By Vincent Ujumadu
TEARS flowed uncontrollably, weekend, at Abagana in Njikoka local government area of Anambra State as the community buried Mr. Ebele Nwochu, who died in detention after his arrest by the police in August last year.
Nwochu was arrested along with 23 others following the destruction of the Police post located on the disputed land between Abagana and Ukpo in Dunukofia local government area.
One person was killed and the Divisional Police Officer, DPO, for Dunukofia and three other policemen sustained injuries during an attack on the police formation. Some police vehicles were also torched, leading to the arrest of several people.
About 23 suspects, including Nwochu, who were arrested after the attack, were later charged to court, while the injured persons were treated in the hospital. To the surprise of Abagana people, Nwochu died in detention under controversial circumstances at a time his people were making efforts to secure bail for them. Thereafter, Abagana community fixed date for the burial, which attracted a who-is-who in the area.
As early as 8.00am, the entire community, including men, women and youths, wearing black dresses, converged at the Oyeagu Abagana market and chanted funeral and war songs. They wailed and sobbed and for about two hours, traffic on the Awka – Onitsha road was at a standstill as the mourners accompanied the brown coffin bearing his corpse to his country home.
Ensuring peace in the town
On arrival at his house, where elders and elite of Abagana were already waiting, eulogies were freely poured on Nwochu for his contributions towards ensuring peace in the town. Chairman of Abagana youths, Mr. Moses Muozoba said Nwochu did his best in the service of his community, adding that as the chairman of security in Njikoka local government area, he ensured that the area was safe for businesses to thrive.
He argued that if Nwochu had been granted bail when the community applied for it, he would not have died. He, however, appealed to the people to leave everything to God.
Professor Godson Okafor, who spoke on behalf of Abagana elites and Professionals, regretted that Nwochu was arrested in his house in August last year only to return as a dead person. He faulted the statement credited to the Police, which said that Abagana people were terrorists, adding that the community was only involved in a land dispute with Ukpo people.
He said: “I want the world to hear this. The police lied against us because money must have changed hands. Abagana people are peaceful people. We are not terrorists and we don’t have record of violence in our history.”
He also described Nwochu’s death as man’s inhumanity to man occasioned by power drunk individuals. He, however, asked the youths in the area not to avenge Nwochu’s death, but to leave everything to God.
President General of Abagana Welfare Union, Chief Ben Ugha described Nwochu’s death as schoking, adding that Abagana community had lost a rare gem. He said: “The demise of Ebele Nwochu has created a vacuum which will be very difficult to fill. What is most annoying is that he died in detention over an issue that concerns Abagana at large. Abagana will sure miss this courageous man, but we have to be consoled by the saying that death is a necessary end that comes when it will come.”