Who Murdered This EBSU Graduate, NYSC Awaiting Call-Off Letter In The Farm?

By Okechukwu Onuegbu
Spot Of The Murder Incident
Spot Of The Murder Incident

It was an atmosphere of agony and uncertainty last Christmas season at a prominent Poultry farm situated in outskirt of Ebenebe (along Ugbenu/Ugbene/Awba-Ofemili road) Awka-North local government area, Anambra state, after some unascertained persons allegedly stormed the farm; clubbed one of its staff to death, strangled many fowls, vandalized facilities worth millions of naira and made aware with some money and a motorcycle.

Sources within the farm (owned by a prominent indigene of Ogidi, Idemili-North LGA), told this reporter that the intruders perpetrated the ungodly act on 26th December night, 2013, and gave the name of their assassinated colleague as Pastor “Samuel” who resided within the farm compound.

However, our reporter reliably confirmed that the deceased name is Evang. Samuel I. Ukpata; a fresh graduate of Animal Science, Department of Animal Science, Faculty of Agriculture and Natural Resources Management of Ebonyi State University and an Evangelist/Member-Board of Trustees of Holy Grace Ministries, Onuebonyi-Abakaliki, Ebonyi state.

Our correspondent who visited EBSU, Abakaliki campus on Tuesday, 14th January 2014 learnt that the deceased graduated from the said institution and department last year and was issued with a clearance certificate and statement of result in October, 2013.

A staff member of the university (unaware of Samuel's fate) stated that “Yes, I know him. He is our former student; just finished last year and awaiting his NYSC call-off letter expected early this year… What is the matter, please? Hope he has done nothing wrong. I knew him as a gentle, peace loving and religious man. Where is he now?”

At the poultry farm, what our correspondent encountered could best be described as a desolate environment. The premises was pervaded by the sort of quietness found at graveyards, no security was found but some staff of the farm were on duty inside the compound that was firmly under lock and key.

In the room used by Samuel prior to his death, his personal properties such as religious books, text books, dictionary, cloths, electric fan dispersed all over his room where found scattered all over.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, one of the workers in the farm said: “We (the staff) left our colleague at about 6P.M on 26th December 2013 but surprisingly, we met his lifeless body lying under a pool of blood as we returned to work next morning (27th). When we raised an alarm, passers-by ran in to discover what transpired. Then, we contacted our Oga (MD/CEO) on phone; and he drove-in few hours later, accompanied by his brother, Odinaka and policemen and made away with the corpse and some items for investigation at about 6p.m.”.

Continuing, the worker alleged: “My boss recounted to us how he contacted Late Samuel via his phone numbers-07035414371 at 9p.m (the same day he was murdered) to ask about him and the poultry”, adding that the padlock of the farm's entrance gate seemed to have been unlocked while an apartment of three rooms (one occupied by their dead colleague, other two-belong to one Mr. Odinaka, the MD/CEO's brother and store of eggs) as well as the wire-mesh covering the chicken house were looted. “We saw both the living and dead birds lying in and outside the compound”, she said.

Also, the source suggested that the assailants might have hit a heavy wooden frame at back of their victim while negotiating selling price with him. “We saw a deep wound at back of his head and heavy wooden frame, our daily accounts book and a biro (suggesting that he was tricked into the chicken house by assailants who pretended to be buyers). But we did not see his phones, our supply motorcycle and about N20, 000 we left in his custody previous day”.

It was gathered that although the slain got employed in the firm on December 1, 2013 and was hoping to receive his first salary (of N8, 000 being paid to each staff per-month) on 1st January or thereabout, everything including keys, account books, daily sales among others were entrusted to his care.

Another colleague of Ukpata (names withheld by us) described him as “a quiet, born-again (religious) and voracious reader” who spoke-less but “always married his books and bible”, maintaining that he hardly exited the compound “except while on errand to make some purchase inside town or market or to supply fowls; yet often returned earlier than expected” adding that they had never spotted him exchanging harsh words with people or customers.

Our correspondent further learnt that Mr. Odinaka occupies a room (next to the deceased) prior to the incident and passes night therein (sometimes alone or with his brother-MD/CEO) since establishment of the farm in the late June 2013, but might have been lucky on that fateful day as he allegedly driven home (to Ogidi) with intent to assist his sibling in making sales at a poultry farm in their country home during the period of festivity.

Contacted on phone twice, (9th and 16 January, 2013), Odinaka refused to comment claiming that the case has been transferred from Awka-North police headquarters, Achalla to Anambra State Criminal Investigative Department (CID) Amawbia.

However, when informed that he was accused of masterminding the killing, he quickly requested our reporter to keep calling to ascertain when he would be on ground so as to speak to him face-to-face, saying that he was at Onitsha. However, an Insider, contacted thereafter, told this reporter that the young man just left the farm same morning.

As at time of filing this report, the management of the farm was yet to react to the allegation that it might have had a hand in the fate of the deceased.

Meanwhile, the Police Public Relations Officer, Anambra state Command, DSG Emeka Chukwuemeka, told our reporter on phone that he was yet to be briefed on the incident, adding that he would contact the PG and Traditional Ruler of Ebenebe to find out.

Also reacting, Traditional Ruler of Ebenebe, HRM Eze Christopher Emeka Nnaegbune (Iga 11 Ebenebe), said he received the sad news with great shock as that was first case of killing and robbery to be recorded in the town, claiming also that it was first time he learnt that a poultry farm exists anywhere within his jurisdiction.

Igwe Nnaegbune, who distanced his subjects from the heinous crime, lambasted the farmer for acquiring and developing such a piece of land without providing adequate security for the workers particularly as the farm is situated in a bush where the community shares boundary with Ugbenu/Ugbene/Awba-Ofemili and Ezi-Agu Local Government of Enugu state.

He equally urged Nigerian Police to intensify efforts towards bringing the culprits to book.

When questioned, the people of Amaonalu kindred, Uwani village, Ebenebe who sold the land to the Ogidi Poultry Farmer, declined to comment for the reason that they “are at peace with him (the buyer/MD)” and had no dispute with any of his workers including late Ukpata.