Monday, February 24, 2014

[Barbaric]: FEMALE LAWYER BATTERED TO DEATH, BODY DUMPED IN BATHTUB

For the Ekene-Micah family of Umuagwuruihe village, Amauzari in Isiala Mbano Local Government Area of Imo State, these are, certainly, not the best of times. An unkind fate, like a bull in a china shop, recently attacked the family in a devastating manner, turning its fortune inside out, upside down.  Indeed, for five months now, the family has been wallowing in grief, sorrow and agony. In a manner of speaking, the family has been bedridden since October 4, last year.

The family sank into the depths of despair, following the brutal killing of their beloved, Barrister (Mrs.) Agatha Ifeoma Ekene-Micah (nee Eluma) by yet to be identified persons in her office at 58B, Usuma Street, off Gana Street, Maitama, Abuja, on Friday, October 4, 2013. Until her death, she was a partner in Micah and Micah Chambers, a law firm she established with her husband. A mother of five children aged between six and 15, her young children are in confusion. The first two, aged 15 and 13, respectively, are thoroughly devastated. The case of the eldest child is even worse because she saw her mother’s brutalised body in the bathtub where it was dumped by her killers.

The woman:

Ekene-Micah lived in the United Kingdom for 23 years. There, she read law and became a Solicitor and Advocate of the Supreme Court of England and Wales. Her love for her fatherland made her to return to Nigeria where she attended the Nigeria Law School (NLS) in Abuja and was called to the Nigerian Bar in 2012. Her Nigerian-born British husband, an immigration attorney, also returned home, attended the NLS and was called to the Nigerian Bar. Together, they formed Micah and Micah Chambers. Their five children, all British citizens, also joined their parents in Nigeria. It was also learnt that the Micahs also encouraged over 300 of their compatriots, who are lawyers resident in the UK to come back home.

When death came:

If the Ekene-Micah family had a premonition of what was to come that fateful day, no one could tell. But what one can tell is that the joy and happiness that defined the family has been shattered. While all was well, theirs was a very closely knit family. Ifeoma and her husband were bosom friends, so they were forever on honeymoon. And the lovely children were the icing on their cake of love. Now, all can never be the same again.

The chilling story of her killing brings tears to the eyes. According to the family’s lawyer, Chief Jude Eluma: “She was dastardly killed in her office on Friday, October 4, 2013 by wicked persons, who regrettably may be Nigerians. She was lured to her office by a hoax call from a certain caller (who is suspected to be one of her killers), who called her on phone and falsely alerted her that there was a water spillage/leakage from her office upstairs, flooding another office downstairs. She rushed to control the purported leakage where she was killed right inside her office.”

He added: “On Sunday, October 6, 2013, her lifeless body was discovered in her pool of blood, in a terrible state, her legs tied together with a rope, her body badly tortured and mutilated, among other assaults. She was only 38 years, with five young children. The bar of man’s inhumanity to man was raised to the highest pedestal by her killers, who, after torturing, assaulting and killing her, had to carry and dump her body in a bathtub in her office, in a most despicable and humiliating manner. Her killers thereafter locked up her remains in the office and escaped with her car and other belongings.”

It was gathered that she spoke briefly on phone with her husband just before she was killed. He had called her and she said: “Please, I will get back to you soon.” But she never did. Her assailants made sure she did not.

It was also learnt that it was her husband, who discovered her body in the office two days after she was killed. While searching for her when she did not return home, he went to the office and opened it with the spare key. And he was knocked off by what he saw: His wife, who was bubbling with life the last time they were together, had been battered to death. It was, indeed, a horrible sight, the stuff horror movies are made of.

Among other injuries, they there was a deep cut at the back of her head, suggesting that she was hit with a strong object by her attackers, who were probably hiding in her office when she stepped in. While torturing her, they tied her legs with twine rope, the type used by plumbers. Her killers, who had zoomed off with her car, a Mercury Mountain AWD Sports Utility Vehicle, with Registration No: CY 284 FST, later abandoned it. But among other things, they made away with her computer.

Who killed her?

For now, her killers remain unknown, but there are indications that it was a well planned and executed job. Perhaps, her handset, which was found in a corner of the office could provide the answer to the puzzle. There are indications that the killers had inside information. Take this: The Sun investigation revealed that there was what seemed like a pre-assault coordinated calls between October 1 and 4. A certain telephone number called her every day for the last four days of her life. In fact, that telephone number allegedly called her few hours before she died. The number allegedly belongs to an artisan (names withheld), who used to do maintenance work for her.

The suspect was tricked to a popular eatery in Abuja where he was arrested on October 8 by policemen. Investigations revealed that a bait, in form of a contract, was thrown at him through an acquaintance and when he came to grab it, he was nabbed.  In the course of interrogation, he admitted knowing the deceased. In fact, he allegedly described her as a nice and generous person, who had assisted him on some occasions.

But the tale began to twist when the suspect allegedly claimed, during the interrogation, that the last time he called the deceased on her phone was over one month prior to her death. Yet, her call log showed that, that number had called her the day she was killed. And the suspect had stuck to his gun ever since.

The inevitable posers are; did the suspect actually kill the lawyer? If he did, what was the motive? Could he have done it alone? Who were his fellow conspirators if any? And if he didn’t know anything about her killing, why was he allegedly lying that he didn’t call her on the day she died, even as her call log showed otherwise? Could he have led her to her killers, considering that his number called her every of the last four days she lived?

Or was Mrs. Ekene-Micah a victim of a transaction gone awry? Was she a victim of a syndicate, which specialises in swindling unsuspecting members of the public by advertising and selling non-existing lands to them in Abuja? For instance, it was gathered that she might have been involved in some land deals in Abuja whereby she lost some money and threatened to drag the land speculators to court because the plot showed to her and on which she had expended some money, trying to verify, was different from what’s on the plan.

Appeal:

Meanwhile, the family has appealed to President Goodluck Jonathan to intervene so that the perpetrators of the dastardly act will not go unpunished. “It is with the highest sense of humility that we write you this letter and humbly request that you use your position not only as the president and Commander- in Chief, but also as the father who provides security to his children, to act swiftly in this matter,” the family said.

Specifically, the family urged President Jonathan to: “to order relevant agencies of government, particularly the respected Inspector General of Police to further order full and more comprehensive investigation into this matter which will lead to a clinical finish that will serve the end of justice even to the dead that would no longer come back to life.”

Against the backdrop of the limitations of the investigative efforts of the police in terms of logistics, the family maintained that the president’s intervention is critical to, among other things, compel the telecoms network provider to release without further delay “the call details of Barr. (Mrs.) Ifeoma Ekene-Micah and all the telephone associated with and found in the deceased’s handset.”