Leaders of Obede Isiugwu in Igbo-Eze North Local Government Area of Enugu State have accused their traditional ruler, Fabian Eke, of subjecting their people to a reign of terror since he ascended the throne.
They had in a petition to the Enugu State governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, alleged that Eke was responsible for nine verifiable deaths in their community.
Five of the murders were allegedly linked to persons behind the move of the Obede people to form an autonomous community separate from the umbrella Ugwuoji precinct.
The petitioners, who addressed themselves as members of the Obede General Assembly, said Eke had changed the security architecture of the community and installed Ikechukwu Omeje, a man of questionable character, to oversee the protection of life and property in the enclave.
Omeje had in turn, as they alleged, used his office to serve as a hit squad for the Igwe.
“He single-handedly projected Omeje as the head of security in Obede Isiugwu and as the Igwe’s errand soldier who goes about doing his master’s bidding. Upon the emergence of this new order in our community’s security architecture, strange things began to occur to the extent that people got killed and their bodies dismembered in the most bizarre and questionable circumstances,” an excerpt of the letter sent to Ugwuanyi read.
“The ritual killing/murders started at Obede Isiugwu in 2016 when four persons were gruesomely murdered, their blood tapped, sucked and collected with some vital organs missing. Their names are: Fidex Idoko, Ikechukwu Idoko, Christiana Amujiri Lydia and the last person was Virgina Ali, who was killed in February 2020.”
In an interview with SaharaReporters, Iyida Ejiofor, who would assume Igwe of the Obede community if their desire to break out of Ugwuoji is achieved, said the last victim was killed shortly after she had gone to different places of worship to speak against the activities of Eke and Omeje.
“The woman that died in February, she had gone to one or two churches and was saying that ‘the people that are killing people like these, it won’t be better for them.’ Next thing, they killed her,” Ejiofor said.
According to the general assembly, the secretary of the proposed autonomous community, Cletus Odo, is among five other persons allegedly murdered by Eke and Omeje.
“Besides the death of the afore-mentioned citizens of Obede Isiugwu Community through ritual killings, no fewer than five other members of the community have died in mysterious circumstances that defied explanation in recent time. These people before the untimely death, were front-liners in the agitation for the creation of the proposed autonomous community particularly Mr. Cletus Odo (a.k.a. Funky) who was acting as the secretary of the proposed autonomous community and Mr. Mathias Ugwuanyi,” the petition to the Enugu state governor wrote.
They said they have tried unsuccessfully to bring these deaths up for investigation.
Their efforts have been thwarted by the same pair, whom they claim have control of the police command in the area.
“Surprisingly when incidents of killing in the case of those who were murdered, were reported to the police, Igwe Fabian Eke would interfere with police investigation by trying to convince the police that such persons died of natural cause and would compel the families of such victims of questionable death to make similar statement to the police that the victims died naturally. How he was able to have his way with the police, each time such an incident of death occurred has remained inexplicable and most worrisome to us as a people,” they said.
Instances of killing and torture aside, the community leaders said that they have been maginalised, accusing the Igwe of sponsoring false claims against them.
In one instance, he reportedly petitioned the Department of State Services that Obede community was planning a tribal war.
“Among the treacherous indulgences of Igwe Fabian Eke was the sponsoring of a trumped up and frivolous petition founded on false information which was forwarded to the Department of State Service (DSS) and Ogunte Police Station, alleging that Obede community stopped Umuopu people from entering their place and that they were organizing a tribal war. The false allegation led to the arrest of four (4) persons at Obede but they were later released when the police and DSS found out that the allegation was false.”
The Obede community leader, Ejiofor, added that Eke rerouted a power project that would have connected the aggrieved area to the national grid.
He claimed that he gave Eke N400,000 for the erection of an electricity pole to rectify the problem and nothing has been done.
SaharaReporters reached out to two family members of some of the slain victims. One of them who responded, Christian Idoko, the brother of Ike Idoko, who was murdered in 2018, said no one in his family could authoritatively say the person that killed his brother.
Christian, who is based in Lagos, said he was not in the village when it happened.
“What I was told is this: he slept in the night, at daybreak no one saw him so they went into his house. They found out that some people attacked him with machetes. They tried to rush him to hospital but he was dead,” he said.
Christian maintained that Ike lived alone and no one saw the assailants come in or go out.
Responding to the allegations of insecurity and killings sponsored by him, Igwe Fabian Eke said via text that the allegations were “totally untrue.”
“Someone who wants to be Igwe in a non-existent community within Ugwuoji community is spreading unfounded rumour against me for no just cause. My community is in peace and the troublemakers are in a civil court in SUIT NO EZ/16/2020. Check out our statement of defence and counter at Enugu Ezike High Court over that matter and your story will be complete. Thank you for hearing from me,” he said.
The reporter tried further to have a conversation with Igwe to ascertain the specific civil case in court but he said he was in a meeting and was unwilling to address a case already undergoing legal proceedings.
SaharaReporters learned that the case in question was related to one of the attacks allegedly linked to Omeje that the community was able to bring to a police station in Abia State.