By Nwabueze Okonkwo
ONITSHA – For the family of missing Professor John Onyeka, a University don and former Deputy Vice-Chancellor of University of Jos, Plateau State and a native of Inyaba village, Umudim quarters, Nnewi, Anambra State, the sudden disappearance of their noble son 10 years ago still remains a mystery.
For them, if there is any thing they could do to get a clue of his whereabouts, they would have done it at all costs but to intensify the search for him, the family has announced the placement of N5 million handsome reward for any informant who has a clues to his whereabout.
As for his 90-year old mother, Mrs. Eunice Onyeka, life is still full of anxiety and unending expectations. If not for her unshakable Christian backgrou-nd, the nonagerian mother of seven would have waved goodbye to all the worries of this earth going by what she has passed through in the last 10 years since her first son, John disappeared mysteriously, precisely on August 18, 2006.
Born in 1948, Johnie was the first son of Godson and Eunice Onyeka from Inyaba village, Umudim, Nnewi, but he lived most of his productive years in the university town of Nsukka.
He went to school partly at Nsukka and London for his junior fellowship and also lectured briefly at the University of Nigeria Nsukka, UNN before transferring his services to University of Jos, UNIJOS where he rose to the rank of Deputy Vice Chancellor, DVC (Academic).
He got married to Ethel Ada Onyeka nee Anazodo and they had three children. As at the time he went missing on August 18, 2006, he lived alone in Jos with a cook while his wife, Ethel and their only daughter, Uju lived in Abuja. His two sons were in the university but lived off campus.
According to family sources, Prof. Johnie was billed to travel to Makurdi on Saturday, August 19, 2006 with his friend now, a top shot in the National Human Rights Commission, NHRC, Abuja, supposedly to collect money for some contract job they executed with the Benue State University.
Service of songs
But he was last seen on the evening of Friday, August 18, 2006 during a service of songs in honour of the wife of a staff of Unijos which he attended till the end of the service at about 9pm when he was said to have left for home.
From the next morning, August 19, 2006 when he supposedly travelled to Makurdi for the business trip till date, both his family members, the UNIJOS authorities or friends and associates could no longer trace his whereabout.
His aged mother, Eunice is lamenting that Ethel and her children teamed up and are seeking the arrest of Okonobi, her husband’s brother for what they termed the criminal selling of Johnie’s property and non accountability of rents collected from the properties by Okonobi and his other brothers.
In other words, the aged Mama Eunice is not only crying that her first son, Johnie is missing but that Johnie’s wife and children are in a supremacy battle with Johnie’s brothers over his properties.
In an encounter with S’East Voice, Mama Eunice who spoke as a woman of faith, expressed the hope that her son will eventually return home one day before her death to shame the devil and also straighten all sorts of negative noises generated in the family presently.
According to her, “With signs of age telling on me, I sometimes stare into space in anticipation that one day, my child will return home while I am still alive because I know the pains of childbirth and pains of loosing such a child in mysterious circumstance.
“Johnie Onyeka is my son. I bore him in Nsukka and raised him therein. Ethel is his wife though it was his father that first made the move for her marriage. It got to a stage that my spirit began to talk to me that all is not well. That was when they started telling me that my son was missing. Even till now, I’m yet to come to the reality of the situation but I know that the fellow wives married into the family sent message to Ethel to come and explain to them the situation that led to the disappearance of John but she hasn’t come.
“Our family, kindred and even Igwe Nnewi palace have all sent for her but to no avail. My husband’s health began to fail and he kept on hammering where is John? . All that is happening now makes me very sad but I’m waiting on My Jesus to do something about this situation.” I know the story of Joseph in the bible who was sold into slavery while his brothers lied to Jacob their father that he had been killed by a wild beast but he later came back home. I’m waiting for John to come home and tell me what happened to him. It pains me that my husband died without setting eyes on John or any of his family members.
“I’ve also heard that all the children are now married but I’ve never set my eye on them neither was I officially informed. It is not in my power to curse anybody but I don’t think that somebody who intentionally deprived her mother-in-law the joy of enjoying her grandchildren and her son will be rewarded positively “she lamented.
While waiting, the family said they repeatedly summoned Johnie’s wife and children to come home so that they can form a united formidable force in the search for him but they failed to honour all invitations”.
In one of the letters made available to SEV, dated 21/05/08 and jointly signed by Okonobi, David, Christopher, Olisakwe, Charles and Eddie all of Onyeka family addressed to Chuboy and KC requesting for a meeting on 14/06/08, the family noted with concern “ that since the unfortunate incident of disappearance of Prof Johnie Onyeka, you the children of Johnie and the large Onyeka family have not been able to have a formal meeting to share our views and ideas as to the way forward. The disappearance of your father for nearly two years now is an open wound on our hearts and we look forward to seeing you on the said date.
Another letter signed by the Palace Secretary of the Obi Ezenwolie family of Inyaba Umudim Nnewi dated 10thAugust 2008 also invited Johnie’s children to “a serious prayer meeting taking place on August 28 and 29, 2008 at the Obi Ezenwolie palace for the missing Prof John Onyeka”, but the children shunned all the invitations and after waiting for so long, Pa Godson Onyeka finally answered the call of nature and died in 2010, four years after Johnie got missing. The burial and funeral ceremony eventually took place without Johnie’s wife and children showing face or participating in the funeral”.
The family alleged that recently, Chuboy Onyeka (Johnies’s first son) through his lawyers wrote to the tenants at Onuiyi, Nsukka, a house said to have been bequeathed to Johnie by his late father in his will which has been managed by Okonobi, Johnie’s younger brother since their father’s demise.
The lawyer on behalf of Chuboy told the tenants to stop further payments to Okonobi since the house has been willed to Johnie who is now late/missing , that they should revert to paying Chuboy who is now assumed to be the rightful owner of the property by inheritance.