By Ifeanyi Okolie
Operatives of the Force Intelligence Response Team, IRT, have unravelled the circumstances surrounding the gruesome murder of a middle-aged man, Francis Atache, whose corpse was found in a bush at Makurdi, Benue State, in August 2020.
Atache, who was a staff of the National Open University of Nigeria, NOUN, in Benue State, was said to have been attacked and robbed by some gunmen on his way back from work while his lifeless body was dumped in a bush.
It was gathered that the police in Benue State was alerted when residents of the area found the decomposing corpse and the police, during its investigations, arrested one Ikon Danasabe, also a staff of the National Open University of Nigeria, NOUN, who was said to have had a feud with the deceased few days before he was killed.
Sources disclosed that Danasabe denied killing Atache at the time he was interrogated by the police and he was subsequently remanded at the Makurdi Correctional Center, on a holding charge, which was obtained from a Magistrate Court.
Vanguard gathered that since Danasabe wasn’t charged for murder and the Makurdi police had no strong evidence linking him to the crime, which may see him being set free by the court, relatives of late Atache then promptly wrote a petition to the Inspector General of Police, Adamu Mohammed, asking him to order an intensive and discreet investigation into the matter.
Operatives of the IRT, headed by Deputy Commissioner of Police, Abba Kyari, were then assigned to commence investigate the matter which saw a team of crack operatives deployed to Makurdi, Benue State who visited the site where the corpse was found as well as the NOUN study centre where Atache and Danasabe worked.
The team then discovered that Danasabe was a member of dreaded Aye Confraternity and he had a feud with Atache over the sum of N70,000.
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The operatives also discovered that Danasabe invited his cult members to help him kill Atache when he refused to pay him the said sum.
It was learned that when the IRT operatives verified this information and discovered its authenticity, they visited the Makurdi Correctional detention, brought out Danasabe and reinterrogated him with those facts and he later confessed masterminding the killing of Atache, adding that he had no other option.
In an interview with Vanguard, Danasabe who is from the Junkum tribe in Taraba state, said; “I am a staff of NOUN, Markudi branch. I am 31 years, I have BSc in public administration.
“I started working with NOUN over 5-years, I started as senior clerical officer as I used my diploma to apply for the work.
“While at work I applied for school study where I got my BSc from NOUN. Francis Atache was a junior clerical officer who worked with me.
“If I generated data for students to go and pay their school fees at the bank, I usually give him the money to go and help me pay it.
“On that day, I was preparing to go to Nassarawa and I gave Francis money to help me pay for my monthly contribution organized by one Alhaji.
“Normally after some months or years we would collect the money back with interest. I told him that if he paid the money he would be given a paper that would serve as receipt and reflect my balance.
“When I came back, I asked for the paper, he promised to bring it to work the next day. The next day when I asked for the paper, he gave one excuse or the other.
“I reported him to his elder sister who was also working in the same office, after two days that I did not hear from her, I called her again and she asked me why I gave money to Francis who was not trustworthy.
“Francis then started threatening me with gun; I even reported the matter to the director. I told him that if he wanted to engage in confraternity war, we should do it outside after office hours.
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“Later I reported the case to the vigilante in our area and he begged for two days. The two days elapsed and a week later, I called the vigilante people to report him again.
“Francis met me the next day and told me that I should bring proof that I gave him the money. He made it clear to me that he was not going to pay me my money.
“I was bitter because I knew at that point he was not going to give me the money. I contacted my cult members and asked them to monitor his movement. There was a place near a Bishop’s farm where we normally went to smoke and relax.
“On August 5, my cult members who spied on him got information that he was going there to buy weed and smoke. I chose that place to confront him because if anything should happen, people would assume that it was a cult fight and would not take it serious.
“When he went there with his friends, about 15 of us went there to meet him. I confronted him with the issue, my boys asked him to surrender the money he had with him.
“He had more than N70, 000 at that point which he wanted to use to buy weed which he would sell at boys’ town. He refused to surrender the money. Meanwhile, while we were coming, I brought an axe and the others came with their guns.
“When he refused to bring the money, we started fighting. He stood up and came after me, my boys hit him with a stick from the back and he fell down. He started bleeding and stopped moving.
“Everyone was terrified and ran away from him. I ran home, took some of my clothes and left my house. I got information that the police found the body. We did not hide it, unfortunately, I was found and arrested. I did not expect him to die like that.
“After some days in police detention, I was remanded in prison. Meanwhile, I told them that I was innocent. I was shocked when on August 29, police came and picked me.
“They had arrested some of the boys who witnessed the incident. I had no choice but to tell them the truth. I denied it initially because they didn’t have any proof. I did not use the axe but a stick.
“I was initiated in 2009 into Aye confraternity by one Ernest. Aye means African Youth Empowerment. It is normal for every youth to join one cult group or the other to earn respect.
“We still relate with other cult groups that was why I trusted Francis so much to give him such money to make payment for me.
“I only wanted to scare him as we normally did as cult members but he died in the process. I was not the one who hit him with the stick but I pinned him down on the ground while my guys were beating him”.
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