Emmanuel Henry, the first son of the deceased village head of Nsie community, Chief Effiong Etimene, tells PATRICK ODEY the circumstances that led to the untimely death of his father in the protracted youth leadership crisis rocking the community in the Okobo Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State
What was your relationship with the deceased?
The late village head was my father. Indeed, I’m his first child. He had so many other children. The last time I went to the village was when I went to pay the bride price of my wife and my father and other members of the family, including my mother, were in attendance. My father was a primary school teacher. After retirement, he joined the traditional council in the village. He was a Justice of the Peace and thereafter became the village head of our community. Before he became the village head, he served in so many capacities and did so many things for the community like renovating the abandoned police station before he was killed.
How did you hear about his death?
The youth leader, Aniefiok Mkpo-Abasi, who was alleged to have been poisoned to death, was my uncle and when he died, it was my father that reported the death to me. I asked my father what led to his death and he responded by saying that he would look for a solution. Initially, they accused someone of allegedly poisoning him (Mkpo-Abasi) by mixing a herbal concoction for him to drink. We were informed that about four people drank the herbal mixture. The deceased youth president was the fourth person that drank the mixture but at the end of the day, he was the only one that died.
How was your father implicated in the death of the deceased youth leader?
When he (Mkpo-Abasi) died, my father went to the village hall for an autopsy on his death. He contributed N50,000 and others contributed N50,000 in order to find a ‘solution.’ Thereafter, the people who went to find the ‘solution’ assembled in the village hall. When they gathered, someone allegedly sponsored some cult members to retaliate the death of the youth president. The suspect has been having some issues with my father over the next local government election in the state. When they gathered at the village hall, he was said to have called my father to say that they were waiting for him. My father abandoned the food he was eating and rushed to the town and after addressing the people, he gave those who went for the findings an opportunity to speak and the accused person, Sunday Walter Ukoh, was also given the opportunity to speak. But while he was speaking, somebody was said to have smashed a bottle over his head and as a result, a fight ensued.
My father insisted that the accused should not be killed. Thereafter, one man took the accused person out and told the people not to allow my father to go out of the village hall. After that, another man removed my father’s phone from his pocket. As a result, my father could not call the police for intervention. Somehow, the daughter of the accused managed to call the police. The police came but could not access the town hall. They only succeeded in arresting three persons and went away. They reinforced and came back and did their best to rescue my father but to no avail. The angry cult members, having suspected that my father had invited the police, started beating him. They dragged him outside and stoned him, put him inside a plastic water tank, poured petrol on him and burnt him to ashes.
Why did the suspected cult members treat him that way if he didn’t play any role in the death of the youth president?
No, it was a case of conspiracy against my father. There was a certain list the villagers gave to my father to work with from Iyima group of villages and my father told them to join hands together and bring out the best person. They told him if he didn’t work with the list, he should consider himself dead.
Are you saying the villagers conspired and killed your father?
My father’s death came as a result of the conspiracy and intrigues ahead of the upcoming local government election in the state. He was mandated to support a candidate for the councillorship position and when my father resisted, they conspired and sponsored cult members. And the police could not do anything because the cult members were many.
Are you aware of any police investigation on the matter?
The case has been transferred to the police headquarters at Ikot Akpan-Abia. We have recorded our statements and the Investigative Police Officer handling the case promised to come to see the place my father was killed and also investigate the death of the youth president.
Did you have any premonition about your father’s death?
The only thing I had a long time ago was a dream where I saw strange things coming into my life. But I didn’t notice it would come to pass in this manner.
How do you think the case can be settled?
I want the police to prosecute the killers of my father in accordance with the laws of the land. Even the Bible says the soul that sins must die. So, they should be killed for the blood they have shed.
SOURCE: THE PUNCH