By Emma Nnadozie
The circumstances surrounding the gruesome murder of Tony Eze, a 39-year-old International businessman based in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory, have been unravelled by detectives attached to the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, Force Headquarters, Abuja. The late Eze, from Umuagede village in Nsukka L.G.A. of Enugu State met his untimely death after a night out with friends, including a kinsman from Eha-Alumonah in Enugu State (name withheld).
Eyewitness account said he was shot dead by two young men on a motor bike who closed in on him while he was trying to avoid a porthole, just a few meters away from the refreshment garden at Tungama area of Zuba in the outskirts of Abuja. He had gone to the garden for conviviality with friends. It was learnt that on the fateful day, November 6, 2014, the father of two was about closing for the day’s business when his kinsman and best friend called to request that they go out for drinks at Zuba. He was said to have initially hesitated before reluctantly agreeing to be at the refreshment garden in the evening.
IN THE LIONS’S DEN
He reportedly left his shop about 5pm and got to the garden where he met three of his friends already seated and enjoying drinks. Crime Guard gathered that about 7:20pm, they all set to leave, moving in a convoy, with his best friend and kinsman driving the car in front. Eze was the last to join before he was blocked and shot dead inside his car.
SYNPATHIZERS ARRIVE SCENE OF DEATH
After the owner of the garden and other sympathizers gathered at the scene, his friends reportedly drove back claiming that they heard a bang at their back but thought that Eze must have hit something and that was why they continued without him.
Reports said that even after the arrival of his friends at the scene, no serious efforts were made to either take him to the hospital or contact the police at Zuba. Policemen arrived the scene around 11pm and all efforts made to revive Eze in the hospital failed. One of the doctors was said to have reprimanded his friends for not rushing him to the nearest hospital immediately they arrived the scene, saying that he could have survived the gun shots if he had been given immediate medical attention.
SARS AND PRIVATE EYE TO THE RESCUE
Nevertheless, it was gathered that police detectives of SARS swung into action after it was noticed that the police at Zuba were lukewarm over the ugly incident. Police sources said their efforts were complemented by those of a Lagos-based private detectives hired by members of the family of the deceased. According to the source: ‘’While we were combing all the nook and cranny of Abuja for clues, the private detectives were busy spreading dragnets all over the country and even beyond, where the deceased had business partners.
BREAKTHROUGH AT LAST
“A startling breakthrough came few weeks back after the private detectives succeeded in arresting a suspect in possession of the phone of the deceased which was the only item his assailants disappeared with after the incident. The suspect turned out to be in the same Aluminium Market where late Eze had his shop. We drilled him for long hours until he capitulated and started confessing how they killed the innocent young man.”
According to him, two people came to engage their services for the job in their cult group. He gave a detailed description of them and one of the descriptions tallied with that of the late businessman’s best friend and kinsman who also had business in the same market with him. The suspect said that when they asked those that came to hire them why they wanted the man dead, they said he had been importing goods from abroad and needed to be silenced. They were paid N1.2million, some of them got N250,000 while others got N300,000 each.”
HOW OPERATION WAS EXECUTED
Giving a vivid account of how they carried out the operation on the day in question, the suspect said some of them arrived the restaurant earlier than the deceased and sat by a table near where he later sat with his best friend who hired them. ‘He said that as soon as they were ready to go, his friend winked at them at the nearby table and they used their telephone to flash their colleagues who were positioned outside the area as a signal that they should proceed to hit their target. He further said they were told that he would be coming in a car behind. So, his friend quickly drove off in front with the deceased following behind and when they got to the point where they had to join the expressway, the friend in front drove faster. As soon as his friend entered the expressway two of the hired killers blocked the businessman’s car and one of them just pulled out his gun, approached the driver’s side and yanked open the door. While Eze was passionately pleading with them to take whatever they needed and spare his life, the armed man shot him point blank, picked his phone and sped off.’’
Police sources also hinted that after the arrest of five of the suspects at the popular Aluminium Market, Abuja, his best friend confessed during interrogation that the deceased gave him N5million to exchange for him around October 2014, and he was yet to pay him back before he was killed. It was learnt that initially, he wanted to be smart by diverting the attention of detectives to focus their searchlight on one of the brothers to the deceased but when he learnt that one of the killers had confessed to the crime, he withdrew his allegation. Sources said detectives were still searching for the second person that hired the killers together with the best friend to the deceased and would soon arrest him.
Family sources told Crime Guard that the arrest of their son’s supposed best friend over his death sent shock waves all over the community. According to a member of the family who simply identified himself as Simon( 45) : ‘’ This is the greatest shock we have received in our area in recent times. That suspect is well known to all of us as Tony’s best friend. They used to travel together to China on business trips. In fact, he was closer to our brother than anybody in the family. Whenever we needed to advise our brother, we usually channelled it through this his friend who happens to come from Eha-Alumonah Community, a neighbouring town in Nsukka. Interestingly, this his friend was leading pallbearers during Tony’s burial. He was the first to arrive our compound before other of his friends and business partners arrived. He was shedding tears uncontrollably. Even after the burial, his wife prepared our traditional food for the bereaved family which friends usually partake in. I can remember vividly that a few days after Tony’s burial, the suspect told some members of our family that he (the deceased) owed some business associates a whooping sum of N12 million and there was urgent need to settle the debt but we swept it aside by telling him that it could come up after the mourning period. I will use this opportunity to thank the Nigeria Police Force and the private detectives for the success recorded so far because these startling confessions and arrests will go a long way to assuage our deep feeling of loss. (In tears) Now see, for how much did they take the precious life of this young, amiable, promising and easy-going young man? Who will train his children and take care of his young wife?
Crime Guard further gathered that detectives were working on the theory that his best friend was envious of his progress and the boom in his business and hatched the plan not just to eliminate him but also to stop him from asking for the whooping N5million he gave him to change last October. So far, it was learnt that both the suspect that confessed to the killing and the deceased best friend were taken separately to the scene of the crime and they pointed out correctly the table where they sat and the point where Eze was intercepted and killed.
POLICE AUTHORITIES INTERVENE
Meanwhile, it was learnt that on hearing the progress recorded in the case, police authorities have directed that no stone should be left unturned in rounding up all those remotely or otherwise connected with the assassination of the young and promising businessman and they should be charged to court for murder accordingly.