If the dead could talk or even be given a second chance to come back to life, youthful Charity Ngozi Ezeh would not contemplate taking the decision to return home to take her preparatory lessons for JAMB and the nursing school.
Ngozi aged 20 was the first daughter and second child of seven children of Jonathan and Ginika Ezeh of Imufu community, Enugu-Ezike, Igbo-Eze North LGA, Enugu State.
She was brought up in Abuja where her parents eked out a living. Despite being low income earners, the parents struggled to see her through both private and public schools in Abuja until she wrote her WAEC and NECO exams including JAMB two year ago. Though she could not gain admission into the higher school in the same year owing to her not having a credit in Chemistry, she did not relent, but took another WAEC and was successful.
Unrelenting in her desire to train as a nurse, the family decided to bring her nearer home and that was how she relocated to her hometown to retake JAMB and also write admission exams for a nearby nursing school in Nsukka.
But the family decision, despite being the wisest for them at the time of the implementation, has turned out to be their greatest miscalculation and loss.
Ngozi’s aspiration to become a nurse has not only turned out a pipe dream, but her life was brutally cut short on March 27, this year by yet-to-be identified assailants who not only raped her callously, but also strangled her to death in a bush path behind the community secondary school.
For the family, it is a very bleak Easter celebration while darkness seemed to have enveloped their entire household. To say the least, the sunshine in their family has been taken away in a most callous manner, a situation that will only take divine intervention to forestall further calamity in the family because the parents have remained inconsolable since then. Worst hit, is the mother who has been oscillating between going nuts and retaining sanity since the incident happened.
My ‘soul’ has been taken away from me – Father
Sunday Sun reporter managed to extract some words from the distraught family during a visit to their home at Orukpa, Imufu community. Amidst sobs and sighs, Ngozi’s father, Jonathan, recalled the event of the day before he heard the shattering news of his daughter’s death.
Having relocated to the village from Abuja last year leaving the wife and the other children in the Federal Capital Territory, Ngozi and the second to the last born joined him in the village this January.
As if he had a premonition that danger was lurking around the corner for her daughter, he has been so protective of her that he made it a point of duty to drop her daily on his motorcycle in the lesson centre at Ogrute and also comes back to take her home after the day’s activity.
“I take her to the lesson centre everyday, but I couldn’t find her when I went back to pick her back around 6:20p.m that day. I was confused because I know that she doesn’t know much people around having come back newly from Abuja. I was restless when I got home and I raised the alarm immediately. Some people told me to relax that she may have decided to chill out with some boys, but I didn’t take that because I know her as a very reserved and pious daughter of mine.
“It was the next day that we heard people gathering somewhere talking about a young girl that was raped and murdered. They called me to come to the scene probably to identify her and lo and behold, when I got there, it was my beloved daughter, lying stone cold, legs parted, her skirt and under wear removed.
“This was a girl that has lived all her life in Abuja until now that she decided to be closer home in order to fulfill her life dream of becoming a nurse. They have taken away my soul and I can only cry unto God to handle this situation for me and my family. I want justice. I want to see those who killed my precious daughter so I can say thank you to him/them,” he said bursting into tears.
The worst phone call I’ve ever received in my life – Ngozi’s mother
Mrs Ginika Eze, Ngozi’s mother while recounting how she got to know about her daughter’s death said the phone call that Ngozi was missing remain the worst call she had ever received in her life. She noted that before now, she was so attached to her that it was very difficult for her to allow Ngozi relocate to the village this year because of her studies.
“I was too close to her to the extent that I had to think about it one day critically where I asked myself does it mean that she will not get married and relocate to her husband’s family one day. That was how I allowed her to leave me in Abuja more so as it also concerns her future and happiness which has always been nursing. But since she relocated, we talk on daily basis and on that day, I called as usual, but her line was switched off and I had to call her daddy. I asked my husband why her number was not available and he muttered some incoherent words saying that they have been searching for her. The next call was that her dead body has been found. It remains a great shock to me because if she had been sick before now, it would have been somehow understandable.
“My brain is bursting to pieces as I think about this. They told me Ngozi is dead, but I’m yet to understand the reality or circumstances of her death. If she had died in my arms after some period of sickness, it will pain me, but I will take it as her fate, but to brutally cut short the life of a harmless girl just like that, makes me go insane.”
When asked to describe the kind of person Ngozi was to her, she said: “She has been a very bright girl. That is my pains. If she was the wayward type, I would have taken it as her reward for such lifestyle, but this is a girl whose lifestyle revolves around church, home and studies, nothing more. She doesn’t have time for boys or such intimate stuffs.”
Traditional ruler sheds tears, vows to ensure justice
The Traditional Ruler of Imufu Community, Igwe Remigius Attah, while commenting on the incident expressed sadness on the gruesome killing of the young girl.
He said that the entire community, including those at home and abroad, have decided to get to the root of the matter to ensure that the culprits are apprehended and justice served too.
“I cannot remember the last time I shed tears, but I cried like a baby that day after seeing what happened to that young girl. It is a heinous crime against humanity. Our people are united in seeking justice over the situation. Though the assailants took away the young girls phone after accomplishing their devilish task, we have succeeded in tracking the phone records of the girl. Two persons that spoke with the girl that day she was murdered have been arrested and are making useful statements to the police now. I’m only appealing to the law enforcement agencies to be up and doing and avoid any compromise in investigation and prosecution of this matter. It is a sad situation,” the traditional ruler lamented.
The Catholic Church in the community has also taken a spiritual angle to the matter. Sunday Sun learnt that the Parish Priest of St Joseph’s Parish, Imufu, Rev. Fr Rufus Achinike rallied the entire parishioners to embark on seven days rosary procession for the soul of the departed and for God to expose the culprits.
The President General, Imufu Town Union, Lawrence Mamah described the situation as pathetic. He described the deceased as a young girl with energy and focus and revealed that the 14 branches of Imufu Town Union across the federation have agreed to support the security agencies to unravel the circumstances surrounding the girl’s murder.
Mamah who recently retired from the Nigerian Police said that was the first time such incident has happened in the community hence the resolve to tackle the situation without hesitation to ensure that it doesn’t repeat.
“What we need in this case is justice. The family is in pain because they lost the same person that they are struggling to train so that she will even be the bread winner in the family. Her life was cut short and the most painful was the rape. The signs they left in her body was very visible and it is appalling and barbaric that such a thing is happening here.”
He appreciated the police for their effort so far, but didn’t mince words in saying that they should do more.
“There should be a concerted effort, a crack team that should be following this. This is an organised crime and this girl was with an android phone the day she was killed.
She was supposed to sit for JAMB. We are ready to follow it both spiritually and otherwise to ensure that justice is done. We are calling on the Commissioner of Police to take up this matter personally.
“Governor Ugwuanyi is also a listening governor and we call on him to come to the aid of the family and help ensure justice too. The Catholic Church here has been trying their best and we are also calling on Non-Governmental Organisations that handle women and gender issues to also wade into this matter. This is a crime against humanity and nobody should ignore it. Today, it is the family of Jonathan Eze, tomorrow it may be another person’s turn,” Mamah said.
When the reporter visited the Ogrute Police Division, the DPO in charge was not available, but a senior officer who pleaded anonymity said that it was the police that deposited Ngozi’s corpse at the District Hospital Mortuary while the case file and suspects will be transferred to the Enugu Police headquarters.