A 28-year-old man, who claimed to be a naval rating, Mr. Ikechi Okoro, is now on the run after allegedly killing Chidera Timothy with a bottle over an N800 debt his brother owes the girl’s mother. Twelve-year-old Chidera was a primary five pupil of the Holy Trinity Anglican Primary School in Calabar, Cross River State.
Ikechi’s younger brother, Friday Okoro, has been arrested by policemen from Atakpa Police Station in Calabar where the matter was reported.
Following the arrest, the members of the Okoro family residing at 34, Wilkie Street, have taken to their heels. Narrating the incident to PUNCH Metro on Saturday, the girl’s father, Timothy, said Ikechi’s brother, Mr. Orieke Okoro, who repairs tricycle, had refused to pay his wife, Mercy, the sum of N800 that he owed her for several months. Timothy said Orieke was a regular customer at his wife’s restaurant and beverage shop and at times bought things on credit.
After Orieke’s debt rose to N800, it was learnt that he stopped patronising the restauranteur. Timothy said, “The debt rose to N800 and has remained so for two months. Whenever my wife asks him about the debt, he would claim he does not have money. When my wife discovered that he no longer patronised her but rather bought things from a nearby shop and still paid cash, she threatened to seize his tools.
“On Monday, December 17, 2012, my wife went to him to collect her money but the boy said he did not have money, my wife then picked his tools and the boy did not react.” Trouble, however, started, when Ikechi took over the matter when his brother’s customer, who brought his tricycle for repairs, claimed that one of his spare parts was missing. Timothy explained further, “Ikechi came with the customer to my wife’s shop to look for the spare part in the toolbox, but because my wife didn’t know them, she refused to release the box. She insisted that they ought to have come with Orieke and her N800 before she would release the toolbox.
“Then the fake naval man started insulting my wife and threatened to beat her up if she did not release the toolbox. He said the worst that could happen was for the police to arrest him. As he struggled to enter the shop to collect the toolbox, my wife blocked him and in the process, he slapped her and she held his shirt.
“As the trouble was going on, my son, Chukwuemeka, who had returned from where he went to fetch water tried to ask why the man slapped his mother then Ikechi allegedly ran to their house and collected a machete and returned with his younger brother and the elder sister.
“Three of them beat up my son and my wife. Friday used the machete on my son and gave him a cut on the left hand while the sister hit my wife with a wood she was holding.” He said that as the trouble was going on, Chidera rushed to call him (Timothy) from where he was working close by. He added that when he got to his wife’s shop, he saw Ikechi with an empty bottle threatening to kill someone with it.
Timothy said, “As I was trying to find out what happened and to calm him down, he struggled and freed himself from the people holding him and said that he was going to kill somebody. He said as a naval man he could do whatever he wished. “He threw the bottle at my son but he dodged it. However, the bottle hit my daughter on the head. She fainted immediately. I rushed her to Mambo Clinic which was the nearest clinic for treatment. She was there till December 23 when she died.”
He said although he reported the matter at the police station, no arrest was made until he went back to the police station after his daughter had died. Friday, who allegedly injured Chukwuemeka with a machete, according to him, was arrested. Chidera’s corpse, he said, was deposited at a mortuary on Edgerley Street in Calabar South.
When contacted, the state police Public Relations Officer, Mr. John Umoh, confirmed the incident, saying the matter would be properly investigated by the Criminal Investigation Department. Also, the Information Officer of the Eastern Naval Command, Lt.Commodore Williams Olabisi, said the alleged assailant who claimed to be a naval man might have been an imposter. “If any of our officials commit offence of that magnitude, there is no way I will not be aware of it,” Olabisi added.