On December 23rd, 2016, two days to Christmas day, tranquility was lost in Owerri, the capital of Imo State, following the alleged shooting in cold blood of Friday Azuka Nduka by a Policeman at the NNPC Control Post. The deceased died barely four days to his wedding. The incident went viral on the social media with different versions of the incident. One common denominator however, was that Nduka is no more.
When this Reporter arrived the expansive compound of the Ndukas in Ama-Agu Ihitte village, Egbuoma in Oguta Local Government Area of Imo State, it was not in doubt that the incident was a deep loss to the entire family and indeed the community.
One-by-one, the men, women, the youth and even the children converged with Ichie Kenneth Nduka, relation of the deceased to put heads together on what next to do. Within three minutes, the Nduka compound was filled with relatives who had glowing stories to tell about the late Friday.
Ama-Agu Ihitte village, Egbuoma in Oguta local government area of Imo State is no doubt in Imo State but is actually closer to Uli in Anambra State and an ear shot to the Anambra State University premises.
Ichie Nduka, civil servant in Oguta Local Government in between sobs said “am married to Mrs Christiana Nduka, Friday’s mother and we have six children: three boys and three girls. He was our second son, aged 29 years old, and was to have his traditional marriage on the 27th of December, 2016 to Miss Mirian Ejezie from Umudike in Dikenafai, Ideato. See how they killed him; the police snuffed life out of him in such a cruel manner”.
The mass communication graduate said “my sister, see it is a miracle that l wake up everyday after seeing my son’s corpse, killed in his prime. He is the one covering my nakedness in this family. He left Nigeria for Indonesia in 2014 where he teaches English language in a secondary school and was also doing business there. He has been meeting the needs of the family and had helped two of his cousins travel abroad and was supposed to take three people abroad this January and see where he has ended!”
He explained that his late son studied at the Central Primary School Egbuoma; Egbuoma Secondary School and St Vincent Secondary School Uli in Anambra State. “We were preparing for the wine carrying to his not-to-be in-laws on December 27th and we all looked forward to it, if l had known it will contribute to his death, l would have askee him not to marry,” Ichie Nduka lamented.
He explained that Friday had learnt how to mount masts for telecom companies from his elder brother Chidi before he left for Indonesia, adding that as a young Secondary School leaver, he sold recharged cards to keep busy.
According to him “On December 22nd, 2016, he left here to go and see his fiancé’s elder brother in Owerri, to finalise plans for the traditional marriage. He called me at about 6.00pm to say he will not return home that day but will return early on the 23rd, l didn’t smell any trouble; after all he is a man. However by 1.00pm the next day, my world crashed.
“l had no inkling of trouble lurking until l received a call by 1pm on December 23rd by a man that identified himself as Miriam’s elder brother ( my would-be in-law) who said there was a development and requested that l come to the headquarters of the Imo State Police Command.
“The man on phone said to me ‘l was just given phone to make a call, please come to the State CID immediately, come and see for yourself, there is a problem involving your son’.
Further narratting his predicament, Ichie Nduka stated: “l think l died and resurrected because by the time l could get a grip on myself, the compound was filled with people offering prayers and encouragement. I left immediately with my brothers to the State Police command, when we got there, we were referred to New Owerri Police station, and at that point l knew there was trouble”.
“When we got there, the music changed, we were dribbled from office to office. Obviously l didn’t know the whereabouts of my son and but they were hesitant to give us any information. When it became too much for me to bear, my brother, Jeff Nwoha in charge of Imo ENTRACO asked me to go home with a promise that he will stay back to see my son, so l left,” he said in between heavy sighs.
“Actually l thought he was involved in an auto crash and was badly injured, so l told the Policemen to release him to us for good treatment or something but alas l was still not taken to my son and l was not happy at the information they gave us. l mean if you called me to come and see the situation by myself only to be dribbled back and forth”, he said.
According to him, it was after they confirmed l had reached home here that l was informed. He continued “at about 6.00pm my younger brother informed me that Friday was dead. Just like that, my son gone in his prime. I believe l will wake up from this nightmare soon and see my boisterous son hanging out with our people as usual.
“Friday was nicknamed Etoo Dike meaning hail the Warrior because he was always looking out for others. You cannot go hungry in his presence at most he will come and take from his mother’s pot and go hungry himself. See once Friday enters the community, people are sure of eating, because he cannot stand tears,” Ichie Nduka sttaed.
The bereaved father disclosed that it was at a meeting with the Imo State Commissioner of Police (CP), Mr Taiwo Lakanu on December 24th, 2016 that he learnt the details of his son’s death. “The CP while addressing us said the action of the Policeman (Inspector Mike Edem) that shot my son is wrong that infact if he sees the Inspector, he will personally deal with him. My sister that was how we were informed that my son was killed by a Policeman at the NNPC Control post unit. My annoyance is that after the incident, the Police, my would-have-been in-laws, or anyone for that matter outside Egbuoma community has not deemed it fit to come to my house and commiserate with us. For God sake, the Police took my pride and benefactor and up till now, it is taking the grace of God to appeal to the youths to calm down. It is not fair because if it were in another land, a riot or crises will have erupted over the incident.
“l learnt my son drove his Toyota Avalon while his Fiance elder brother drove another car to the fuel station. As l speak to you, Miriam who stayed about three weeks with us here, her supposed elder brother who both witnessed the incident have not deemed it fit to come and tell us what actually happened. Nobody from Ideato North local government and l ask, is it right? At least they owe me explanation if commiseration will be too much to ask for,” he fumed.
According to him, “I sense the Police is treating the issue lightly. Let me tell you that day we met the CP, he made a call to the supposed Inspector, Mike Edem, to surrender himself. Insp Mike had promised to surrender himself at Port Harcourt in Rivers State where he said he was hiding even though he is yet to do so. But l believe the Police can arrest him if they want to rather than telling us that they have not done the autopsy because of money. l have been the one spending and spending to attend their meetings and am tired. l want my son’s corpse released for proper burial, they have taken him, they should have mercy on us and release his corpse, am tired of the continuous delays,” he said totally overwhelmed by emotions.
The grandmother of the late man, Mrs Victoria Nduka interrupted the interview saying: “He left the house with a promise to buy me bread from Owerri and uptil now l have not seen him nor the bread. Now how will l ever see him enter my kitchen to eat because he gave up his in his mother’s kitchen. How can l as a mother bury my own grandson who should have given me a befitting burial,” the 72 years old woman lamented in Igbo language.
As if on cue, another person identified as Iyke Nduka, the deceased cousin in his 40s contined “see when Friday enters the village, he starts playing that song that says ‘share the gala, share the booze’ and all the children will just empty into our compound to collect gala and bobo drink and l mean almost everyday since November he returned home. Infact he took the children to boutiques in Owerri in turns as well as their mothers and rice for Christmas, l mean children from this compound and you know our compound is very large,” he said.
According to him, Friday is peaceful and loved to mingle with people especially children who coined the nickname Etoo Dike for him and was a beautiful chess player.
Apparently the Ndukas do not know how their son died. Sources at the fuel station said that the late Nduka had engaged one of the fuel attendants in fisticuffs over the disappearance of his iPhone 7 valued at N400,000 during an argument over why the attendant dispensed fuel to someone not on the queue.
It was gathered that the station Manager, Mrs Ruth Enemmuo and the deceased wife-to-be had intervened to calm the situation and immediately Friday entered into his car together with his wife to be, the trigger-happy police Inspector, Mike Edem fired at him; which pierced the car screen and killed him instantly.
It was also gathered that Inspector Edem immediately escaped from the scene, and went to Nekede squadron police station, where he dropped his gun under the guise that he was going to return for it but is yet to seen anywhere there.
When contacted, the Police Public Relations Officer in the state, Andrew Enwerem, confirmed the incident and described the character of the Inspector as very unruly.
Enwerem expressed pains at the death of the deceased saying already the Police command has commenced measures to ensure justice is done. He commiserated with the family of the deceased and said the State Commissioner of Police, Lakanu is working to ensure the fleeing officer is apprehended and prosecuted as directed by the Inspector General of Police.
At the moment, the filling station is currently locked down with police presence. Meanwhile, the people of Egbuoma have warned that the matter will not be treated lightly, that is justice is not done, the authorities should prepare for war because Friday was one of their best and they will not treat the matter lightly.