Tragedy struck at the Umuovo village in Umuahia South Local Government Area of Abia State in the early hours of Sunday February 28, 2016, when unidentified assailants gruesomely murdered an 86- year-old man and his wife in their sleep. The victims, Mr. Godfrey Onyenadum Asonye, and Mrs. Keziah Asonye, 70, it was gathered, were clubbed to death by their attackers at about 1am. The killers, it was learnt, were believed to have come for the couple’s car, other valuables and money being sent to them by their children outside the state for their personal upkeeps. Immediate younger brother of the victims, Mr. Lawrence Chukwuemeka Asonye, who spoke to Southern City News on Friday, said the assailants allegedly entered his brother’s compound through the backyard fence.
He said, “My elder brother and his wife were only living with two small girls, aged about 13, and eight as their children (two men and four women) are all living outside the state. “Pa Asonye was a British-trained civil engineer who retired with the Abia State Ministry of Works. He was a devout Christian and a committed member of the Assemblies of God Church, Old Umuahia, where the church emanated from in 1939. “We found him dead in his bed while the wife’s hands and feet were tied backwards with sellotape before she was hacked. The attackers used stick in clubbing the hapless couple to death.”
Also, another family source, Rev. Stone O. Stone, who said he was the one that took the bodies of the victims to the mortuary, added that the man had “what looked like an injury caused by a punch to his jaw region.” The cleric, who said he was raised by the victim (his maternal uncle), explained that he had been emotionally destabilised and shattered by the incident and declared that the culprits would not escape justice.
It was learnt that the assailants, after the dastardly act, locked the rooms behind the victims after carting away their plasma television, clothes, some other valuables and money sent to them by their children.
A relative, who does not want his name mentioned, said the bandits had packed the loot inside the victim’s Toyota car that was parked inside his garage and were apparently searching for the key to unlock the gate before an alarm was raised by one of the little girls who were in deep sleep in another room. They fled the scene afterwards.
One of the little girls (name withheld) living with the victims told Southern City News that she was in deep sleep when she suddenly felt something was about suffocating her and she quickly woke up. She said, “When I woke up, I discovered my mouth had been covered with a wet handkerchief and I saw a man wearing a mask who was trying to hold me, but I pushed him out and ran out of the house and started shouting. “I was calling papa and mama but they were not responding. So, I ran to the neighbours living in the other house in the compound, but they were afraid to come out. As I continued shouting, the robbers jumped out through the back fence.”
Meanwhile, a suspect has been arrested by the police in connection with the crime. The suspect was arrested following a foot print allegedly traced to his house by members of the village vigilant group from the backyard fence through where one of the attackers had escaped. A family source said one leg of the slippers of the suspect was picked on the way apparently as he fled while the other leg was seen at the entrance to his door when the vigilante members stormed his house.
The source said, “As we traced the footprints with the vigilante group, we saw one of the slippers on the way and picked it. We traced it to a house and the mother of the suspect said that her son was not at home, but left the house in the night. “We saw exactly the other leg of the slippers in front of the door and it was at that point that the youths threatened to burn down the house and the suspect emerged from the room.” The source said the suspect had been handed over to the police for interrogation while the other suspect, a former tenant in the victims’ house, was said to be at large.
One of the daughters of the victims, who just returned from Lagos, Miss Ugonna Asonye, said she was more confused than bereaved, saying, “It is still not looking real to me. “I enter their room and still feel my father is there. I just want to know the culprit. Not that my father was rich. Half of the money we sent to them was for their medication,” she said.
When contacted, the Abia State Police Public Relations Officer, Mr. Ezekiel Onyeke Udeviotu, confirmed the incident and said only one suspect had been taken into custody in connection with the crime. He however, refused to disclose the name of the suspect, but said investigations were ongoing and that efforts to track down other possible accomplices were being intensified.
Udeviotu said, “There is no perfect crime anywhere in the world; a criminal will always leave a trace behind. So, we are asking questions to gather credible information that will help us apprehend the culprits.”