From Rose Ejembi, Makurdi
Shock, disbelief, confusion, anger and sorrow have continued to trail the cold-blooded murder of Mrs Eunice Aghanya, wife of Ibezimako Aghanya, Kogi State’s former Commissioner of Police (now retired). This is in spite of the arrest of a suspect by the Benue State Police Command, although investigation is still going on.
Mrs Aghanya, a woman whose husband said was bubbling with life when he visited her at their Makurdi residence, about a week ago, is now lying stone dead in a mortuary somewhere after she was hacked to death by unidentified assailants. Police report said she was found in her living room lying in a pool of her own blood, last Saturday, March 13.
How the news unfolded
The retired police boss, who lives and works in Lagos, narrated the sad incident to the state governor, Samuel Ortom,, who visited their family home on Monday, March 15, to sympathise with the family. He recalled that about noon on Friday, March 12, one of their daughters who was preparing for her wedding in April called her mother on her mobile phone. The mum asked the daughter to call back because she was driving to pick something from home.
According to him, their daughter later called again about 1pm. Her mother’s phone kept ringing but she didn’t pick her calls. She waited for sometime and called again but this time around her phone was switched off. And that marked the beginning of a journey into a nightmare from which the family is yet to wake up.
“When our daughter called to tell me this, I just laughed because I said no one can kidnap or harm my wife in Benue because she was born in Taraku town in Benue State and we have lived in Makurdi for 38 years,” Aghanya said.
But as their children kept calling he sent her a text message in which he jokingly said that if she had been kidnapped, she should tell her abductors that he was willing to pay. “All along, I thought she must have left her phone somewhere,” he confessed. But he suspected something more sinister to have happened when their neighbours started calling the following day, Saturday, to report that his wife’s car was parked outside the gate but she was nowhere to be found.
“I then told them to break the door to the house and look for her,” he recalled. “When they did, they saw her lying on the floor in the living room with her shoes on. By the time they got closer, they found out that she was dead from deep cuts on the back of her head.”
Aghanya, who wept profusely while narrating the tragedy to Ortom and other sympathisers, however, dismissed the talks about hired assassins being responsible for his wife’s horrendous death. He rather blamed it on burglars who he said she must have run into while they were operating in the house. He added that she probably recognised them, which was why they decided to silence her, to conceal their identities. “If it were an assassination, the assassins would not go to the person’s house in the afternoon to kill her with a knife, instead of a gun. Why would they want to assassinate her?”
Aghanya shares loving memories of his wife
Conducting the correspondent round the house, the retired CP showed us a room where the burglars broke through the ceiling to gain access into the house. He described his late wife as a very strong, down-to-earth but compassionate woman who lived all her life by meeting the needs of others.
“I used to say that we have two men in this house: my wife and I. I usually allow her to take decisions because her decisions were always right. If I was a successful police officer, she made it happen because she took complete charge of the home front so much that I never needed to be afraid.
“Apart from the first 504 Peugeot car that I bought with the police car loan, every other car I used she bought for me with her money and gave me. She never bothered me about anything in the house because she was a rich woman. The last time I visited, I told her that since all the children have now gone away to live somewhere and she was alone in the house, there was need for us to renovate the boys quarters and rent them out to as many youth corpers as possible so that there could be liveliness in the compound.” Asked why he chose to settle down in Benue, he replied: “I settled my family in Benue because it is a peaceful state; it still is, compared with other states.”
He added that the state has been good to his family all these years, noting that but for culture and tradition which demand that his wife’s body be taken home for burial, he would have liked to bury her right inside his compound in Makurdi. While talking about the police’s investigation into the murder, he expressed his belief that the law and its enforcement officers will not allow those behind his wife’s murder to go unpunished.
We need more police officers
While being conducted round the house by Aghanya, Ortom lamented the state of insecurity and the inadequacy of the number of policemen and women saddled with the duty of protecting the Nigerian populace. It is impossible for about 400,000 policemen to police over 200 million Nigerians, he argued and urged the Police Service Commission and the Inspector General of Police to quickly resolve their differences to ensure that more policemen are yearly recruited to meet the security need of the country.
“In the interim, let us all be our brothers’ keepers,” he said. “When we sleep, we should be alert in our neighbourhood and promptly report any suspicious movement.”
Bishop of Anglican Diocese, Makurdi, Bishop Nathan Iyom, offered prayers to God to comfort the family and give them fortitude to bear the irreplaceable loss.
We’ll bring perpetrators to book –Police
Meanwhile, the Benue State Police Command has confirmed the arrest of a suspect in connection with the murder. The State Commissioner of Police, Audu Madaki said in a statement issued in the state capital that the command had ordered a full-scale investigation into the case. The statement, signed by the police spokesperson, DSP Catherine Anene, explained how the deceased’s remains were discovered in her house on Saturday morning.
It read: “information was received on 13th March, 2021 at about 0930hrs that Chief Mrs Eunice Aghanya, wife to the ex-Commissioner of Police, Ibezimako Aghanya (rtd) who resides at Austin Iwar Street, off David Mark Bye-pass, Makurdi could not be seen by her co-chiefs who had planned to pay a courtesy call on a Royal Father in Makurdi.
“Police detectives who received this report swiftly moved to her house where she resides alone behind her bakery. Her car was seen parked in front of her gate and her fence broken into but her doors were locked. The team noticed bloodstains on the window of the deceased. They broke into the house where they found her lifeless body lying in a pool of her blood with a deep cut on the back of her head.
“While commiserating with CP Aghanya (rtd) and family members, CP. Audu Madaki has ordered a full-scale investigation to be carried out by detectives of the Command Criminal Investigation Department. He stated further that no stone would be left unturned in an attempt to apprehend the culprits. Her corpse has been deposited at Bishop Murray Medical Centre Morgue while one suspect has been arrested in connection with the case.”