By ANAYO OKOLI
… Arrest killer (s) of our son
WHO killed our brother, Mr. Anthony Onwuebuibo Ukatta? This is the question on the lips of the entire Amizi people of Awomnuzie Autonomous community in Ikwuano Local Government area of Abia State.
Andrew Ukatta,58,was killed on January 10, in his farm by unknown persons. His death, being the first of its kind, threw the whole community into mourning because they said that he was a very good man. He was killed in his farm and his battered body was found the following day by a search team raised by the community on account of alarm raised by the family after he did not return from his day’s farm work.
The nature of his death was seen by the community as an abomination as it has never happened before. His brutal murder has therefore thrown the entire community into great fear. The people no longer go to farm unless in groups for fear of being attacked.
But the people believe that Ukatta’s killers could be the handiwork of some unscrupulous members of the community. Though they have not accused any person,but the entire community believes that no proper investigation was yet carried out by the relevant security agencies to unravel the killing.
In anger and perhaps, to allow the police in Abia Command where Ukatta’s murder was reported, do its work, the community delayed his burial. But five months after his murder, Abia police were yet to do anything meaningful in the area of investigation,and the community decided to bury their brother. But they have handed over the matter to the Inspector General of Police to detail a crack team of investigators to unravel who killed Andrew Ukatta.
Andrew Ukatta was buried last Saturday with calls by the leadership of the community, comprising the leaders of the town union both at home and in diaspora, the youths and the church for proper investigation into his death as well as to prevent such occurrence in future. The youths in their own effort had in a February 25, 2013, petitioned the Director of Department of State Security, Abia State Command, notified the command of what they termed “insecurity of lives and property in Amizi”.
Amizi Youth Movement [AYM] in the petition signed by Roland Uzoanya said, “we are no longer safe in our home town, which has led to the murder of one Mr. Andrew Ukatta on the 10th of January, 2013 and we are crying out to law enforcement agencies to, as a matter of urgency, come to the rescue of our community.”
The petition also frowned at the manner the traditional ruler had handled the matter, alleging that he has not shown serious interest to ensure proper investigation into the killing, even when every taxable adult in the community was levied N300 to ensure proper investigation.
On the burial day, the youths demonstrated their anger over the death of their brother. From the morgue they carried the remains of Ukatta in protest and went round the entire community, praying that God and their forefathers should ensure that killers of Andrew were found.
The most pathetic scene was when an elderly man about 80 years(fromthe Ukatta maternal father), knelt beside the casket and almost in tears called on God and his ancestors to bring to book those who killed Ukatta.
Clad in all black attire, the youths recounted the good services late Ukatta rendered to the community as well as his uprightness,and prayed for proper investigation by the police to fish out the perpetrators of the heinous crime. The community’s major market was closed to enable all Amizi people pay the last respect to late Ukatta. The whole Amizi indigenes that were around for the burial were also all in black outfit with the inscription “he was murdered” to show their anger over his death.
According to Mr. Sam Ekpo, the President General of Amizi Development Union [ADU], the murder of late Ukatta was a tragedy to the community hence the anger of the youths and every other Amizi person. He regretted that despite the fact that the murder was properly reported to the police in the Abia State Command, proper investigation was not carried out on the death of this man.
“The issue is that at least I am 64 years old and since I was born, I have never heard of a situation whereby an Amizi indigene was murdered. This is the first time this happened. So, it was very strange in our community and that is why the youths are really bitter. Secondly, it appeared that there wasn’t any proper follow-up, proper investigation on what happened. They have waited for long and nothing seems to be coming out. Basically,that is why they are protesting.”
On whether the matter was properly reported to the police, Ekpo said, “I think it was because the police followed them in picking up the corpse from the bush where he was murdered. So, it was properly reported to the police. Today has been declared as a fasting and mourning day in our community. That shows you how bad we feel about his death. Markets were closed from 11am to enable the people attend the church service for him,” the ADU president said.
The Lagos State branch leader of the town union, Chief Patrick Ndimele, in his comment said the way the issue was handled is very painful. “The community is calling on the Inspector General of Police to conduct proper investigation into how this man was killed. People can’t go to the farm alone. We want this murder to be unraveled,” Ndimele said. The leader of the youth, Comrade Peter Ezegbe Chinyere lamented the death of Ukatta and prayed that his killers would be found.
The church was not left out as the Parish Priest of the community, Rev Father Damien Okoye described the death of Ukatta as “very painful”.