Kidnapped/Murdered Ubulu-Uku King: Slow Wheel Of Justice
By Tony Eluemunor
How would somebody who had escaped from kidnappers who had threatened to kill him feel when he later gets to face the suspected kidnappers in court? This is especially so when one of the two persons kidnapped at the same time and place and had received the same inhumane treatment, suffered from thirst and hunger as they spent days and nights under the open skies inside the bush, during a particularly harsh harmattan weather, was killed by the kidnappers?
Then, the escapee, perhaps after hoping for, dreaming of, praying for such an outstanding opportunity suddenly gets it as he raised, his head, turned and faced a particular direction, raised his hand, stuck out his index finger, and announced for all to hear; yes, those people there were the very ones who kidnapped me and another person, took us through hell, gave us every torment that Satan ever devised, caused us every grief that has ever entered the human mind, even as we pleaded for mercy, not knowing that their mercy and all things akin to it was a stranger to them.
This scenario played out in a High Court in Delta State on Monday 25 January, 2021 as the wheel of justice has started grinding for the late King of Ubulu-Uku, His Royal Majesty Edward Akaeze Ofulue, the Obi Ofulue III and Pastor Afam Ugboh who is alive to tell their story. The saying that the wheel of justice grinds slowly but surely is proving true in this case.
Yes, on Monday, 25th of January, some of those suspected to have abducted and killed the King of Ubulu-Uku, Obi Ofulue III, were in court once again. But the court session was not reported by a single news outlet in Nigeria. Yet, that day’s session was important because Pastor Ugboh, who was abducted with the king but escaped by 3.30 pm two days later and arrived at an Mbiri village farm settlement by 9.30 pm, testified in court that those four persons arraigned in court that day were among those who kidnapped them. When the defendants’ lawyers tried to rubbish his testimony, pointing out that his police statement did not describe the suspects in detail as either fat or tin, tall or short, he replied that those who kidnapped them wore no face masks all through the ordeal they put him through, and that he knew the names they called themselves, so he knew them intimately. Thus, he ascribed certain actions to the relevant accused persons in court, and said that he had also identified the suspects during a parade the Police organised.
Actually, Pastor Ugboh had been hoping and praying for such a day. He had seen the faces of the suspects before. He had been called in a few times by the Police when the case was under investigation, and he identified the suspects who had nabbed him and the Obi Ofulue III. He had almost cried tears of blood when the chief demon among them was released because the other suspects were too afraid to point accusatory fingers at him to show that he was one of them. Or, the must have hoped that as long as he was free, their chances of walking away free citizens were rife. Thus, he was freed.
Yet, as a criminal remains a criminal, the freedom he enjoyed must have emboldened that fellow because, shortly after, he kidnapped a Pastor who happened to be high up in the Police hierarchy of Delta state. Instead of releasing the man to free himself from trouble, he collected the ransom he had demanded from the man’s family, and then killed the luckless man.
The must have infuriated the Delta unit of the Nigerian Police Force. They got the man all right and promised that he would have his day in court, to show like-minded others that crime will never pay in Delta state.
Now, wait for this; that man confessed he was involved in the kidnapping of the Obi of Ubulu and the pastor who escaped. And most terrifyingly, he narrated that after the success recorded in the kidnapping of the Obi of Ubulu and having murdered him, he had made the late Obi’s former domain, Ubulu-Uku, the centre of his theater of operations. Thus, he had camped the late husband of the Asaba-based Mobile Police woman right there at Ubulu-Uku, under the east-west high tension electricity power lines, at a spot near Isho quarters, Ubulu-Uku. Yes, the corpse of the man in question was recovered at the place he pinpointed. He also reportedly recounted how the high tension power lines route, have become the route of choice for the kidnappers.
It would have been great to hear such a fellow tell his devilish tales in court. Alas, the Police was in for a terrible shock; the man died while being held but before he had his day in court as he would have had to answer for two cases; the snatching of human beings he did in Asaba and Ubulu-Uku and how he treated h=them most in humanely and took their lives as those they were flies.
Why would a case that had so captivated the nation suddenly grow so cold that no news media was interested in it? Well, one reason is that five good years have elapsed since the kidnapping and murder. Then, the Covid-19 pandemic further poured cold water on the case as it went into abeyance for months. Also, the normal court where the case used to hold was in Asaba, but it was destroyed by hoodlums during the anti-SARS protests which rocked Nigeria last year.
When that case broke on Tuesday 5th January 2016, it was regarded as murder most foul. Yes, by 2016, that a traditional ruler of a major town could be kidnapped and slaughtered by suspected Fulani cattle herders or any group at all, was a devilish novelty. Even wanton kidnapping was just crawling into the country. So the news hit Nigeria like a slap on the face. Respectable sensitivities were scandalised everywhere and cries rose up from every corner, asking for justice to be brought swiftly on the criminals’ heads.
The late monarch, His Royal Majesty the late Obi Akaeze Edward Ofulue had wanted to go to Asaba, the Delta state capital and some persons, including his younger brother, Prince Nzekwue and were waiting for him at an agreed spot. But instead of going east as the crow flies, he turned west, because he wanted to drop off somebody at Onicha-Ugbo, then he would continue on his trip. That act of kindness was his last deed on Earth as he and the passenger he was giving a lift in his Land Cruiser off-road vehicle/ Full-size SUV, were abducted. The king was leaving Obior to enter the Benin-Asaba Expressway at Igbodo. The unassuming Obi was in his noted simplicity driving himself, and no guards drove ahead of, or behind, him. Those who knew him closely would have been aware of that easy-going nature of his. He was totally down to earth, and was the sort of Christian that never allowed accidents of birth or position in the society to interfere with the way of life he had embraced; remarkable simplicity. Nothing worried him unduly. Almost always, a smile played on his lips. Whether privately or in public, he preferred that to the grim visage most assume when they become kings. He was actually preparing to travel to the UK on a Friday but he was kidnapped on Tuesday, three days before his trip