Rape, murder of ‘a blessing’
EIGHTEEN year-old Ozavize Ogumah, a native of Igarra, Akoko-Edo Local Council of Edo State was a Junior Secondary School student at Comprehensive High School, Igarra. After school, Ozavize was known to help her parents in several ways increase her family income, among which was to hawk cooked maize around the neighbourhood. She was said to have gone out on one of such efforts the previous Friday and did not return.
Speculations as to her whereabouts had included that the, good natured girl may have eloped with a man. But that was not the case. Her decomposing body was discovered in a shallow grave three days later. As the tears of rage fell and men, women and children expressed shock over what befell the girl, suspicion fell on one Topa Williams, who was recently released from prison by the Edo State Chief Judge. He is believed to have lured Ozavize into his house, then raped and killed her. Recounting their ordeal to reporters in their modest home, the girl’s parents, Sunday and Esther Ogumah said: “The girl was a blessing to us. She was very industrious in domestic work.” Ozavize was said to have arrived from her school’s graduation ceremony at about 2pm that fateful Friday, ate and told her mother some moments later that she was off for her daily hawking of cooked maize. When night fell and she did not come back home, her troubled mother reported to the head of Anona family; Chief J. M. Akpeji who advised them to report the case at the Igarra Police Station. The next day, the news of the missing girl spread and a worried community began an intense investigation into the girl’s movement, the previous day.
By Sunday, information came that a voice was heard screaming for help at No. 19, Anglican Mission Road, which belongs to the Williams’ that Friday evening.
Youths, led by Chairman of the Neighbourhood Watch in Akoko-Edo, Laja Amune, searched the one-storey mud house where one Mr. Topa Williams lives and found the plastic bowl in which the girl carried her corn.
The discovery led to the search for Topa, who lived alone in the house but he was nowhere to be found, which increased tension in the community.
On Monday morning a woman who went into a nearby bush, perceived an awful odour and on close examination of the surroundings, found the remains in a freshly dug soil. She called the youths who exhumed the body and found it was Ozavize.
The shallow grave was less than one foot deep.
The girl’s legs were inside a bag while the cloth-pad she used in carrying the plastic bowl on her head was used to cover her face.
The decomposing body was taken by the youths and police to a morgue.
The medical officer of Igarra General Hospital, Dr. Eruanga Bello who conducted the post mortem examination on the body said:
“It appears she was severely beaten and hit on the head with an object. She had a fracture on the base of the skull and she bled through the nose, ear and mouth which possibly led to her death. However, there was no cut on any part of the body .”
The police in Igarra has since swung into action arresting, Omeiza Williams, a commercial motor cycle rider and elder brother of the suspected killer, Sunday Seriki and his girlfriend, identified as Joy Mayaki and another person simply identified as Anode.
The Divisional Police Officer in Igarra, Mr. Paul Morakinyo who declined to comment on the suspected case of Homicide directed enquiries to the State Police Command where the spokesperson, Peter Ogboi (ASP) confirmed the incident but said they were closing in on the suspect and that he would be brought to justice.
“The suspect has not been arrested but we are very much closing in on him.
“We have information right now that he may have run to the north but we are reaching out to our colleagues in the north and we are also going to get his photograph and then publicly declare him wanted.?
“As for his family members that you said are with the police, here, we don’t arrest by proxy but the crime was committed in a building which is supposed to be a family house.
“So, they would need to explain certain things to the police, such as why they did not report the incident to the police.
They should also tell us what they know about the incident. But we are also looking into their arrest”.
Commenting on the incident, Chief Akpeji said it was the first of its kind in Igarra.
He described it as “barbaric, callous, brutal, inhuman and it should be condemned in its entirety” He also implored government to spread its dragnet to fish out the culprits.
“I wish to advise our youths to shun vices capable of ruining their lives and rendering them useless for life. Parents and guardians should always monitor their children and wards from their peer groups that could lure them into crime”, he said.
A community leader, Chief Aigboje Emah observed that the police in the area may not be efficient enough and that this has killed the zeal and enthusiasm of the people to give them useful information.
He lamented that he had once seen the fleeing suspect with a gun which he promptly reported to the police but that no action was taken.
Corroborating Emah’s views, Chief Okomayin Suru Akpata expressed surprise over Topa’s re-appearance in the town as he was long assumed dead.
According to him, “Topa Williams is a notorious criminal who has committed heinous crimes in Igarra and other places.
“We view this killing as irritating and a further confirmation of the little value for human life in Nigeria.
“From all available information, the girl was neither a girl friend nor a lover of Topa Williams. She was selling her legitimate source of income for the family and Topa must have called her to patronize her”.
But everyone is waiting anxiously for answers to questions begging for answer, such as what really happened especially those three days before the body was found or even before Topa Williams absconded on Sunday morning.