A Secretary to Special Works program in Afikpo South Local Government Area of Ebonyi state, Hon. Sylvia Ufiem-Nnachi, has called on the security agencies to carry out a professional investigation into the alleged abduction and murder of his 2-year-old daughter.
Recall that the body of Chinyere Rosemary Nnachi, was found floating in a river 48 hours after she went missing at a end-of-the-year party she attended with her parents at a club in Nnodo community on Saturday, December 12.
In an interview with PUNCH, 44-year-old Nnachi from Eke village, Ekoli Edda community in the Afikpo South Local Government Area of Ebonyi State, narrated the circumstances leading to the disappearance and death of his daughter.
The distraught father also narrated how a particular member of the club prevented security men and members of the Ebonyi State Neighbourhood Watch from conducting a search at the party venue. Read his interview below:
My daughter was abducted on Saturday, December 12, 2020 and was later found dead in the river on Monday afternoon. She was abducted at a party, which all of us, including her two elderly siblings and her younger sister attended at Nnodo in the Ebonyi Local Government Area of the state. The abduction happened between 6pm and 7pm. Rosemary was two years and five months before she was abducted and killed. The programme had ended and it was during the closing prayer that she was abducted,” he said.
Everybody stood up for prayer, only for us to end the prayer and it was discovered that the little girl was missing. Of course, as were standing and praying, the height of older people, who were standing in front, covered the children, who were behind them. It could be at the time when we were praying that the abductor came in from behind and took her away. So, as we finished praying, we couldn’t see her again and we started looking for her.
“The most unfortunate aspect of it all is that while the search was going on, a member of the club, who also attended the party, was busy distracting and disrupting the search party. This particular member of the club was busy distracting those who were searching for my daughter to the extent that he engaged me in a fight and bit off my left ear. You can see that my left ear is off now.
As a result, he ended up distracting those who were looking for the girl. What was my offence? My offence was that security men and members of the Ebonyi State Neighbourhood Watch approached the venue to search for my daughter, but the man insisted that they must not conduct the search because a preliminary search had been done and there was no point doing the same again.
He insisted that the search must not take place. As the father of the missing girl, I protested and said he had no right to stop the security men. He said I shouted at him and engaged me in a fight. And I told him that what he was doing was discouraging and disturbing the people and that I wanted my little daughter back. I told him to allow the security men to do their job; but he felt otherwise and slapped me and engaged me in a fight to the extent of biting off my left ear. As expected, the team couldn’t continue the search because of the scene he had created. They arrested him, took every one of us to the police station and we made our statements. I left the police station around 1am on Sunday.
What do you think could have pushed this member of your club to engage you in a fight to a point of biting off your ear?
To be honest, I don’t know what pushed him to do it. I didn’t have a quarrel with any member of the club, including this particular man. I can’t figure it out, but I think it’s left for the security agencies to unravel the circumstances and truth surrounding the incident.
The name of the club is Club 12 Multi-purpose Society. It was at an end-of-the-year party of the club. However, the party wasn’t supposed to hold if the club members had heeded my advice. I remember that I advised them against this year’s party on two different occasions. I reminded them that we lost a member this year and we were just bereaved and this was in spite of the fact that we lost another member in 2019. One of our members died and was buried in October. I told them that we should cancel partying and merriment this year in honour of our member, who had just been buried. But the club members refused.
I went as far as making reference to our member, who died last year, and we had to cancel the end-of-the-year party for 2019 because of him. Now, losing another member this year, it was fair to cancel the party. Events of this year itself should teach people to be cautious. The year came with COVID-19, #EndSARS and other negative things. I told them that we needed to play safe. I never knew that the party I suggested shouldn’t hold, which eventually held, was targeted at my family, so much that my daughter was kidnapped and eventually killed. So, I think it’s also left for the security men to investigate this matter and unravel what really happened.
Did you have quarrels with anybody before the incident?
I can’t say I had quarrels with anybody. I didn’t and everybody knows me as a man of peace and justice. In fact, what people call me is Nwa Amuru Affia Enyioha (the great friend of all, who was born in the market). So, I couldn’t imagine having an issue with anybody that could warrant the abduction and eventual killing of my daughter.
Where did this ugly incident take place?
Where we had this party is called Obeagu Aba village, Nnodo community, in the Afikpo South Local Government Area of Ebonyi State. It was in the compound of one of our members, who insisted on hosting this year’s party, because he just finished building the house. This really was against the rule of the house, because we normally hold our events in public places. The last time we held the event, it was held at the cooperative hall of the Alex Ekwueme Federal University Teaching Hospital, Abakaliki.
Before setting out for the party, did you have any premonition that something untoward might happen?
Yes, it could be that I wasn’t too sensitive to understand the signs God was showing me. I was actually out of Abakaliki three days before the party was held. But because it was an instruction by the club leadership that we had a function and that everybody must attend with their families, I left where I was and started coming to Abakaliki on Friday. As I set out for the journey, the vehicle I boarded had a punctured tyre around 7pm. We got it fixed and got to the new Timber Shade, the one before the Military Cantonment, when the second back tyre on the passengers’ side also got flattened. I got to my house around midnight. I think that was a sign.
Then, the following morning, I rushed to the mechanic to ensure that I picked my car from him so that I could take my family to the party, but the mechanic wasn’t through with the car. I had to take a sister’s car to the event. So, I had these signs that God showed me, but I was not sensitive. In the course of this year, I had this dream that one of my daughters was missing. When I woke up, I told my wife about it, and we prayed. However, we prayed and I ignored it, not knowing that it was something that would take place in the future. As I was driving to the venue of the party, the distance alone should have made me discontinue the journey and turn back home. But I was not sensitive enough.
Do you condemn yourself for being insensitive?
I actually do not condemn myself. I did say I was careless for not heeding these signs that God was showing me before the incident. I should have paused a bit and ponder over these signs and be a little more watchful and careful. So, that’s it.
Have the club members visited you since the incident?
No, they have not. This incident happened Saturday and from that Saturday till Monday (December 14), when the baby was discovered to have died and found floating on the river and the body was deposited in the mortuary, the club members have not visited me or my wife.
Are you suspecting a conspiracy?
It may not be out of it. I think there is conspiracy in one way or the other. This is because in this tragic incident involving a member of this club, members should have rallied round the bereaved family; even if the men are not disposed, their wives should have come to be with my wife. But it has not happened in this case. And even when a member fought me and bit off my ear and the police arrested him, somebody was busy making sure he was released. A man’s child got missing, a search team came and wanted to help to look for the baby, and someone said they must not do that and in the process bit off my ear. This is another question that requires an answer and it points to conspiracy.
Who was Chinyere Rosemary to you?
Chinyere Rosemary was my second daughter. She was a little lovely baby. At her age, she was jovial and seeing her smile, anger or depression would leave you. As little as she was, she was the unifying one among her siblings. She was a girl who you would love to stay with. In fact, at the party, it was as if everybody wanted to play with her. It was as if she was the one being celebrated at the party. Jokingly, one of us said she was coming to pay her bride price on behalf of his son and when they grow, they could marry. In reply and jokingly too, I said my daughter would choose her man when she grew. That it is to tell you how people appreciated the girl.
What will you miss about her?
I want all my children to be with me. She was the closest to the last girl, who is some months old. She was my closest friend. I will miss everything about her. But then, it’s unfortunate and an insult to the authorities that the Commissioner for Internal Security and Border Peace would send a search team to look for a missing child, yet an ordinary civilian would order the security men and civilians that made up the search team not to embark on the search. It’s very painful and unfortunate. The commissioner was to join in the search party, but on getting there, he had a call and it could be a very important call and he instructed that the search should continue. But an ordinary individual upturned his instruction. This question too, will be answered in due course. The little girl could have been found had the search taken place, because the whole thing was still happening within the same vicinity.
Do you think you will ever recover from this?
I don’t think so. This is really too much for me. This is the second death that has kept me wondering and shivering. The first was the death of my mother, which left me so emotionally and psychologically crippled and again, Chinyere Rosemary’s death. This is too much to bear. I can’t recover from it. These two deaths are tragic for me. If God chooses to comfort me and my family, let Him do so.
What are you asking the authorities to do in this circumstance?
I trust the security architecture of this state, comprising the police, the DSS, the Army and others. I know that the police know how to do their job. This is an incident that is so ungodly, so inhuman and that is not a natural disaster, but man-made. Therefore, I want the security agencies to carry out professional investigation to see that justice is served in this matter. It is not about me or Chinyere Rosemary, it’s about forestalling similar incidents in future in the state. This is possible if the police and other security agencies deploy professionalism in their handling of this matter.