By Linda Osigwe
A tragedy last week struck the people of Okoro-Okpara Umuorika Village in Ugbelle Autonomous Community in Ideato South Local Government Area of Imo State which incident has till now kept the community in total pain and confusion.
It was gathered that no arrest has been made and the alleged arsonists/assasins are said to be at large.
According to our reporter who visited the scene of the incident,on February 17,2020 Mr. Patrick Njemanze Okpara,a retired soldier and former Confidential Secretary (G.C) Etutu Division Enugu, was burnt to death in his own house at Okoro-Okpara Umuorika village in Ugbelle Autonomous Community.
It was said that in attempt to cover their tracks,the deceased three (3) rooms apartment was set ablaze after his assailants had allegedly killed him and cut off his private parts and other part of his body.As also gathered,some building materials which include hundred bags of cement were among items that got burnt.
Briefing Watchdog Newspaper on the incident, his nephew, Mr. Okpara Anayo stated thus, “I got a phone call from my mother, Mrs. Appolonia Okpara around 6:39 am on Saturday but couldn’t pick up the call as a result of which she sent one master Kosisochukwu about a 13 year old boy living with us to come to Ogboko where I base and inform me of the recent tragedy at our home. Kosisochukwu came and told me that my uncle and his house had been burnt in a mysterious fire outbreak. That made me to rush down to the house and did the necessary things I needed to do as other family members were away and not available at that moment”.
According to Mr. Okpara Anayo, his late uncle, Patrick Njemanze Okpara had returned home from Enugu last week where he was based with his wife to start up a building project in his village, as he already bought one hundred bags of cement to commence the building but unfortunately, tragedy befell him on Saturday night 16th February, 2020 when the deceased went to bed.
The deceased wife, Mrs. Pricilia Okpara had also narrated how she got the ugly news of her husband’s demise thus, “I called my late husband on Saturday evening, 16th February, 2020 and he told me he had bought sand and water with which to commence the building project. I got a call early on Sunday morning while observing my morning prayers from Mrs. Nkiru Ekweogu and she asked me if my husband had returned to Enugu where we live, I was surprised as I told her my late husband was still in the village. Mr. Dike Ekweogu, Mrs. Nkiru’s husband called me later and told me to come back home immediately. That frightened me the more. Meanwhile my late husband’s body had not been found at the scene of the incident at that time. Mrs. Pricilia Okpara said that they usually don’t go to bed with candle light rather they use torch-light.
During the findings, Mr. Okpara Anayo stated that the deceased never went to bed with candle light instead with torch-light and his radio and there was no electricity in the apartment neither did the deceased put on his generator and as such the fire outbreak must have been in a bid to cover their tracks and creat impression that he was killed by fire out break.
However, the burnt remains of late Mr. Patrick Njemanze Okpara was later found by Mr. Okpara Anayo during a search on Sunday morning. Information was given that some parts of the deceased body could not be found as his two legs were off from his knees; his private part was found missing and his left arm as well.
Mr. Bethran Uchenna Okpara in his own narrative had said that the deceased was his uncle who stood as a father to them and saw to the affairs of the family and took responsibilities in all ramifications. Also, the tragedy reached the Area Commander in Ogboko as they were re-directed to Dikenafai police Division for further investigation over the fire outbreak that led to the tragedic death of late Mr. Patrick Njemanze Okpara.
HRH Eze R.O Okoro (Ezeakijiofor III) of Ugbelle Autonomous Community in an interview with Community Watchdog Newspaper expressed his dissatisfaction, pain and concern over the incident. “I wonder how a man would return to his home town and this kind of tragedy befalls him”, the Eze had said. HRH Eze R.O Okoro then beckoned on government to intervene in this matter with a view towards resolving it. He described the tragedy as a bad omen in the community.
The deceased is survived by his wife, Mrs. Pricilia Okpara, four children; Mrs. Chinyere Onyema, Mrs. Ngozi Umeh, Mr. Ebubechukwu Collins Okpara, Mrs Juliet Ugochi and thirteen grand children.
When contacted,the Imo State police public relation officer(PPRO),Mr Olando Ikeokwu said he was yet to be communicated of the development.He assured that he would confirm from the DPO at Ideato south and get back to our reporter which never happened uptil the time of going to press.