lingers, what!, with the failure of those that caused her sorrow to bring back her husbandâ€˜s body for a decent burial.
She said she could still not fathom why her family had to bear the brunt of the incident that has nothing to do with them personally.Â The injustice done to her family would only be addressed after those that killed her husband releases the body for burial and pay due compensation for the trauma she was forced to pass through.Â That is, if the present attempt and threats on her life could be checked.Â She spoke about her tribulations from a hideout where she claimed she is taken refuge to avoid being eliminated by those that killed her husband.
â€œOn the 14th of February, 2009, I and my husband were sleeping and we heard people breaking the door.Â We were jolted to the bone marrows by the very heavy bang on the door of our house.Â In fact, we thought armed robbers were on rampage.
The bang forced the door open and a group of armed men rushed into the house immediately.Â Â Upon gaining entry into the house, they immediately dragged me out of the bed, stripped me naked and forcibly threw me into one of their waiting vans.
Immediately they finished with me, the remaining group of people whom I identified as people from a neighboring village, Umuezike Ofeahia and thirteen armed police men said to have come from State Criminal Investigations Department (SCID), Owerri,Â went back into our house.Â Â From their vantage position, they started releasing volleys of bullets into our bedroom.Â They pumped a total of nineteen bullets into the body of my husband and he died there and then.
â€œNot done yet, they dragged his dead body into their second van.Â Then they came to me and ordered that I should lie down on my back, facing the roof of the car.Â After obeying them, their leader placed his two legs on my stomach despite my pleas that I was three months pregnant.Â They thereafter drove us to their village square where a large crowd were gathered and on seeing the corpse of my husband, they started jubilating.
â€œFrom the village square, the assailants and their police associates drove us to the Divisional Police Station at Umuanu Amaigbo and after that, we were taken to Police Headquarters in Owerri .Â That was the last I saw the body of my dear husbandâ€
â€œBefore this incident, one secondary school girl from our village, Umuezeobolo claimed that a boy from Umuezike Ofeahia, where my assailants came fromÂ rapedÂ her while she was on her way to school and she ran home and inform ed her family.
They mobilized some young boys to look for the boy who raped their daughter.Â They reportedly searched for the rapist in every nook and corner of the village without success.Â They therefore decided to continue the search at night.
â€œ So, around 9.30pm that night, they went to theÂ house of the suspect said to be very notorious for raping bothÂ young and old women.Â Â They reportedly found him sleeping and they took him away.Â What I did not know was whether they actually kill ed him or not but what I heard was that when they took him out of his house, the boy started shouting that they have killed him and immediately, the boys that went for him disappeared.
â€œThe boy`s family rushed him to the hospital and the doctor said his injury was very bad and the boy would not survive and he eventually died along the line. No one from our village knew what happened that night except the youths that went there.Â When they heard that the boy did not survive, they all fled from our villageâ€.
â€œWhile at the State CID, I was left naked on the bare floor of their cell.Â It was only a woman that took pity on me and gave me a cloth to cover my body.Â A few hours later, I started bleeding.Â The Police did not only refuse to even record my statement but vehemently refused to permit me to receive any medical attention.
It was the alarm raised by other detainees that compelled the Police to allow me receive medical treatment and that was after three days when my condition had deteriorated so badly that I collapsed.Â Â Â This was long after the three~months pregnancy had been aborted inside the cold, dingy cell.
â€œTo cover up their outrageous murder of my innocent husband and the cruel unlawful detention and torture meted on me, they arraigned me in court on thrumped-up charges of obstructing police from carrying out their lawful duties.Â Â When the Police could not adduce any iota of evidence to substantiate their frivolous charge, the trial magistrate who also listened to my pathetic plight, threw out the case and discharged me.
â€œAfter I was discharged, we reported the case at zone 9 but the police could not do anything.Â My husband`s assailants were freely walking the streets.Â The policemen who killed my husband fled from the zone when the truth was discovered.
While this ding~dong affair was going on, my husband`s assailants invaded our village again with the Police and arrested fourÂ persons.Â They spent three weeks in Police cell before they were granted bail after paying various sums of money. The next thing they did was to intimidate members of our village by forcing them to withdraw the case we reported at Zone 9.Â When they saw that I will never be intimidated, they now resorted to threatening my life.Â That was why I fled from the village.
I am now living as a refugee while the corpse of my dear husband has not been seen for burial.Â My plea is for the authorities to prevail on the Police to release my husband`s corpse so that I could, at least, accord him a befitting burial.Â Other things will follow laterâ€