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Saturday, 21 January 2017

Lilian Ndiukwu, a close relative of slain United States soldier, Chuks Okebata, narrated the horrific story of how the 35-year-old heavily-built soldier was killed in her hometown in Imo State (read here).

Speaking in an interview during the weekend, Lilian explained that the single incident has turned the town of Umuduruorie in Mbaitoli Local Government Area of Imo State into a ghost town as people fled for other places while those who stayed behind prefer to stay indoors.

She said:
"He loved everything about his hometown. Even though his mother conceived him in the US, he was actually given birth to in Nigeria and in fact lived the first 12 years of his life in the village with his elder sister before they all moved to the US. For this reason, he loved the village and always looked forward to visiting whenever he had the chance.

"He decided to complete and open his house last December so that it would be easier for him to visit home more often. The ceremony of December 26 was a big feast; everybody was happy and had a great time. But we never knew that in a matter of days, our joy would turn into mourning.

"Initially moving with armed escorts in his first few days in the country especially before his white friends travelled back to the US on December 29, Okebata felt there was no need to carry on with that since he had no score to settle with anyone and even had his own service pistol on him as well. Even though his mother, who also came home for the Yuletide, warned him against moving about freely on his own, the 35-year-old felt at home and saw no need for that.

"The assailants came shooting sporadically in front of his house to scare people away. They later went to wait for him at the junction leading to his house. When they saw him, they ordered him to come down from his car. They accused him of being into illegal business. He quickly identified himself as US Army personnel and even showed them his service pistol. At that point they had collected his phones and that of our sisters, who were with him. They ordered the ladies to lie down in the car.

"It was after a while that my brother noticed they were assassins. He pleaded with them to spare his life that he was going to give them any amount they wanted. They refused and told him to go into the boot of their car. They drove out to a junction, close to a spot where caskets are produced and sold before shooting him on the head several times. His entire body was riddled with bullets.

"Everybody is still in shock. People are afraid to go out for too long. In fact these days, people run into their houses even before 6pm for fear of being attacked by criminals. Our village used to be a very lively place especially at this time of the year but the incident has spread fear and made the place look like a ghost town. A lot of people have moved to neighbouring towns at the moment.

"Once, he saw a picture of me visiting the less privileged, he got across to me and told me that he would also love to donate to the needy and in fact establish a charity organisation when he came home for the Yuletide. We were all happy and looking forward to that moment before he was killed.

"Chuks liked helping people, he has assisted a lot of people in our community and even planned to do more this year before his life was cut short. His death is a big loss not just for us but for all those whose lives have been changed as a result of his assistance."
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