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Police exhume body in search of truth

Posted by By Nwabueze Okonkwo, Onitsha on 2005/10/14 | Views: 369 |

Police exhume body in search of truth

The entire scenario looked horrifying. Stinking odour stirred the air. Silence enveloped the environment as the decomposing body of a middle-aged man, Anthony Ozue, was exhumed from the grave, 11 days after he was allegedly killed and buried by his kinsmen on a farmland in Umunnowu village, Agulu in Anaocha council area of Anambra State.

The entire scenario looked horrifying. Stinking odour stirred the air. Silence enveloped the environment as the decomposing body of a middle-aged man, Anthony Ozue, was exhumed from the grave, 11 days after he was allegedly killed and buried by his kinsmen on a farmland in Umunnowu village, Agulu in Anaocha council area of Anambra State.

Ozue had allegedly been tortured, slaughtered and hurriedly buried on August 26 by the youths in the area on charges of witch-craft and use of charms to kill some natives.

Following a tip-off, a crack team of homicide detectives with a pathologist, environmental health officer, hired labourers and some aggrieved complainants from Agulu stormed the village and headed directly for Ozue’s graveside on September 6 and exhumed the decomposing body to enable doctors carry out post-mortem examinations.

The exercise lasted for about three hours under the watchful eyes of the second-in-command of the state CID, Chief Superintendent of Police (CSP) Ikechukwu Odoh; Divisional Police Officer (DPO) of Neni Police station, Mr. David Awodi (CSP); the pathologist and medical director in charge of Enugwu-Ukwu General Hospital, Dr. Louis Akah.

Others that watched the exercise were the representative of Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Barrister Emeka Agbapuonwu, the environmental health officer for Anaocha local government council, Mr. C.O. Nwosu; the traditional prime minister of Agulu, Chief P. N. Enemuo who was the representative of the traditional ruler of the town, HRH Igwe Innocent Obodoako; an aggrieved complainant, Dr. Jimmy Okonkwo, who is the adviser to the vigilance group in Nkitaku village, Agulu.

Ozue was allegedly killed during a cleansing crusade organized by the youths from the village who rounded up seven villagers, including the deceased and took them to the village hall for interrogation over their alleged role in witch-craft and use of charms to kill their fellow villagers.

Daily Sun gathered that it was during the interrogations and severe torture that the victim gave up the ghost, after allegedly admitting killing many people with charms through diabolic means.

The chairman of the village, Paul Ndeche who is already a principal suspect in police custody at the state CID, Awka, said that the deceased, Anthony Ozue, and four others were actually responsible for the mysterious death of some villagers, adding that before Ozue’s death, he confessed that Simeon Nwafor, a native doctor, gave him the charms.
Ndeche also stated that the witch doctor the deceased named admitted killing seven persons, while preparing charms for Ozue.
Also speaking, another suspect in police custody and blood relation to the late Ozue, Sunday Ozue said he had warned Anthony several times to desist from practicing occultism.

He said that the youths told him on August 25 evening that Ozue died in their custody after confessional statement. Sunday stated that he heard from the youths that before he died, Ozue admitted killing their elder brother, and others. He however added that he was not sure whether Anthony was truly practising occultism as alleged or not.
Chief Enemuo, traditional prime minister of Agulu, said he only heard there was an organized crusade in the village which he said was one of the 20 villages in Agulu, adding that he was not aware of the abduction, killing and burial of Ozue.

The complainant, Jimmy Okonkwo, said he took up the matter when his sister, Angela Ego, who got married in the village, ran to him and complained that she was among those that were abducted by the youths and accused of using charms to kill people, adding that she barely managed to escape from the hands of the youths by the whiskers.

Okonkwo said he reported the matter to the police in Awka and was given four policemen to investigate the matter. But he was attacked, stripped, robbed and man-handled by the youths when he took the policemen to the village, adding that it was this development that made him refer the matter to the state CID .

Okonkwo, who stated that he learnt Sunday had a land dispute with Ozue and might have lobbied the youths to do away with him, queried why it was only Ozue among other captives that was killed."
He therefore called for justice to take its course. As the grave was eventually opened by the hired labourers, the casket was burst open and the decomposing body of Ozue was seen lying facedown. It had machete cuts.

Amid stinking odour, in spite of all chemical applications applied to neutralize the odour, Dr. Akah performed the post mortem examination and directed that the grave be closed.

At the state CID, Awka, the Assistant Commissioner of Police, Alhaji Muhammed Katsina, said he dispatched the homicide team to carry out the exercise as part of investigations based on the tip-off.
He said that police were to investigate whether there was a crusade, whether some people were practising witchcraft and whether some people were kidnapped, tortured, killed and buried, adding that the body was exhumed based on approval from a chief magistrate and based on the fact that the corpse is the most important element in homicide investigation.

Katsina disclosed that already, Dr. Akah, a government pathologist, has pronounced the result of the post-mortem examination, which confirmed that Anthony had died as a result of application of sharp object on his body.

He confirmed that 13 persons have so far been arrested in connection with Ozue’s death and have made useful statements to the police, adding that others are still at large and are being trailed by the detectives.
He advised the fleeing suspects to surrender themselves to the police, pointing out that those arrested would soon be charged to court.

Insisting that apart from the fact that witch-craft is not known to law, Kastina frowned that the suspects rather than report a case to the police, decided to take the laws into their own hands, warning that the police would get to the bottom of the case to help deter others from unconstitutional and illegal acts.
When contacted over the telephone, the state police spokesman, Mr. Kolapo Shofoluwe said that he was not yet aware of the incident.

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Comments (1)

Fay(Katy, Texas, US)says...

Actually translates to bravehearted.