Former member of the Enugu State House of Assembly, Chief Lucky Chukwu, tells RAPHAEL EDE how his elder brother, Oyibo Chukwu, who was the senatorial candidate of the Labour Party for Enugu East, was murdered
On February 22, your elder brother, who was then the senatorial candidate of the Labour Party for Enugu East, Oyibo Chukwu, was killed by unknown persons. How did you receive the news of his gruesome murder?
On February 22, we had fixed a zonal meeting for 7pm at Grace Court Hotel. He was to preside over that meeting because they (he and his team) went to campaign in Ugboka. They later moved from Ugboka to Agbani. After campaigning, when they got to the road leading to Amuri, which is our community, he stopped and said he wanted to go to the village to see how we were preparing because Chijioke Edeoga (the governorship candidate of Labour Party) was to visit Amuri the following day being Thursday.
On Wednesday night after campaigning, he (Oyibo) went to Agbani, supervised what they (organisers) were doing and left Amuri with his personal assistant, Sunday Igwesi. At the venue of the meeting he was supposed to preside, I was already seated when at about 9pm, a convoy of vehicles conveying House of Representatives and state House of Assembly candidates of the Labour Party came in. So, I told them we had not started and that they were not late for the meeting. I asked them about Owelle (Chief Oyibo), and they said he stopped on the way and said he was going to Amuri. I now called my younger sister who was equally at Amuri to supervise those cooking. I asked Adaeze when Owelle left Amuri, and she said it was over an hour. It is not up to an hour’s drive from our place to Enugu here.
So, while I was thinking of what to do, I started calling him on his line, but could not reach him. I called 10 times, but could still not reach him. I then called Sunday Igwesi, his personal assistant; I could not reach him either. I called Sunday Ngene, who for one reason or the other could not join them that day but it was the same thing. About two minutes later, Mr John Ede, a lawyer, said he had just received a call that a vehicle was burnt at Amechi Awkunanaw and that vehicle belonged to Ofor Chukwuegbo. I got up and asked some of the people around me if they were ready to follow me to Amechi Awkunanaw, the scene of the incident.
Why did those you asked to accompany you decline?
Apparently, they were afraid, and I asked my driver to turn the vehicle and take me to Amechi Awkunanaw, but he was equally afraid. So, when we got there and flashed some light, I saw the Toyota Sienna vehicle; one part of it was inside the gutter while the other was on the main road but burnt beyond recognition. So, I used the torch of my mobile phone and decided to go round for confirmation. At the back of the boot, I saw an inscription, ‘Vote for Oyibo Chukwu for Enugu East senatorial zone’. I exclaimed, “My fears have been confirmed!” So, I broke down because what I saw was that they (gunmen) used AK-47s and they were in three keke (tricycles), the first tyre had climbed the bump. They (gunmen) probably came out and opened fire on him.
They pumped a lot of bullets into his body and it was clear that he was already dead. His personal assistant opened the door and tried to run away, but they shot him in the leg and demobilised him, so he couldn’t run again. They dragged him inside the Toyota Sienna vehicle, fired a shot at the fuel tank and burnt them.
Did you see your late brother’s corpse?
With my phone torch, I saw the corpses of my late brother and his PA. I stood there and the (Enugu) State Commissioner of Police joined me, and the Deputy Commissioner of Police, Operations, joined us. So, we were able to get a tow truck. The vehicle was removed from the gutter and was taken to Awkunanaw Police Station after we removed the corpses and took them to the mortuary.
What do you think was the reason behind your elder brother’s murder?
They killed my elder brother three days before the senatorial election because they knew he would have won convincingly; he had always said that he would not only be a senator but would also be a distinguished senator. What he meant by that statement was that he was going to attract as many as possible in terms of job opportunities, helping women with soft loans and others. I jotted down whatever he said during the campaign.
Was there any previous attempt on his life because he was contesting the senatorial election?
Yes! Before then, there was an attempt to kill him at Akwuke. That very day, he went on a campaign with the governorship candidate of the party, Chijioke Edeoga, the deputy governorship candidate, and some other people. The governorship candidate and his running mate came with their security aides. The people who came thought the security aides were stationed in one place. They didn’t know they positioned themselves in different places. So, they (gunmen) used a tricycle. Fortunately, one of the policemen spotted one with an AK-47 and caught him. The other gunman got out and was running, but he (the policeman) shot him in the leg and arrested him. The one driving the tricycle was able to escape with the tricycle. My elder brother was addressing the people with a microphone when the incident happened. They (gunmen) had aimed for his head but the governorship candidate immediately alerted him and directed that they should all leave the place. Unknown to my brother, he was the target and was being trailed for assassination.
Before these incidents, did he inform you that someone had threatened him or told him to drop his senatorial ambition?
Yes, a top politician in the state called somebody and told him to talk to my elder brother, but my elder brother told the person that he (the top politician) was studying Medicine when he (Oyibo) was in his fourth year in the university reading Law. My elder brother (Oyibo) had asked, “Between you and I, who will step down for the other?” He (Oyibo) said that for eight years, he (the top politician) was there (at the National Assembly); he didn’t attract anything except for the tricycles he brought back and shared among his workers. My brother told him that he believed that he would do better than him. But the man kept saying that the only threat he had was Oyibo Chukwu.
What about the whereabouts of the people that were arrested at the campaign rally with weapons?
Well, I don’t want to pre-empt the investigation that is ongoing for obvious reasons. I will allow the security agencies to conclude their investigation. It will be made public.
But the police came out immediately after the incident and accused the Indigenous People of Biafra and Eastern Security Network of being behind the murder of your brother. Do you agree with the police?
I really don’t. The police should not jeopardise this ongoing investigation. Unknown gunmen did not kill my brother. You know how unknown gunmen operate; they don’t operate at night. On the day of sit-at-home, between 6:30am and noon, if you want to take the risk, you may run into them, but as soon as it gets to 4pm or 5pm, you see activities going on. Even my elder brother had sympathy for IPOB because he was their lawyer in Enugu State when some of them were detained. So, that theory is off the track. We know who killed our brother.
The Enugu State Government, elders of Enugu, especially the elders of Nkanu land haven’t condemned the brutal killing of your brother. Are you worried?
I said it the day Peter Obi came to my country home on a condolence visit that one would have expected Chief Jim Nwobodo to issue a statement condemning what happened, the same as Chief Ken Nnamani, as a former President of the Senate; and lastly, the governor who is the chief security officer of the state, but they have not issued a statement condemning the brutal killing of my brother. What we discovered was that Jim Nwobodo was calling tricycle operators for a meeting in his house on how the PDP would win the senatorial election, the governorship (election) and so on. I had expected that as a leader, someone who governed this state and was over 80 years old, he should know what to do and he didn’t do that. So, who are we? My elder brother will not die in vain. What those who murdered him did was to kill the body, but his spirit will smile if the Labour Party wins Saturday’s (today’s) election. He has sacrificed his life for the Labour Party. I told Peter Obi that our mother is from Anambra State.
How are your family members coping with the situation?
It is a very big tragedy. We have yet to come out from the shock. In fact, the (Oyibo’s) wife had a seizure, she was jerking and the daughter called us. We rushed and took her to a hospital. She was discharged recently. My mother is not aware of her son’s death. Each time she calls, she asks about him. What I told my mother was that he was shot in the leg and I took him to hospital and that the same people came there to attack him but they did not succeed. I told my mother that I had moved him to another place and that I was the only person allowed to see him. She always asks me how he eats and takes his bath, but I always tell her that the nurses are taking care of that.
Did you foresee this incident when your brother declared his interest to contest the senatorial seat?
Yes, I foresaw it and told him, but he said, “Lucky, I don’t need these people.” You know he was somebody that took life very easy; he was not the loud type. He enjoyed driving himself but I forced him to accept security aides, and he said, “Lucky, police work is two ways – for and against.” He said he didn’t need that kind of trouble. I told him to allow me to organise some boys (as security aides) for him, but he said I should not worry myself, and that the election would soon be over. I knew he was being targeted. I equally knew that they (assailants) were making serious plans – the incident in Akwuke was bungled. So, this time round, the person (perpetrator) now said, “Make sure he is dead.” That explains why after killing him with an AK-47, they set the vehicle ablaze.
You are aware that after the killing of your brother, two other attacks happened in the same location. One, the driver of Ofor Chukwuegbo, was killed and burnt and the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Uche Nnaji, was equally attacked. Now, the report was that your brother was attacked, the PDP candidate’s driver was attacked a few meters apart, and the APC candidate was equally attacked in Agbani. Do you think those incidents are connected?
It is diversionary. All these things are geared towards giving the impression that there were a lot of incidents on that day. What IPOB or unknown gunmen do is when they kill, they go away; they don’t set the person’s corpse ablaze. This time round, because of the one that failed at Akwuke, they were instructed to not only shoot him but also make sure that people only found his bones. In Nkanu land, we have two families, and one family has been in power for over 17 years. The Odenigbo (family) has never been in power. The Odenigbo (family) said what their great, great grandfather gave to them, people were trying to take it. You know we Odenigbo own the land. Go into the archives; the Nnaji families are from Arochukwu. What they did was they recruited Ohafia and Abiriba warlords and invaded our land, killing a lot of people; some were fortunate to run away and escape.
Do you believe the police will ensure that justice prevails in this matter?
Let’s give them the chance. The question is coming too early; let’s give them a chance. In the police, we still have men of conscience – we have those that are good. It is just like in politics; there are good politicians and there are bad ones. So, you see it in every organisation. We will give the police the benefit of the doubt that they will investigate and conclude.