Daily Trust (Abuja)

12 May 2013

Nigeria: Enugu Community in Turmoil Over Suspected Ritual Murder of 4-Year-Old Boy

Reverend Pastor Charles Nwachukwu Ejim of All Nations for Christ Bible Church, Akpugo, Nkanu West Local Government Area of Enugu State and his wife, Charity, have given a graphic and pathetic detail of how their last child, four-year-old Marvelous Ugochukwu Ejim was cunningly picked by a trusted friend of the family and subsequently had his throat slashed with a knife. The blood of the lad was apparently collected by his killer(s) for ritual purpose since there was no trace of blood around the spot inside the bush where the body was dumped, nor was there any stain or drop of blood on the boy's clothes; and there was no part of his body missing, according to parents of the murdered boy.

Marvelous, before he was reportedly kidnapped and slaughtered on Thursday, April 25, 2013, allegedly by one Chijindu Ewo, 23, was a Nursery 3 pupil at the Central Primary School, Umatugbuoma, Akegbe-Ugwu. Chijindu is now cooling off inside police cell at the Enugu State Police Command in the state capital. He is helping homicide detectives to unravel the real motive behind the said murder, our reporter was informed.

Umuatugbuoma is a remote autonomous community created out from the old Akaegbe-Ugwu, in the Nkanu West council area of the state. The community has been known for infamous acts in the past to the point that non-indigenes and indigenes as well fear the area. Serious crimes, armed banditry, fearful masquerades; occult, voodoo practices and killings are usually linked to the area. Although some churches and other religious groups are said to have been fighting against the ugly practices, such wicked acts have not abetted. One of the most notorious armed robbers the state has produced in this century, fondly called Ngwu Ekere Omu, also hailed from the community. The robber was, however, reportedly killed in a bloody shootout with security forces some years back.

"Some highly placed people at Abuja are interested in this case. They said they would like to see to the root of it," said Reverend Ejim, who quickly added, "All the police men handling this matter; not even one of them has collected any money from me. Even when I tried severally to give them money to buy fuel, they rejected it. They said if they had money, they would have even given me to pursue the matter to the end. They said this type of thing could have happened to anybody's child, and so it must be condemned by all right thinking people. The police men said they are not happy about what happened; how the innocent boy was killed."

According to Reverend Ejim, a top police officer phoned from Abuja and asked him, "Why is it that your community is always in the news for bad things only? Whenever Akaegbe-Ugwu is in the news is either for armed robbery or any other serious and strange crime?" Just on September 6th, 2012, the Ejim's family lost their eldest promising son, Stephen Oluchukwu Ejim in a road accident. The road mishap that claimed his life occurred just a day before he had obtained his travel visa and was to travel abroad.

When our reporter visited the family at their remote village, Umuatugbuoma, Akaegbe-Ugwu, scores of sympathisers were still filling into the compound. "Anybody who loves us should please pray for us. I know God is going to enable us get to the root of this wickedness and violation meted to an innocent boy. God will help us get to the truth of this matter," Rev. Ejim told the sympathisers with confidence in God.

He added, "The fact that my first son died in a road accident on a Thursday, a day before he was to travel abroad, and now my last born was killed on Thursday showed that something is wrong somewhere." But he did not pin-point what really is amiss.

Trouble started for the innocent lad on Thursday April 25, 2013. Marvelous was said to have returned from school around 1pm and after a short while was declared missing from inside of his father's compound. Thereupon, a search team was formed that combed all the nooks and crannies of the neighbourhood without any luck. But on the following day, Friday, 26th April the lifeless body of Marvelous was found dumped inside a bush within the area. A lady in the area had gone to ease herself in the morning around 7am and stumbled on the boy's corpse inside the bush. Awe-struck, she raised an alarm that attracted the entire natives to the spot. The boy's throat was cut open without any stain of blood on his clothes or body, according to Mrs Ejim.

On Saturday, April 27, 2013, Chijindu Ewo, son of a village barber in the community, who is also a very close friend of the Ejim's had reportedly gone to sit for the JAMB examination. Chijindu, it was said, "could not write even his name on the answer script" because he was restless throughout the period of the exam. "The ghost of Marvelous was disturbing him inside the exam hall and he (Chijindu) had to beg the invigilators to allow him access to his GSM handset to make an urgent call," according to Mrs Ejim, who added that "Chijindu later called Marvelous' brother and informed him that 'I slaughtered that your younger brother', and that his spirit has been disturbing him inside the exam hall," Mrs Ejim told Sunday Trust.

It was gathered that the telephone information spread quickly like wild fire across the community and the youths in the area wanted to take the law into their hands by calling for the head of Chijindu and whoever was his collaborator.

"The angry youths provided petrol and matches in order to burn houses belonging to any one linked in the strange killing of the little boy. The youths were made angrier by the attitude of Chijindu's parents who were trying to shield him, and also attempted to smuggle him out of sight and out of reach," said Mrs Ejim. "It was the arrival of the police from Agbani police station that saved the chaos that was about to follow," added Reverend Ejim. When Chijindu was questioned about the blood of Marvelous, he reportedly said that he drank the whole blood, our reporter was told. "The parents of the key suspect told the police that the boy was insane but the police felt they were telling lies and arrested them, too," Sunday Trust was informed.

Few days inside the police cell, Chijindu has reportedly given detectives graphic account of how the plot against little Marvelous was made and eventually executed. He told the police that he had made four previous attempts to kidnap the deceased before the fifth one that proved 'successful' on the fateful day, according to Ejim. The key suspect has also given names of four other young men who were involved in the death of the lad. He reportedly told the police that after killing the boy, his blood was put inside a bucket, but he did not reveal to whom the blood was given by the other four persons. The four suspects have reportedly gone into hiding for fear of facing the music, although nobody knows how long they will run before the long arm of the law would catch them.

One pathetic and ironical aspect of the development that still amazes the bereaved Mrs. Charity Ejim is that "Chijindu who feeds in our house almost daily, and had easy access to all the rooms in our house, could be so wicked to plot and do this evil thing to an innocent child, my last born." The State Police Public Relations Officer, Ebere Amaraizu confirmed the incident and said that the homicide unit of the police command is currently handling the matter and that serious progress has been made. "It's still under thorough investigation."

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