By Ikechukwu Odu
NSUKKA — The mother of the 21-year-old girl, Charity Ngozi Eze, who was allegedly raped and murdered at Imufu, Igbo-Eze North Local Government Area of Enugu State, March last year has cried out for justice over alleged shoddy investigations by Nigerian Police Force on the matter.
Vanguard reports that the late Ngozi who was living with her parents at Abuja but relocated to her village in Imufu to enable her attend extramural classes for last year’s Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examinations, UTME was allegedly raped and murdered by suspected assailants.
The mother, identified as Juliet Eze, while narrating her ugly experiences shortly after the internment of her daughter on Friday said she was pained when she saw some of the suspects walking scot-free and still challenging the family even before her daughter was buried.
Mrs Eze who was a petty trader at Abuja before her daughter’s untimely death said that it has been difficult providing for the family because she now resides in the village with her family with no means of livelihood, adding that she hardly slept since her daughter’s untimely death.
She said ” Three suspects were arrested in connection with my daughter’s rape and eventual murder. However, when they were released by the police, neither me, my husband nor the community stakeholders were aware.
“I heard their release from police custody as a rumour until I met one of the suspects the day I was going to the market to buy foodstuff for the family. That day, my heart was broken. They were even threatening that we cannot do anything to them. Police did shoddy investigations, maybe because we could not afford to pay them owing to our poor financial standing.
“I want the suspects to be rearrested and killed just as they killed my daughter. I want the government to follow up this case and secure justice for my dead child.
“I was selling ‘okpa’ at Abuja before this incident happened last year. Since then I have been in the village. Feeding is even a problem for my family now because my husband is equally poor. We have been working hard to feed our children and give them the best possible education we can afford and I had hoped on Ngozi because she worked hard and had told me she wanted to study nursing at the university. I have not been sleeping since my daughter’s life was snuffed out in her prime. Sometimes, I will wake up by 1 am, sit up and cry in the middle of the night.”
Comrade Emeka Mamah, who also spoke on behalf of the family said police had named a suspect who the victim turned down his marriage proposals.
“We cooperated with the police in providing information and other assistance but as we are talking, no policeman visited the scene of that incident. It is a year and five months now and justice has not been served. Police were only interested in money.
“Why she has not been buried since then was because they demanded money for Coronavirus Inquest Form which is normally issued free of charge.
“We used our neighbourhood watch personnel to arrest some of the suspects at Onitsha, Anambra State. We still paid the police and hired a bus for them to go and bring them. They didn’t do any serious work.
“It was the new state Commissioner of police who gave order before we got the inquest form. We still contributed about N300,000 to pay for an autopsy because left for the police, we would not have buried the girl today. At a point, we wrote a petition to the force headquarters which they didn’t reply.
“We should pray not to find ourselves into trouble because nobody will investigate anything. We are very angry because the suspects have not been punished. The local government chairman and even the state governor did not even bother to visit the family. If it were in Lagos, when someone is killed unjustly like this, the state will take over,” Mamah said.
Earlier, during the requiem mass for the deceased, the Parish Priest of St. Joseph’s Catholic Parish, Imufu, Rev. Fr. Rufus Achinike, while urging the congregation to see love as a watchword in all their endeavours, said evil continues to be on the rise in our clime due to greed and get-rich-quick syndrome in our society.
He prayed for the happy repose of the deceased and charged the congregation to embrace righteousness as the only leeway for salvation, urging the killers of Miss Eze to repent to avoid the wrath of God on the day of judgement.
While regretting the ugly ordeals of the community stakeholders in the hands of Nigerian Police Force in the process of the investigation of the rape case and eventual release of the corpse, he said “Nigeria Police is an apology,” urging the officers to repent from their back-door deals to save themselves and their generation from curses.
The youths of the community, numbering over 200 had accompanied the remains of the deceased at the St. Joseph’s Catholic Church during which they all dressed in black mournful outfits.
One of the youths, Oliver Onu, told Vanguard that they are pained by the ugly incident, calling on the authorities to do the needful by bringing the suspects to justice.