Chioma is the wife of an Independent National Election Commission employee, Duruoha Joel, who disappeared in September and was later found dead after he was allegedly killed by a gang of armed robbers in the Awka North local government area in the state of Anambra. She narrates his terrible experiences to IKENNA OBIANERI
Tell us more about yourself.
I am 28 years old. I am from Umuchu in the Aguata Local Government Area of Anambra State. I am an applicant and a trainee. I am married to Joel Duruoha but unfortunately he is late now. Before the sad incident of my husband’s death, we lived together in Ifite Awka in Anambra State.
How old was your late husband?
He was 43 years old. I was shocked to hear the sad news of my husband’s death and at this time, I still haven’t recovered from the shock and I don’t think he can recover me. Hopefully one day I can wake up from this nightmare.
Can you remember the day he disappeared?
I can’t remember the day in particular, but it was at the end of September. That fateful day, she left the house to go to work and did not return home. A few days before receiving the sad news of his death, I informed his colleagues and the office (INEC) that he was not returning to his house since he went out to work and was later declared missing. After a few days, around midnight of that fateful day, someone called me on the phone and informed me that they saw my husband’s photo on social media and that his body was found on a road. I told him to send me the photo to be sure, and when he did, it really was my husband’s photo. I just couldn’t describe how I felt at that moment. That night was the most terrible moment of my life; I started making calls here and there, running up and down.
Was that the first moment you heard the news?
Yes, it was the first moment.
Who was the woman who informed you?
She is an old friend. It had been a long time since we communicated, but on that particular night, she said that immediately after seeing the post and photo of my husband flying on social media, she quickly recognized it was him and decided to call me to check.
When her disappearance was initially announced, what was happening to you in that period?
Yes, when his disappearance was announced, everyone, including his colleagues, started looking for him. His phone line was down; no one was able to contact him until the news of his death that night reached me. That was a few days after he was declared missing.
How many days later?
I don’t remember how many days precisely because a lot was going through my head and I wasn’t in the right frame of mind; the trauma was too much.
What was the last moment you had together?
That morning before he left for work, as he usually did, he hugged and kissed me and told me to try to get home in time to prepare his favorite meal that he was going to be very busy at work that day; it was during continuous voter registration and he was always very busy at work during those periods.
How was his body discovered?
He was found by the roadside in the community of Isuaniocha in the North Awka Local Government Area. The police found it. According to what they said, a woman who was going to her farm that morning saw the corpse on the side of the road and began to scream; The people in the area alerted the community police, who took the body to the morgue. It was in the morgue that one of the assistants recognized him and told them that he was an INEC employee. So the police immediately contacted the INEC office in Awka and the people there contacted my brother-in-law. Nobody was happy about it. We were all very sad at that time. It was very unfortunate.
Last Friday, the police detained and paraded his suspected killers and were also present when the suspects narrated how he was killed. How did you feel when you saw them confess to the crime?
I couldn’t believe that such young people would take the life of a human being just because they wanted to take away their vehicle. It was a hard blow for me to see the faces of those guys, who are in their twenties. They could have taken the vehicle from him and kept him alive for his family. It’s so terrible and pathetic. They said that they hired him to use their shuttle bus to take them to Urum from Ifite, but that their intention was to steal his bus, and that later on the Urum/Isuaniocha road they strangled him, threw his body in a nearby bush and the bus took it . Thereafter, they drove the vehicle to Enugu. Where do they want to sell it? But detectives from the state Criminal and Investigation Department were able to arrest the suspects in Enugu and recovered the bus.
Was the stolen vehicle your husband’s?
He bought it in February of this year to facilitate his movement to and from work and for other movements.
Did you also use it for commercial purposes?
It wasn’t really for commercial transportation, but basically for ease of movement.
Has the vehicle been recovered?
Police found the vehicle in Enugu but said the engine was damaged.
How do you want your alleged killers treated or can you muster the courage to forgive them?
It’s hard to forgive such a thing. May they face the full wrath of the law for having the mind to take the life of a fellow man in gruesome ways. This will also serve as a deterrent to others.
How did you know that the suspects would be paraded by the police?
The investigating policeman called me that morning and told me that the Police Commissioner would be revealing the alleged murderers of my husband and that I should approach the state IDRC. So, that’s how I got there.
Have there been any further developments since the suspects paraded?
The police said they were going to charge them in court.
Can you recall the role your employer has played since your husband was killed?
After he was declared missing, his employer, INEC, sent a message from Abuja saying they would have to start investigations into his case immediately. It was a few days later that his body was found along the road.
Were you working with INEC before you met and when did you start working there?
Yes. I was already working there before I met him. I don’t know the exact time she started the job, but I know she had been there for a long time.
Did INEC contact you or family members in any way?
We haven’t heard from them, though they also played a key role in making sure the killers were found. But they still have to communicate with us in terms of anything else.
Can you describe what your life has been like since your husband was murdered?
My life has been shattered. It has been so terrible. My late husband was everything to me. I haven’t been myself since the incident. I feel very bad inside myself, I have not been thinking normally. The pain is too much for me right now. My friend, who lives in Awka, had to come pick me up so she could monitor me and I am currently staying with her. She has been the one who has attended me. I have five siblings, three girls and two boys. My parents are in our hometown; they are still in shock and disbelief.
How did you meet and when did you get married?
We met at a friend’s wedding in Onitsha in 2019 and got married in October 2020, but did not have a child before his unfortunate death.
Where was he from?
He was from Isiala-Mbano in Imo State.
How would you describe your late husband?
He was a good man with a good heart. A complete family man, good with his people and with everyone around him; everyone knew he was a good man. I miss his tenderness, caring and charming character of him. He was a good man through and through.
What were the memorable moments you spent together?
My heart is bleeding as I am speaking right now. The mirror of my life has been broken into pieces and cannot be repaired. We share many good memories. How do I start mentioning it and where do I start? He not only showed me love, but he also showed it to each of my family members. Please, as I speak, I feel as if my heart is being pierced by a sword. This is the saddest moment of my life. The shock is too much and I have not recovered from it. I don’t know how I’ll get out of this. it’s very terrible. I also ask people not to abandon me during this trial period, because I don’t know what to do next.
Has your husband been buried?
No. We are still making arrangements. The police told us to do an autopsy, which they said would cost 300,000 naira. We told them we didn’t have such amount and they said we should do an autopsy, which they said would cost N50,000. The family members ran, collected the money and had an autopsy, after which they handed over his corpse to us for transfer to his hometown on Saturday (November 26, 2022). I will go (to his hometown) when the burial has been arranged.
What is your next course of action?
I don’t know. I have no job. My husband is dead. I’m confused. Right now, I’m not thinking straight and right now, I can’t say my next course of action after this. Only God knows.
You said you were an apprentice and an aspirant…
Yes, I am an applicant and also a trainee. I studied Accounting Education at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, graduating in 2017, completing my national youth service in 2019 and have been looking for a job to no avail. When I got married, the job search continued and when there were none, about three months ago, my late husband decided to enroll me in a tailoring institute in Awka, where I became an apprentice, learning fashion design in the hope of making a career. in it, as white-collar jobs have become elusive.
But now, that effort has been cut short. Right now I don’t even have money to continue transporting myself to the institute. My friend, who has been accommodating me, has been helping me with what little she can, and even she is tired. My friend picked me up to stay with her to monitor me, because being in the residence where my late husband and I were staying kept bringing back memories that may lead me to do something else. I’m worried about my late husband’s burial arrangements and I’m also struggling with a lot of things right now. I can’t be alone right now.
So, it hasn’t been easy since my husband’s unfortunate death and I don’t know what the future holds for me right now. I want to take this opportunity to call on people not to abandon me at this time. I am helpless; It seems that the world is falling on me. i just need help