The life of Monday Ukwa, 45, a native of Nwekendiagu, Effium community in Ohaukwu Local Government Area of Ebonyi State was allegedly cut short by some of his church members opposed to his emergency as the new leader of Hospitality Unit of Living Faith Church (Winners Chapel) of Umuoghara chapter, Ezza North Local Government Area of the state.
The level 15 pharmacist with the Federal Teaching Hospital, Abakaliki, was allegedly clubbed to death by three persons in an uncompleted building located along Abakaliki/Enugu Expressway in Abakaliki metropolis after the church inaugurated him as the new leader of its hospitality unit.
He was at a drinking joint located in the area with the suspects when he was whisked away to the uncompleted storey building where he was killed. He was allegedly beaten with an object, with blood guzzling out of his nose and eyes and he later died.
His killers then dragged his corpse from the uncompleted building and deposited it at a roadside in the area and took to their heels. However, two of the suspects are now in police net and are said to be helping them with their investigation into the case.
The three suspects Ukwa was with at the drinking joint at 10pm on the fateful day are Ogbonna Igboke, one Frank and another person identified simply as Oliver. The three persons are alleged to have masterminded the act.
Frank and the deceased were said to have been locked in a leadership tussle of the church’s Hospitality Unit. Frank was said to have held the position for more than two years tenure stipulated by the church’s rules. As a result, an election was conducted where Ukwa was elected as the new leader of the unit.
But this development did not allegedly go down well with Frank, who it was gathered had projected Ogbonna Igboke as his successor. But his choice was disregarded by the church and instead the deceased, who is a father of four was elected. It was further gathered that Frank refused to recognise Ukwa as the new leader of the unit and as a result refused to handover to him but for the pastor of the church who was said to have prevailed on him.
On Sunday March 3, which was the handover date, a dispute was said to have arisen between Frank and Ukwa, which almost marred the handover ceremony.
But in the evening of that same day, Ukwa was said to have gone to the drinking joint in company with Frank, Ogbonna Igboke, while Oliver was also present at the joint.
It was gathered that the men drank till late in the night before they allegedly lured the pharmacist to the uncompleted building at the back of the joint where they allegedly killed him and ran away.
The corpse was allegedly dragged to the front of the building and dumped by the roadside.
Members of a vigilante group set up by the state government known as Neighbourhood Security Watch, were patrolling the area when they saw Ukwa’s corpse and then commenced investigation into the matter.
The vigilante group went to the drinking joint and interrogated the owner who disclosed that the deceased was at the joint on the night of his death drinking with the suspects. The group went after the suspects and arrested Ogbonna Igboke whom they later handed over to the police.
The police later arrested another suspect in connection with the killing.
The state Police Public Relations Officer, ASP Loveth Odah, confirmed Ukwa’s death. She said the deceased was identified by some members of staff of the federal hospital.
She said that a close relative of the deceased revealed that the victim was lured from his residence after church service only to be found dead on Monday morning.
Odah said: “In the process of moving the man to the mortuary, the personnel of FETHA identified the man to be one of their employees working in the pharmacy department.
“A close relative of the deceased now came and reported that yesterday after church service, a member of the church came to their house and took him away and in the morning he was found dead,” she said.
She said investigation into the matter was still ongoing.
Speaking to Saturday Telegraph in their Abakaliki residence, wife of the deceased, Mrs. Nkechinyere Ukwa, who described her husband as a jovial and easy-going person, alleged that Frank masterminded his killing and called on the security agents to bring the perpetrators to book.
She said her husband death has left a vacuum that no one can fill, lamenting that the husband promised to assist her in her educational pursuit.
The National Open University (NOUN) student of Law said her children could not sleep in the night without their father, especially her last child, who always slept on her father’s tummy.
How my husband met his death
She said: “On March 3 being Sunday, during the Sunday church service, my husband and I were in the church with other church members waiting for the person that was supposed to handover the leadership position to my husband to do so but that person, Frank, by the name, walked away. He walked away and refused to handover to my husband who was supposed to be the next leader of the unit.
“The church is Living Faith Chapel (Winners Chapel), Umuoghara chapter. So, the pastor in charge of the church went to Frank and asked him why he was not in the church to handover to the next leader. He reluctantly came out after several pleas and persuasions by the pastor and reluctantly handed over to my husband.
“But why he (Frank) was at the back seat where he do sit with some of his group members, they were murmuring and some members of the church present were not surprised. The election for new leader of the church was done last year when our former pastor was there before he was transferred. So, Frank was the former leader of a group called Hospitality Unit in the church and the church elected my husband to be the new leader of that unit to take over from him but he vowed not to relinquish power to him.
“Rather, Frank started projecting one Ogbonna Igboke as the new leader of Hospitality Unit of our church. The church insisted that my husband must be the leader of the unit warning that Frank will be ruling by proxy if the leadership is given to Ogbonna Igboke.
In this unit (Hospitality Unit), a leader stays for only two years tenure but Frank has served more than two tenures. He has always been fighting any pastor posted to the church. Even an ugly incident occurred before the last pastor was transferred of which Frank nearly pulled down the church.
“My husband even said he was not interested in this post. He was an elder on the board of Deacon Assembly. He said he didn’t have interest. On Sunday that he was killed, he told me in the morning that he was not going to church. But that day was the day Winners’ churches conduct their handover worldwide. My husband said he was not going to the church but I encouraged him to go and take up the office of the new leader of that unit since the church wanted him not knowing that Frank has ulterior motive against him. Frank, Ogbonna Igboke and one Oliver belong to the same clique. The one that pained me most is Oliver who could not protect the interest of my husband, his brother.
Narrating the incident leading to the death of her husband further, she said: “When we came back from church that day, there was one of our elders’ wives who has been very ill for long and has not been coming to the church. She happened to be the president of the women group while I am the secretary.
‘‘On that fateful day, after church service, the women executives went and visited the woman. After praying with her, our men counterpart agreed to also visit the woman in the evening. When we came back, my husband’s phone rang around 4pm and it was one of those that were given position too on that day in our church, his friend, Engr. Kingsley Nnabuko, who called him and told him it was time for them to visit the woman.
“When he received the call, I was unhappy because we just came back. Even when we came back, my husband was outside and had not entered the house when he was called. He was outside playing with the children because he was a very jovial person who liked playing with kids.
‘‘So, I wasn’t happy that he had not even relax before he was called for the visit. When he saw the expression on my face, he asked if I didn’t want him to go and visit the woman. But I couldn’t stop him. He went and I didn’t know that was the last time I would see him.
A wife’s cry for justice
“I want the killers of my husband to be brought to book. I want the government to look into the matter and come to my aid because my husband’s murder has affected me a lot. His death has affected many lives, it was my husband that knew the kind of drugs my sick mother and father take. Nobody knows the drugs they take. He prescribed and bought the drugs for them.
“What will I tell my children who won’t sleep in the night until he arrived home? My last baby was used to sleeping on his tummy. I know how it has been in the last few days. I am still in school and he was the one sponsoring my education. They just terminated my husband’s life. He had a bright future, he had acquired many certificates and still pursuing his education. He had just finished a course and was only waiting to collect his certificate before he was killed. I am calling on government to do something, let them not keep quiet. Justice must prevail over my husband’s death.
I don’t know where to start from without my husband
For Mrs. Ukwa, it is as if life has come to an end as she lamented that: “I don’t know where to start because the vacuum he left cannot be filled by anybody. Is it my daughter who has just written her common entrance examination and who is supposed to be admitted into secondary school by September? I don’t know where to start and where to end”.
It is a big blow to my family
On his part, the deceased younger brother, Emeka Ukwa, who is very devastated, said his aged mother and father depended on his brother for survival and that he was praying fervently to God to help him and make their parents to bear the fortitude of his death.
He described the deceased as a hardworking, caring young man who was killed by suspected members of his church.
He said: “My brother was still a very young man. He didn’t deserve to die like this.
“I was sleeping in the midnight when my phone rang and the person that called me on the phone was from our village. He said that a member of the state vigilante group, Neighborhood Watch, called him and said that they saw a corpse at Haraca Filling Station side and that an identity card of the person found with him bears Ukwa Monday.
“Before I could get there, his corpse had been taken away by the police. But the policemen that came and took his corpse came back to take his car to the police station. I then followed them.
“Why my brother’s death is devastating is that my father is very old, my mother is also very old and he was the one that was taking care of them because he worked in the hospital. I don’t know where to get the cards and other documents my father and my mother use for their medical attention.
“I am even praying God to help me not to bury three corpses at the same time because I don’t think my father and my mother can endure the death of my brother. His death has devastated my father and my mother and I am praying God to help them endure.”
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