“They murdered him; they murdered sleep!” These were the actual words of Reverend Father Andrew Ezeogo of Holy Rosary Catholic Parish, Okposi, as he began his homily at the funeral mass for Samuel Ogbonnaya Ugwu, popularly known as Spaco, at Mgbom Central School, Obiagu Mgbom, Okposi, in Ohaozara Local Government Area, Ebonyi State.
An atmosphere of pain, agony, sorrow and despondency pervaded the whole community especially the venue of the burial mass. In fact, the solemnity was so palpable that once the priest made the declaration, the crowd responded in unison, “Yes, they murdered him,” and tears flowed freely.
Fr. Ezeogo started by quoting a famous theologian who urged people not to console where there is no consolation, noting: “If we all do what we are supposed to do, we would not be here looking for consolation.”
He blamed the government for not paying attention to the security of the people. Recalling that several premeditated deaths had occurred in Okposiland and three of them in the same precinct of Court Area within five months, the priest said government armed the youths in the name of Ebubeagu Security Network and politics.
“Our government must as a matter of urgency begin a process of recovering the arms in the hands of our youths and genuinely provide security for our people,” Fr. Ezeogo said.
There was sobbing at the venue, even as the priest urged the people to weep no more because Ugwu did not die in vain. Noting that the assassination of the councillor was one murder too many, he declared that his killers must be exposed.
Hon. Ogbonnaya Ugwu, 48, was a brilliant, vibrant and promising illustrious son of Mgbom N’Achara Autonomous Community, who was gruesomely murdered by assassins on March 11. He was also the deputy chief whip of Ohaozara LG legislative council.
Daily Sun learnt that, in October 2022, gunmen killed an Ebubeagu operative known as Joseph Nwanja (aka Ogonogo Mgbo), from the same community and at the same spot.
Also, on February 23, 2023, gunmen on a motorbike struck in the Court Area of Okposi, and killed a popular bread seller known as Ogbo Educated.
So, as early as 7am on Friday, May 5, youths, women and leaders of Okposi, especially his community, Mgbom N’Achara, trooped out in their numbers to honour one of their heroes who was cut down at his prime. In a solemn procession, bearing Ugwu’s remains in a beautiful casket, they marched from the Okposi General Hospital mortuary to Court Area, Okposi; a distance of about 2km. They encircled the very spot where Ugwu was killed at the roundabout, prayed; while women performed traditional rituals. They made solemn proclamations against the killers of the councillor; they placed curses and also asked him to go after anybody who had a hand in his death.
The procession then headed towards Okposi Achara, Ugwu’s ancestral village. Again, his remains were placed on the ground and the land of Okposi Achara was called upon to fight for one of its own.
As the motorcade moved from Okposi to Obiozara, the council headquarters, and to his Obiagu Mgbom village, people were seen weeping by the roadside and calling on the god of vengeance to act with speed.
At Obiozara, the Ohaozara Legislative Council held a valedictory session in honour of their departed colleague, after which they took the body to Mgbom Central School for his funeral service and interment.
Ugwu, a graduate of Linguistics from Abia State University, Uturu, also had a master’s degree in Business Administration from Delta State University, Abraka.
He was a very productive and community development-oriented young man who was famous for his passion for the unity and development of Okposi clan.
The day Ugwu was assassinated remains one of the darkest days in the history of Mgbom N’Achara Autonomous Community and indeed the entire Okposiland. It was a clear case of sunset at dawn for the people of the area.
The All Progressives Congress (APC) chieftain finished campaign tours that fateful evening ahead the March 18 governorship and House of Assembly election. He went to see his staff at his business premises, the popular Angle 90 Entertainment Spot, Okposi. He had not the slightest inkling that assailants were around the corner waiting for an opportunity to kill him for reasons nown to them alone. He was reportedly about entering his car when some gunmen, masked and unmasked, attempted to forcefully enter his car. But having sensed danger, he tried to zoom off. He was not lucky as they immediately opened fire and shot directly at him. With the bullets in him, he still struggled to speed off in an attempt to escape, but the assailants, determined to achieve their evil plans, pursued him until he ran into a hitch at a construction site near the Court Area Roundabout, where they rained bullets on him and went ahead to set his car ablaze. The wicked souls made sure that he was burnt together with his car. They stood and watched him go down with the flames before they escaped to an unknown destination.
Spaco was killed in the most despicable manner and in his homeland. His elder brother, Okezie Ugwu, an engineer and lecturer at Akanu Ibiam Federal Polytechnic, Unwana, Afikpo, Ebonyi State, told our correspondent that he was still in shock over the incident.
“I am yet to come to terms with the gruesome murder of my very dear brother. He was not only my brother, but we were very close, like friends. Only two of us are always in the village. We see ourselves every morning before going out, and before going to bed. That morning, just like every other day, we greeted, cracked jokes and hailed ourselves, hoping to see again in the evening, and he left for their political campaigns. But he never returned.
“After the campaigns, which took them to various electoral wards to solicit votes for the candidates of their party, APC, for the March 18 governorship and House of Assembly elections, Spaco went to see his staff at his business premises around Court Area, but he didn’t know that assassins were lurking around looking for any opportunity to kill him. And they succeeded in killing him in a very brutal manner.”
He lamented the spate of killings in Okposi, noting that his late brother was the third to be killed in mysterious circumstances within the period.
Okezie said: “We are alarmed at the level of assassinations and killings going on in Okposi. My brother was the third person to be killed in this manner in Okposi. All the three persons were killed within the Court Area Roundabout. The first was a young man who was a member of Ebubeagu security outfit; the second person was a businessman who was selling bread at the place who was said to be a member of APC. He was shot dead there.”
He appealed to government to take immediate action to tighten security in Okposi, adding that the entire community now lives in fear and apprehension every day.
“There is no time than now that the security architecture of the state needed to be reviewed. Emerging cities in the state such as Okposi and other towns should have well-fortified security formations capable of effectively protecting the people and their property,” he said.
Wife of the deceased, Caroline Ugwu, said the merchants of death did not consider what would become of her and their only son, before doing their worst.
“My husband was not a trouble-maker. I don’t know him like that. What did he do to the people that killed him? What will I do now, with this my son? How can I live without my husband (sobbing)?
“Where will I start from? How can I continue this journey of life without him? It saddens me that his life was cut short by unknown persons. I rest my case with God almighty to fight the battle,” she lamented.
Chairman of Ohaozara Local Government Area, Ajah Chinonso, in his condolence message to the family, described the late Ugwu as a God-fearing gentleman who loved his community and did not deserve to die the way he died.
The council boss said: “He was a God-fearing father, peace maker, strong pillar of his community and a disciplinarian who would be missed by those whose lives he affected in positive ways.
“We pray the good Lord to grant the entire family the fortitude to bear his loss.
‘On behalf of the Ohaozara Local Government Council, we extend our profound sympathy and sincere condolences to the entire family.”
In the community’s tribute, Mgbom N’ Achara Development Union (MADU) said the deceased was a youth mobilizer, motivator and epitome of wisdom.
“Our dear brother, the good people of Mgbom N’ Achara autonomous community, friends and associates, are gathered here in their numbers today 5th May 2023, to bid your mortal body farewell. We pray that your murderers will know no peace. Anyone who has a hand in it, who conspired to carry out such heinous act against you and humanity, those who executed that evil act, shall die unburied. Let the God of vengeance have His way in your death,” President-General of the union, Dr. Johnson Odii said.
Also, leader of Ohaozara Local Government Legislative Council, Evo Okechukwu, paid glowing tribute to his departed colleague, describing him as a hardworking and industrious young man who believed in ‘second address.’
“He was a God-fearing man and the greatness he attained before his death was built on Godly principles. He will always be remembered for his good lifestyle,” he said.
Like others, Evo said that the perpetrators of the heinous act would not go unpunished even as he called on Spaco to pursue and avenge his death.
Amid wailing and sorrow, his remains and laudable dreams were interred at the family compound of Onyiba Ugwu Nwanja at Enu-Ngene, Obiagu Mgbom Okposi